Surfing is important in the Basque Country, which has produced some internationally recognised surfers and hosts world-renowned championships. The waves that reach our coasts have made us a magnet for surfing fans worldwide.
To draw attention to its story, Itsasmuseum Bilbao has allocated space to the history of surfing and its evolution in the Basque Country. The exhibition has been designed with expert help and is an up-close look at the pioneers of this sport and its local industry.
There are four information panels and items to illustrate the story: among others, three surfboards symbolising three key milestones for the sport in Euskadi, an O’Neill suit and a jacket, and a copy of The Surf Riders of Hawaii, Ignacio Arana’s first-ever surf book which, passionate about surfing and a consul in Hawaii between 1911 and 1914, he brought with him to the Basque Country.
Surfing sweeps Europe. In 1956, a Californian screenwriter travelled to Biarritz with his surfboard for the shooting of Fiesta. Officially, surfing started in Europe in 1957, and a few years later, it reached the Basque Country. Life magazine inspired the donostiarra Inaki Arteche to build his first board and surf at La Concha with his brother in 1964. They were the first, followed in Getxo by pioneers José Luis Elejoste and Carlos Pradera, and afterwards surfing spread to other Basque beaches.
Surfing started on the Mundaka Bar between 1967 and 1968 and put Euskadi on the world surf map.
Although they were already surfing in the seventies, women’s surfing did not really take off until the next decade, when growth, both in terms of the number of women surfers and at a competitive level, has been exponential.