The Best Cold Water Surf Destinations

SurfEars was founded in Sweden, where we basically surf cold water waves year round. We are by no means experts in surf guiding and traveling, but we like to think we have some insights when it comes to some of the most epic cold water surf destinations in the world, many of which we have traveled to. Unlike your typical surf trip to world class tropical islands and set-ups, cold water trips not only provide the quest for epic waves, but also a battle against the elements, which adds another beautiful challenge and experience to the trip. On a typical cold water surf trip you are likely to encounter rugged, untouched landscapes, super isolated towns, hardcore locals, small crowds and little tourism. This all adds to the experience, which is why a cold water surf trip is a must for every surfer. Scoring epic waves on a cold water surf trip almost seems to just be the cherry on top of all the other experiences. Below is a short overview of some of the best cold water surf regions and destinations in the world, we hope this sparks the flame to get you motivated for an adventure to one of these epic locations!

Ireland:

No longer is the amazing waves in Ireland a secret. The rugged coastline especially in the north west of the country in County Sligo offers world class waves, and raw Atlantic ocean power. Renowned for some big waves spots including Mullaghmore, this area also offers some more sheltered bays with more manageable slabs and intermediate waves. On top of this the beautiful landscape, the history and culture in this and surrounding areas is undeniable. And what better way to finish a day of surfing than with a couple of Guinness pints. Yep Ireland is definitely one of the top spots on this list.

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Ollie O’flaherty in Sligo // @thomashorig

Scotland: 

Similarly to Ireland, the north of Scotland including the Shetland and Orkney Islands offer a bunch of world class waves and unique surfing experiences. Branching out from Thurso, you can easily find uncrowded slabs and dreamy point breaks with the waves to yourself. In the downtime you can visit the beautiful Scottish Highlands, poke around a few medieval castles or rest up at a pub for a pint and some haggis. Maybe even see if you can chase down the elusive Loch Ness Monster. 

Norway and Iceland:

Some of the most picturesque surfing locations in the world that have come into prominence in recent times exist at the foot of the mountains and volcanoes in Norway and Iceland. The whole west coast of Norway is dotted with unique surf spots that receive consistent swell from the North Atlantic. In the far north of the country in the Lofoten Islands, the bay of Unstad has both an epic left and right point break that can be world class on its day. On the flat days you can hit the mountains for some skiing, snowboarding and hiking and when the sun goes down, look up in the sky for the Northern Lights. The same applies in Iceland, however the waves may be even better here and the landscape more unique. These two regions offer much more than just epic waves.

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Torren Martyn in Iceland // @ishkaimagery

Tasmania and New Zealand

The sometimes forgotten gems in the South Pacific, both New Zealand and Tasmania receive consistent, large swell from the big storms produced in Antarctica. Most people know of the renowned big wave spot Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania, but it also offers many protected and sheltered bays that produce leg burning point breaks with idyllic backdrops. Crowds are rarely a factor, which is even more relevant in the South island of New Zealand. Much is still to be explored in the South Island of New Zealnad, compared to the North which has already been placed on the map by places like Raglan. Both places also offer unique cultures and landscapes on top of epic waves. Make sure you have a meat or vege pie when visiting, with a fierce competition raging between the Aussies and Kiwis about who makes the best.

Chile:

With a coastline stretching more than 6000 kilometres, it’s not surprising that Chile has pumping waves. However the concentration of better waves is arguably more prominent in the cold, southern parts of the country. The most renowned region Pichilemu, home to world renowned big wave spot Punta de Lobos, offers many other breaks for all levels of surfers. Much is also left to be explored heading down south and into the beautiful Patagonia region. Once again climbing, hiking and exploring parts of Southern Chile is just another tick to the bucket list, when surfing in this beautiful area.

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Ramon Navarro at Punta de Lobos // @dh_imagen

Canada:

No matter what coast you go to in Canada you are going to find pumping waves. Surfing was mainly put on the map in Canada in the places like Vancouver Island in the west, but the east of the country arguably has some better set ups especially in the region of Nova Scotia. Much is still to be explored in the large landmass and surrounding islands that is Canada and even north in Alaska. Like many of the other cold water spots on this list, Canadian surf spots are often circled by epic National Parks and some of the best skiing and snowboarding spots in the world. 

Russia:

Home to what many believe to be the most isolated surf spots in the world, Russia has opened the imagination to many of the world’s most hardcore surf adventurers in recent times. There is no doubt that Russia has epic waves, it is just a matter of if you can access them, with little access to the coast through roads and trails, as with many of the other spots on this list. The Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia is known to have Russia’s best surf conditions. Check out our ambassador Cyrus Sutton’s adventure here a few years back to get a better insight into what expect when surfing in Russia: 

If you decide to go on epic adventure to one of these locations be sure to check out one of our previous blog post to find some tips for cold water surfing: 

https://surfears.com/2021/11/24/are-cold-water-surf-trips-vogue/ 

Words: Sam Shearer

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Posted on:
January 27, 2022

Category:
Big waves, Cold water surfing, Environment, Surf Culture, surfing

Edited by:
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