Escaping the grips of winter in northern Europe is often an essential element in staying sane amidst the numb extremities and SAD that British surfers suffer from at this time of year. The Canary Islands provide a perfect getaway from the above and at less than a 4 hour flight away its a cheap, wave rich option for those craving some thinner neoprene against their skin.
We assembled a motley crew of south coast surfers and sailors and made a bee line for Oasis Surf House in the north western corner of Lanzarote. Having religiously checked the forecast in the week leading up to our departure we knew that whilst we would be warm we wouldn't escape the howling onshore winds which also frequently blight our south coast back on the UK. To add insult to injury we had narrowly missed a week of light offshore winds and a fresh groundswell looked to set grace the Witterings as we touched down in Arecife. No matter, 25°C , cold beers and some decent days of swell is nothing to sniff at and if there is one benefit to having very average waves at your home break it's that any surf trip is normally a vast improvement.
The first day on the island we rose for a dawnie and after a quick scout for some shelter settled for a shifty little beach break tucked under the immense cliffs beyond Famara. All time it was not but it satisfied our initial itch to get wet. The afternoon saw much better conditions with the winds easing and the fuller tides being more favourable. We paddled out from the harbour wall at Famara onto a classy left hand reef break. After doing our best to ignore the angry yells from the animated locals (specifically referencing our mothers!) we decided to give the peak and the grouchy locals a wide birth and take the scraps on the inside. Not exactly a hardship with some lovely waves reeling mechanically down the reef.
Alas, the first day turned out to be the pick of the bunch during our time there. The following days providing ever increasing winds and ever decreasing swell. As seasoned Wittering surfers we took this in our stride though and relished the challenge of snagging the odd gem that resisted its natural urge to close out.
It also turns out that you can indulge in non-surf orientated activities too and a load of the team decided to hike to the top of Caldera Blanca, one of many extinct volcanoes on the island. And in all honesty the views from the summit far outweighed the gutless surf that I opted for in Famara.
All in all, the first trip to the Canaries was a cracking one. The waves may not have been all time but with cheap and easy flights, good company and great hosts at the Oasis Surf House, our escape from the snow back in the UK was an excellent one and it is a trip that we will be certainly considering again in the winters to come.