10 Cold Water Surfing Paradises
Surfing isn't all about basking in the sun - you can do it wherever there's swell, so long as you have a good wetsuit
What's more, cold water surfers and communities of surfers are springing up all over the globe, from Iceland to Norway, Nova Scotia to Russia there are hardy souls out there prepared to plunge themselves into freezing cold water to get that next perfect swell.
These are not madmen though, these are dedicated individuals, some have to surf in the cold out of necessity, some choose to do it to get away from increasing crowds and find some solitude, but all are driven by the next wave.
So here are 10 cold water surf paradises, that you may or may not know existed. [part title="Reykjavik, Iceland "]
That is if you don't mind temperatures cold enough to freeze the sea on the north coast, and the odd iceberg in the lineup on the south. But with modern wetsuit technology, and the awesome natural hot springs to warm up in post surf, things become a little bit easier. The surf conditions may not be perfect that often, but Iceland is an experience you'll never forget.
Reykjavik Surfing Video:
The Lofoten Islands, in the far north have become the place to go to but it's best in the Winter, when days are short and cold, so you've got to be ready to jump in and make the most of what surf there is at the drop of a hat.
Even though it is incredibly cold up there the locals are well organised, hot tubs are fired up before any winter surf, which means even in a heavy snow storm you can run out of the surf and jump into the steaming water in your wetsuit and get warm quickly. With roasting hot cabins on site as well, it isn't quite as bad as you think.
Lofoten Islands Surfing Video:
[part title="Thurso, Scotland"]
Scotland isn't exactly synonymous with perfect surf, but the waves around the little town of Thurso, on the north coast, are good enough to have held a world tour event. The O'Neill Cold Water Classic ran for three years and scored good waves every time, despite heats having to be surfed through blizzards.
There are a hardy crew of local guys up there though who have known how good it is long before the pro tour came to town. They surf come rain, hail, snow or shine, which generally all happens in one day. Once out of the surf you can warm up with a nice single malt and a deep fried Mars bar.
Thurso Surfing Video:
Although it hasn't won one yet, it's only a matter of time until some rubber clad charger from the Emerald Isle takes home the big prize. If charging mountains of water isn't your thing though, Ireland has every other wave you could want to surf, just pack a good wetsuit.
Bundoran Surfing Video:
New York and the North East of the USA may be warm in the Summer, but in the Winter, when the surf is best, temperatures plummet to nut chilling levels. But as snow and ice storms spin off the continent heading for Europe, they send a present back to the east coast in the form of swell. So all winter long the coastline gets pounded by surf, not always that big, but it makes up for it with quality.
New York is a great place to base yourself, it's central to a lot of surf, and when it goes flat, which it will the city becomes a playground for après surf activity. Once out of the city though it gets pretty hardcore quickly and you need an insanely good wetsuit, a shovel and a good 4x4 to get yourself through the snow to the beach.
New York Surfing Video:
Beyond the easily accessible waves on the local beaches there are loads of waves, but you need a boat, some local knowledge and a big sense of adventure. It's not for everyone but the beauty of the area is worth a visit on its own.
Tofino Surfing Video:
You'll need deep pockets as well, there are hardly any roads, so a good 4x4 or better still a helicopter is advised. But it's this inaccessibility that adds to the adventure and makes it a paradise with so much potential.
Surfing in Russia Video:
The focus of this surf is around the small town of Pichilemu which has become something of a cold water surfing Mecca with its incredible long lefthanders at Punta Lobos. These break from a couple of feet up to monstrous sizes. It's here that a stop of the big wave world tour takes place, and combined with a tricky paddle out off the rocks and a big shifting line up it is one of the most challenging big wave spots in the world.
Pichilemu Surfing Video:
[part title="Yakutat Peninsula, Alaska"]
The Yakutat Peninsula in Alaska is a seemingly unlikely place to find epic waves, but this isolated outpost is the most consistent place to surf in the USA's most Northern State. Alaska, like the other cold water paradises has no shortage of swell, but the weather is often so bad you can't actually go in the water. This is where Yakutat has a big advantage with a perfect left-hander tucked in the shelter of the bay behind the peninsula.
With a spectacular backdrop across the bay backed by huge peaks, Grizzly bears on the beach and the only reliable way in to the area by plane, it's a full wilderness experience. As consistent cold water surf spots go it's the place to go for that ultimate backwoods adventure.
Alaska Surfing Video:
That hasn't stopped people from trying though, Red Bull launched an expedition there last year to look at the potential and whilst it probably isn't quite a cold water paradise yet, in a couple of hundred years of global warming it probably will be.