Spot Check: Mundaka

Say, bearded guy, is that a freight train coming around the point?
Mundaka, Firing © Surline/Oscar Martinez
By Derek Rielly

It ain't a secret but it might as well be. Up there on the northern Spanish coast, a million miles, culturally and climatically, from Madrid and Barcelona and Ibiza and all the flashiness of Spain, is the port town of Mundaka.

It's cold. It's wet. It's Basque.

And, here, is the famous rivermouth sand-bottom left-hander Mundaka. It's often called Kirra in reverse. Which is true enough if Kirra ever got 10 foot and terrifyingly perfect. Which it never did.

But it's sand. And it is hollow. By God is it hollow.

If you're ever in Europe early Autumn or winter, you'll keep an eye on the swell hitting south-west France. Once it gets over 12 feet you're coming into Mundaka country.

What can you expect from your Mundaka experience? Imagine a real easy entry. Just climb down the steps of the port, jump into the little tucked-away marina behind the headland, take a few strokes and you're out.

It's crowded. Fifty, sixty, whatever guys. All with beards. All of 'em hungry for a piece of a wave that only breaks half-a-dozen times a year, properly at least. You'll get scraps. But a scrap of Mundaka is better than most.

Take it high, take it fast, forget that cutback jam you've got, and hold on as it comes whistling over that waist-high sand bank. You'll want to jump. You'll want to preserve what chance of survival you've got. This wave is all over you now, the bottom is… there… what else you gonna do?

Calm the heart, look around. You might get dropped in on, like most places, but that view ain't gonna change.

Soon, you're way down the bank. You might paddle back or you might take it across the river, climb up the rocks, down the stairs, and start again.

No European adventure, vacation, honeymoon is complete without a Mundaka thrill ride. Chase it.

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