I first discovered Moliets last summer when I arrived as a surf camp guest of Star Surf Camps. What was intended to be a two week holiday ended up turning into an epic three months.. .and this year I’m back for more!
There are many, many reasons to come and visit this tiny beachside town hidden in the forest, and in this guide I’ll be sharing my top tips, restaurants to visit and places to see in Moliets. As nowhere is perfect, I’ll also share some of the drawbacks and things to be aware of when planning your trip to this little surfers paradise.
I first arrived in Moliets after a brutal six month lockdown in my native Ireland. Having made the fateful decision to give up my apartment in Dublin and spend the next year travelling the world as a digital nomad, I soon found myself with COVID cancelled flights and a country experiencing the strictest lockdown in Europe.
After six months of slowly losing my mind in my parents’ countryside home (picture a secluded cottage surrounded by vast acres of farmland and sheep), I finally found an outbound flight and fled to France.
Upon arriving in Moliets, I was shocked by the amount of young surfers, campers, skaters and holiday makers that were populating it’s two big campsites. As there are lots of different surf camps and schools within walking distance of each other, Moliets is a melting pot that attracts thousands of young adventurers from all over Europe each year to surf, party and soak up the atmosphere…and boy does it have atmosphere!
Imagine thousands of surfers and free spirits all crammed into a small seaside town and you can imagine why my first impression of Moliets was that it was the closest thing to a surfers paradise that I’d ever seen.
That being said, there is also a strong local presence in Moliets, with many French surfers and locals also sharing the waves, bars and restaurants. This maintains the authentic French feeling of the town, as many restaurant and bar menus will be in French, with staff often speaking little or broken English.
Moliets is a double edged sword. It’s located in a secluded and beautiful pine forest between the cities of Bordeaux and Biarritz, with a large protected beach that runs unimpeded for miles. While this makes Moliets a nature lover’s paradise, it also means it’s difficult to get to without a car.
If you have a rental car or a van – congratulations! – you will have a LOT more freedom than anyone relying on public transport. If driving isn’t an option, there is a train service that runs from Bordeaux and Biarritz to Dax train station, which is less than an hour’s drive away. From Dax, West Coast Transfers run a great service which will take you directly to Moliets.
If you’ll be staying with a surf camp, they will often help with arranging your transport from Dax – or pick you up directly from Biarritz or Bordeaux airport. If you don’t have a car and like to be mobile, I’d strongly recommend renting a bike during your stay in Moliets. There’s great cycle lanes and the biggest (and most reasonably priced) supermarket is an hour’s walk away.
The first thing to understand about Moliets is that it’s small…and a little secluded. While there aren’t the plethora of activities that can be found in large cities, Moliets absolutely excels at three things – surfing, nature and nightlife. Public transport doesn’t really exist in Moliets – bring the van!
There’s a reason so many people come here to surf. The entire stretch of coastline between Biarritz and Bordeaux offers a huge selection of beaches and breaks for all surfing abilities. Moliets beach itself is huge, and plays host to thousands of surfers each year. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro – there’s usually always a wave to be found.
While it can get a little crowded in July and August, you can often find a quiet break by walking further up the beach and away from the main promenade. This is made considerably easier by renting a bike with beach tyres and whizzing past the crowds to the spots most surfers on foot aren’t willing to walk to.
Despite its size, Moliets has a great selection of surf shops to buy or rent everything you need. I’d particularly recommend checking out Surf School Moliets for a great selection of wetsuits, boards and surf apparel. They also offer great daily or hourly rates for rentals, and have the best selection of longboards and shortboards to choose from. Last year I personally rented a series of boards from them throughout the season.
If you’re not staying at a surf camp and are looking for surf lessons, check out Surfing Courant d’Huchet, one of the best surf schools in Moliets. The head instructor Pierre grew up in Moliets, and has unrivalled local knowledge as well as an incredible passion for teaching. You can book everything from a large group lesson to a 1-1 for some personal coaching. If you’re planning on staying more than a week, you can also pick up big discounts for a package of multiple lessons!
Surrounded by forests and right next to a huge protected sandy beach, Moliets is perfect for nature lovers. While there are an abundance of forest treks, I’d definitely recommend the “Courant d’Huchet” – which is a 5 mile loop trail located near Moliets-et-Maa, Landes, France that features incredible river views and is good for all skill levels. You can find a list of the main walking trails available here.
The long sandy beach of Moliets is itself a great way to connect with nature, as you can usually have stretches of the entire beach to yourself by walking 10-15 mins North, away from the crowds. Another thing to watch out for (especially if you’re camping), is the beautiful starry skies that can usually be seen each night – a definite plus if you come from a cloudy country like Ireland!
So, what do you do after a long day of surfing, exploring nature or just chilling in a hammock? Yep, you party! While Moliets is a small town, the large number of visitors each year ensures it has a large and bustling nightlife scene.
While there are only a handful of bars available, they are often packed with good humoured surfers and holiday makers. My personal favorite is an absolute gem called Beach Break. The staff are super friendly, the drinks are reasonably priced (especially during the daily happy hour) and you can always be guaranteed to find a great vibe here in high season.
In addition to having a selection of cocktails and beers (including Delirium and Guinness), they often run awesome events like skate competitions during the high season. Another popular watering hole is Zoo Bar, which is located just a few meters from Beach Break and serves great tapas and finger food. Given their proximity, there’s usually a solid crowd from both bars mingling outside. Definitely the best area to begin your night out in Moliets!
While there are a variety of great cafes and restaurants in Moliets (as well as some overly priced tourist traps), my absolute favorite place to visit is AmaZone cafe. With a motto of “Peace, Love, Cupcakes & Plants”, there’s so many reasons to love this place. Founded and owned by it’s smiling and welcoming head baker Ama, it’s a place filled with plants, good vibes and tasty homemade delicacies – both salty and sweet!
Every day, they create and prepare fresh, original dishes and pastries, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free options. For all the vegans reading this, the last sentence is super important! As somebody who’s aiming to gradually make the move towards veganism, I can confirm that it’s quite difficult to find many great vegan options in Moliets, and that AmaZone is an absolute godsend if you’re camping and don’t wish to eat hummus, avocados and bread all day.
Among other things, the café offers a working space (the only one in Moliets), picnic baskets, tailor-made cakes and many other things to discover!
If you’re searching for a premium dinner experience, then I’d also recommend Le Grill de l’Océan, which offers a combination of great food and great wine in a slightly more formal setting. There is usually a good vegan option, and has become the “designated and slightly fancy” date night spot of choice for my girlfriend and I. After a week of camping, it feels great to dress up and escape the campsite for a while!
Air B&Bs and hotels don’t really exist in Moliets, with the majority of visitors each year staying at either of it’s big campsites – Camping Landes Cigales and Camping le Saint Martin, which also house most of the international surf camps. Both of these campsites offer a variety of pitches for tents or campers, and will even offer rentals on mobile homes for families or groups.
If you’re searching for a ready-made atmosphere or to join surf lessons, the surf camps will be your best option here, as they will provide the instructors, equipment and fellow surfers to befriend. At Star Surf, we offer multiple surf packages that cater to all levels.
For any Yogi’s out there, some surf camps will also offer lessons and equipment. At Star Surf, our Deluxe surf camp has a dedicated yoga deck and offers daily restorative yoga classes with our veteran instructors. If you’re not planning on staying with a surf camp, I’d recommend taking that yoga mat over to the beach for some sunrise or sunset solo sessions (sunsets are usually the most beautiful as the sun sets over the ocean).
While Moliets is a tiny seaside town, it has an incredible atmosphere and is truly the closest thing I’ve ever found to a surfers paradise. Be prepared to pay a little extra for things in the local shops, don’t expect to find a great wifi signal anywhere and arrive with a car if at all possible. Other than that, Moliets is the perfect place for a 1-2 week holiday full of surfing, yoga, chilling and socialising. After spending so much time locked in our houses over the past year, I can’t think of a better place to escape the doom and gloom and enjoy the simple pleasures of life!