Somo is a small coastal town located on the northern coast of Spain.
Locally known as a summer holiday destination for foreign tourists and Spaniards from all around the country. The main attractions in Somo are the picturesque 5km (3mi) stretch of sandy beach, and also the numerous cafes, restaurants and surf shops. It is also a 30-minute scenic ferry ride from the closest city of Santander with a population of 150k.
I decided to spend half a winter there from September to January, and here are my conclusions.
- Population – 1,700 (Up to 5,000 during the summer months – May to August)
- Closest city – Santander, 30min by ferry
- No. of food stores – 3
- No. of petrol stations – 0
- No. of skateparks in the area – 2 (Somo & Loredo)
- No. of cafes/restaurants – About 30
- Beach & sand quality – Very good
- No. of surf schools with accommodations – Around 10?
- Wave quality – Consistent all-year round. Peak season from September-March
What are the locals like?
The overall vibe here is 5/5 as the locals and visitors are all quite laid back. In the summer, this place gets packed with tourists from all around Spain and Europe. I didn’t encounter any localism when surfing good-quality peaks.
What is the beach like?
The air, sand and water quality in Somo are very good. Popular among beachgoers from May to August, then this place gets PACKED. As there are countless number of surf schools in the area – you’ll often have to share the waves with others.
Another great thing about the beach is that you will find multiple showers in Somo & Loredo to rinse off your surfboard and wetsuit after surfing.
Hazards & downsides
- The western part of the beach it is connected to the river running to & from Santander and nearby harbors. It might relate to slight hazard after a heavy rainfall when the water quality can decrease. On a good note – it clears out rather quickly.
- Another downside is that there are many pastures around the area which means you can smell (and often taste) a slight smell of cow dung in the water. Weird, I know, but that’s what you get when living by the countryside.
- There’s also a shipwreck, exposed during the low tide, slightly left (west) from Playa de Somo, around 300meters (1,000ft) from the main entrance.
There are a ton of surf schools & surf stays in the area plus the majority of flats in the city are rented out during the summer months. Ask around from surf schools since they might have some sweet deals on overnight stays.
I found an apartment for 4 months from the ‘Santander Expats‘ Facebook group and paid 550€ ($620) p/month for the whole flat, all bills included.
Culinary & shopping
The restaurants in Somo offer local cuisine, mainly seafood. There are about three surf stores that sell boards, wetsuits and everything surf-related in close proximity. A short 5-minute drive from Somo is another small town called Loredo that boasts another set of surf stores, restaurants, and cafes.
- 3 grocery stores in Somo (Lupa & DIA).
- Tons of cafes & restaurants.
- Three surf stores & rentals.
Surf shops in town
The biggest surf shop & rental in Some is located right between two large car parks on the closest street to the beach. You can’t miss it. There are a few local surfboard brands available in-store along with other popular brands. Locally shaped/manufactured boards are best suited for the nearby breaks in Spain, Portugal and France.
- Board rental & surf schools
- Surf school first-timers.
Surf Spots in Somo
Playa de Somo – The main beach. Often crowded with surf schools, locals and tourists.
The best place to surf a sandbank in Somo is between Playa de Somo & Loredo. The waves in this spot were quite consistent throughout various weather conditions, and won’t get as crowded.
Loredo – Beginner-friendly peaks, surf schools often go there. Can get really crowded when the surf is up.
Santa Marina island – The only point break in the area, best suited for advanced surfers. There’s a 5- minute paddle to the spot, but its well worth the effort as it is protected from the winds and messy conditions most of the time.
A 7-minute drive east of Somo is another nice place called Langre (3 minutes from Loredo). Although the wave quality is not as consistent and good as found in Playa de Somo, you can occasionally find some good swells and sandbanks in this nice-looking spot.
Surf conditions in Somo
Although the best surfing season is considered from September to December, you can actually surf all year round. The waves are consistent and there are plenty of peaks to choose from. Nice and glassy waves seen quite often.
Best tide for surfing
All tides are suitable for surfing, although high & mid-tide held up better waves.
- Low tide = Closeouts, small, turns flat.
- Mid tide = Great.
- High tide = Fat & mellow waves, great when there’s at least a 4-6ft swell, can hold up to 8ft.
- Incoming tide = Average to good quality waves.
- Outgoing tide = Average/ok.
Which board to use?
You’ll see shortboards, fish, hybrids and longboards most of the time.
Since I had a good two year pause of surfing I ended up getting a 7’1″ mid-length which worked well every single occasion.
Which wetsuit to use?
The water temperature in Somo drops down to 12’C from December to March, and peaks at over 20’C in July and August. That means you’ll be needing a pair of boots and a hood with a 5mm steamer in the winter, and a shorty/springsuit during the summer months.
- There’s a sunken shipwreck slightly west from the main beach in Playa de Somo.
- Poor water quality after heavy rainfall.
- Strong currents every now and then.
- Gets huge & unsurfable during some seasonal storms.
- You might fall in love with this place and see it in your dreams years later.
What are the downsides to surfing in Somo?
If you are planning to stay here during the peak holiday season, it can definitely be the crowds. You shouldn’t worry too much about it as most surfers here have a smile on their face and they know this place reasonably well. As long as you know your way around the basic surf etiquette, it is still pretty good.
Long term stay in Somo?
Although if you are planning to stay here over the winter, some say that Spain in overall is known to be a never-ending construction site.
What I mean by that its always somebody who is renovating their home, and since the majority of flats and houses are empty during the winter, you might have to put up with some noise disturbance from construction. Yes, its a thing here! Also, the average home here is somewhat poorly insulated, which means when looking for a flat – make sure you’ll get plenty of daily sunlight in the apartment.
Somo is a must-visit surf spot in Cantabria if you are on a surf trip to/from Portugal by a car.
Whether its your first time getting on a surfboard or you simply need another town/surf spot ticked off your list, this place will treat you right. The weather in general is quite good, I’ve seen some 22’C-degree-Sundays in January, and the water temperature stays quite bearable too. Although this place gets super quiet during the winter months – if you need a place to just kick-back, it can be the place for you.
Walk to the beach, go sightseeing, fishing, surf some uncrowded and clean waves during the winter. Its an easy lifestyle here.
Have you visited Somo? Let us know your thoughts abut this awesome place!