Lanzarote is a surfing island, often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe – a surfers paradise that includes El Quemao. When the planets align, simply put, El Quemao is up there with the worlds greatest waves, certainly not for the fainthearted, El Quemao can produce huge barrels – the best pipeline in Europe – also huge wipeouts, a wave of maximum power that drops on to a shallow volcanic reef. El Quemao is strictly for the most experienced surfers. However this doesn’t mean Lanzarote is just for the worlds elite surfers who come, the island is a surfing paradise for all levels of skill. Here at Lanzarote Retreats we welcome surfers of all ages and abilities and we will look after you all!

Experienced surfers head to La Santa, not only for El Quemao but also for ‘La Santa Left’ (The Slab). Beginners and less experienced surfers can head to numerous beach breaks. Most famous of these is Famara Beach, this is one of Lanzarote’s slightly more remote beaches, with the added benefit of being one of the most stunning beach locations in Europe. Approximately 3km in length its arc shape joins Caleta de Famara on one side with the Risco mountain on the other. This is a stunning landscape that has to be seen to be believed. Aside from being a vast sandy expanse at low tides w that means, even when busy, there is ample space for all, it also provides amazing opportunities for surfers, bodyboarders and kite surfers.

Famara Beach

There are very few who know Lanzarote’s surf spots as well as Lanzarote Retreats General Manager, Josh Braddock. Josh is the son of Lanzarote Retreats founders, Tila & Michelle Braddock. Josh has surfed this island most of his life. Here he talks about surfing in Lanzarote and El Quemao Class, the annual invitation-only surf event that takes place on 2 days between October – March every year. Come to Lanzarote Retreats and you will meet Josh, he will guide you through the waves!!!

Josh Braddock

Tell us about your relationship with surfing?

I grew up in Lanzarote and started surfing and bodyboarding when I was 6 years old, down on Arrieta beach. My first surf contest was at Famara beach when I was about 8 years old and by the age of 11 I was fully committed to the sport. I’ve competed on the UK Pro Surf Tour, Canary island tour and the WSL European qualifying series.

Can you explain what is so special about El Quemao?

The Quemao wave itself is Incredible, it holds a lot of swell and provides some amazing barrel rides. It breaks on real shallow lava reef, which is what makes it so serious. Having being able to travel around the world, I can say that it’s one of the most challenging and rewarding waves I’ve surfed. 

How does Quemao Class rate as an event in the surf calendar?

We have a world class event right on our door step with Quemao Class. The Quemao class event itself is an invite only contest, and over the last few years we’ve had some of the best barrel riders in the world come and compete. It’s one of those events that if you get picked to come, you don’t turn it down! The contest has such a big waiting period (October – March) to allow us surfers to get the perfect conditions, this can mean that a lot of the original invitees can’t make it, that’s why they also have a reserve list to fill the spots.

What is it you love about the event?

It’s great to see so many people down at the contest sight supporting the surfers, the atmosphere is incredible. It’s also amazing to surf the wave with only 3 other people in the line up.

How many years have you participated in Quemao Class?

The last 4 years, but with limited spaces we try to mix up the local invitees, so the last 2 years I’ve been in the reserve list but have still managed to get into the event both times.

What were you 2020 highlights and how would you rate your performance this year?

I had a tough event this year, we were the first heat in the water, and had some tricky conditions with the low tide. So I was disappointed to not get through that heat. But was still a great experience, and I got to support the rest of the competitors for the remainder of the event.

Josh Braddock (right) & Gearoid Mcdaid (left). We were delighted to host Gearoid at Lanzarote Retreats and watch him take 2nd place the 2020 Quemao Class event that took place earlier this month.

Now you have to balance surfing with the responsibilities of being General Manager of Lanzarote Retreats, has it changed your approach to surfing?

It’s a little harder haha, but I still manage to get in a few times a week, also when I have guests that come and stay that surf I have a brilliant excuse to take them surfing with me during my work hours.

You have hosted a lot of pro surfers over the years but what about non-experts – regularly families – what does the island offer first time/beginner surfers?

Lanzarote has such a big variety of waves for all levels, from the beginner waves of Famara to the experienced waves of Quemao. It really is the best place to either come and learn to surf or to come on a surf trip with family or friends. Finca de Arrieta and our other properties are ideally situated to explore all the islands surf spots. We are very welcoming and me and my team here will look after you. If anyone needs any recommendations I’m always here to advise and if I cannot surf with you when you get here (I have to work sometimes ?) then I will still make sure one of the best local guides takes great care of you. Book your holiday and come and join us!!!

Josh Braddock (centre) on Famara Beach giving a lesson to Normand Laprise (far right) and his family. Normand is a renowned Quebecer chef and author. Normand and his lovely wonderful family stayed with us at Finca de Arrieta whilst filming a special one hour TV production for French TV. More info on that very soon! ?

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