You might be familiar with the popular surf website doozy known as the Seasonal Travel Guide.
As. Fucken. If.
Either you’re already going there, know who you’re staying with, what boat you’re using, ordered your pintails etc, etc, or you’re just not.
Literally nobody has ever gone… ‘Hmmm got that week off, I’ll just go online and see where to get a couple waves. Y’know, spots I don’t know enough about surfing to know that they’re in season, but that I’m good enough to surf… I know! Teahupo’o!’
Your pals at WL however, us folk that really get you, do things a little differently.
It’s April. The hedge-your-bets month. The closest month to a taint. As in taint winter, taint summer, taint necessarily that fucken spring-like, depending on the vagaries of the jet stream.
You’re getting nice long evenings now, although that might just mean more daylight hours sitting in your car, suspension rocking in a raging NW gale looking at wind-ravaged slop, checking your overdraft on your bank’s phone app.
“Taint winter, taint summer, taint necessarily that fucken spring-like”
A real conundrum any time of year, made easier by the fact that if you’re UK based, you can wait and see, and go last minute. Sea temps bottom out sometime in April, meaning that the drink is absolutely freezing, so there’s a good chance you’re wearing maximum rubber, in spite of any spring vibes the air might be bringing.
You might get a spot of really nice warm weather. Or, snow. But if it is 1ft and northerly, at least the pubs are good.
“I went to Beach bar to have a pint watching the sunset last night” said WL Editor Luke Gartside yesterday morning, earnestly, giving you either a) a wee insight into a Monday nite kinda vibe of a work/life balance centric Millennial b) a candid glimpse into the bleak horror of his existence.
England’s South Coast
The cruel hand fate has dealt the English Channel surfer is mitigated considerably when Earth’s axial tilt delivers more hours of day than night following the vernal equinox.
In fact, April might even be Peak Channel. It’s still wintry enough to be windy as arseholes, which is basically when it gets waves, but the extra daylight hours mean you’ve sort of got half a chance of actually seeing and maybe even surfing them before it goes flat within 45mins of the gale relenting.
Seriously, a south coast swell can die quicker than an overwatered Lidl orchid in a south facing bay window.
But with the longer days than nights, the after work sesh comes into play, even the before work. For the unemployed, you’ve essentially got a couple of cracks at an ideal tide now there’s more day than night.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m getting psyched for a bit of partly sunny partly cloudy 11 degree grey water windchop.
“In fact, April might even be Peak Channel”
Is spring the new autumn? Probably not. It’s certainly less crowded than autumn, when the entire surfboard owning populations of everywhere on this list swarm here with a wretched 5 board quiver and a very strong sense of entitlement.
But there’s a reason for that: in spring the onshore comes up more eagerly and more often than Bez circa ‘91. Chill sea and warm air makes for howling, and I mean howling onshores. The kind that don’t so much ruin your sesh, as ruin your life.
The kind that’ll also drop the temp from sunbathing nude on the beach at 11am to frostbitten forey by 11.05.
The trouble is that despite knowing all that, the warm early sun, the general springness, the swallows, the dawn chorus, they’ll get you all curious, optimistic… at least in winter you can just sulk and not check it for a month.
In April, it’s the hope that kills.
“The onshore comes up more eagerly and more often than Bez circa ‘91”
Basque Country / N Spain
This coast is marginally less keen to go raging onshie, mainly due to the huge mountain range behind it, meaning the air temp doesn’t warm up as much, and providing a bit of resistance against that wretched seabreeze. Maybe. I’m not even sure.
If there is a flat/real small spell with raging seabreezes through Biscay though, some spots down there even get fun and shreddable on a weird NNE windswell that’s clean in the mornings.
Hey, I’m trying to stay positive here.
Similar to France, in fact Portugal in April does a really good impression of France. You might still get a decent sniff down on the Algarve, you just never know. You might well score honking Ericeira.
Nazaré has been known to go on the XXL pump in April, so it’s hardly as if the Atlantic has packed in for summer.
Thinking about it, Portugal is probably a decent call (assuming you can’t make the Channel).
Seriously, does anyone even go to Scotland to go surfing? I mean, apart from Cornish pros and surfers from the NE? It’s the most pretend possible surf destination ever. The biggest lie the surf media ever told.
Are people who actually read/take travel advice from surf mags/websites really gonna huck themselves over the ledge at Bagpipes, No 10’s or The Dump?
So what then, new members of the Hertfordshire Surf Club gonna blow 500 quid on petty and 12 hours in the car to arm flap an NSP funshape almost into the lineup at a desolate icy beachbreak that looks like a great place to die?