Surfer la vague sur une des nombreuses plages de l'île d'Oléron

Surfing the waves

Waves, wind, long sandy beaches...Oléron is a home-from-home for all kinds of boardsports. Its Atlantic coast boasts plenty of surf spots, as well as opportunities to practise stand-up paddleboarding, bodyboarding and windsurfing. What makes it stand out most is the sheer variety of its waves.

The île d'Oléron - paradise for fans of boardsports

Waves behave in very different ways depending on whether they encounter sandy beaches or rocky coastline. In fact, taking the tides, wind and the swell into account, conditions can change very rapidly, giving everyone the opportunity to really have some fun. When spots get crowded or the wind is fully onshore, it’s good to fall back on alternative, more sheltered spots. All year-round surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers come to indulge their passion on Oléron. Don’t rely on us to tell you the best spots. Like elsewhere, chatting with local enthusiasts is the best approach. If you want to learn from scratch – or improve your technique – there are various schools awaiting. If you’re already a pro, you no longer need to bring all your kit with you. Local surfing schools and shops will be able to cater to all your needs.

An interesting alternative that combines the fun of boardsports and the chance to explore the island is stand-up paddleboarding, which is a sport in its own right. It combines elements of surfing, racing and more gentle journeying on the sea or through the marshes. Once ‘take off’ has been achieved and you’re paddling away, you’ll have another perspective on the island and the chance to undertake an unusual guided tour supervised by qualified professionals that will enable you to discover the local fauna, flora and heritage.

Surf sur l'île d'Oléron

Canoeing and kayaking – a fairly physically-demanding activity out at sea - is a much more restful and pleasant affair when practised in the many marshes and water channels in the Marennes-Oléron area. Trips on the water are one way of seeing the island in a new light.

The long sandy beaches of the south of the island are ideal for land sailing. Their flatness and the semi-constant wind (produced by depressions in the winter and sea breezes during the summer) make them the places to go. Equally, this wind is good for sports involving sailing such as Optimist-class dinghies, catamarans and windsurfing, which are accessible to all. Short courses, rentals and private lessons organized by local schools will really open up the world of sailing in all its guises to you.

There are lots of ways to have fun in the water

Hire a jet ski (a licence is not necessarily required) or set off on a supervised trip to Fort Boyard, the île d’Aix or Fouras. Equally fun is tubing – a great adrenaline rush and laughter galore guaranteed!

Balade en stand-up paddle

You mustn’t miss out on exploring all the treasures of the sea floor when on Oléron. Rocks, drop-offs/walls, arches and caves follow in quick succession in a way that scuba divers will find truly breath-taking. Divers can rub shoulders with local sea-life and explore wrecks dating from the World Wars. Contact local diving schools for advice and help about taking up this past-time or improving your skills.

None of this is possible without knowing how to swim well. That’s why the local swimming schools are here to give you all the advice, hints and tips to help you gain in confidence in the water and eventually learn to swim like a fish! The waters around the island are of excellent quality – the île d’Oléron boasts several Blue Flag beaches and many service providers have joined the Nautisme responsible (responsible watersports) scheme to help raise awareness of biodiversity. This means that you’ll be able to throw yourself headlong into the almost endless delights of board- and water sports of every kind on clean beaches amidst an unspoilt natural setting.

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