Surfing in Iceland – Arctic Surfing


The dazzling land of fire and ice, Iceland has a tremendous amount of beauty in its wake. Nature lovers, explorers, adventurers and so many others who visit Iceland find their peace in the country. But Iceland does not stop at that. A wonder of water, surfing is also a crucial part of the country. Blessed with ample water bodies such as hot streams, waterfalls, lakes among others; Iceland is serene heaven for those who are pursuing surfing professionally or want to try the sport for the first time in their lives. Many tourists do not even know that Iceland is among the best places for surfing in Europe. Surfing in the region is by far one of the best things you can do. Though there is less number of sunny beaches and warm water bodies, still Icelandic landscape makes surfing exotic. After all, who wouldn’t want to ride out wild Arctic waves surrounded by ice, volcanoes, and fields of lava? Also, if you want to avoid extremely populated beaches and stuffed seashores, arctic surfing in Iceland fits the bill perfectly. Freezing cold, adrenaline trigger, refreshing- this is how surfers describe their experience of surfing in Iceland.

A mesmerizing and perfect wave is often searched by surfers around the world. While most surfers find their perfect sea playground on beaches amidst heavy crowds, surfers in Iceland have managed to keep their amazing secret to themselves. As a new explorer, you can always find treasures in the palpable beauty of Iceland. Surfing is getting popular among foreigners as well as the Icelanders. Arctic Surfing in Iceland is quite difficult and demanding. So if you are looking to tick surfing off your bucket list, you need proper training, just like any other sport, and a thorough knowledge of Arctic weather, waves, and strategy. After all, the challenge is what pushes surfers into the water. While for trained professionals surfing can be fun in Iceland, it is usually not the same for beginners or amateurs. Surfers must have some experience before they indulge in cold water surfing in Iceland as the best waves sometimes break close to risky rocks and cliffs which can be seriously harming. Also, as a bit of strict advice, follow the rule of never surfing alone to minimize the risk of any mishappening.

Surfing in snow in Icelandic winter

Best Season For Trying Your Hand At Surfing In Iceland

Surfing in Iceland poses constant challenges in the form of freezing water, accumulated lava, snowstorms, and windstorms. Some beaches are composed of sharp rocks. In this situation, you must always be acquainted with weather conditions and the best season to surf. Though experienced and enthusiastic Icelandic surfers enjoy surfing all year round, winter is probably a great season for arctic surfing in Iceland. Most surfers dive into the water between October and March when Iceland is hit by heavy storms from all directions. It is the season when it seems waves themselves are calling out to the surfers. Thrill and adventure double up for surfers during the winter season but at the same time, it also increases the risk for you, after all, there are still windstorms and snowstorms. Before starting your arctic adventure, always take your time and carefully study the weather forecast. If you crave an arctic surfing adventure in Iceland, a thorough study of tidal projection and weather conditions is highly recommended.

Joining the Locals

Another key aspect is getting in touch with locals or experienced surfers’ communities who have been practicing locally for a long time so that you have a total grip on all conditions required for surfing in Iceland. Connecting with locals is not just helpful for your surfing experience, but it generally provides you insights for your journey further in the exploration of the land. Seeking guidance from locals for accurate information reduces the probability of risks and harm. It builds your understanding too, so that when you go back home and someone needs guidance for surfing you can provide it. It takes a fair amount of time and training to get accustomed to surfing, tracking good locations, and studying the weather especially in countries like Iceland which are challenging in terms of atmosphere. That is why it is advised that you contact local surfers, who not only specialize in training but also provides insights to what all can be experienced and where. The surfing community in Iceland is very close-knit as there are not too many surfers in the arctic waters. Like anywhere in the world, Iceland’s local surfers want to protect secret surfing spots to maintain the cleanliness and keep those amazing surf destinations away from the masses. Travelers and explorers who are keen to surf must therefore value local people in the water and understand that Icelandic surfers prefer to share their waves rather than compete with them.

Surfing in Iceland

Experience You Require For Surfing

Most of the guided surfing tours are organized for intermediate surfers by arctic surfers as fewer people like to take the risk in the cold waters of Iceland that is inevitable with beginners. The tour guides do not provide basic courses for beginners, hence some hands-on experience is a prerequisite for surfing in Iceland. But beginners do not have to let themselves down as there are some other suitable options for beginners. For total beginners, there are different surfing options such as surf school for absolute beginners. In some schools, you will be offered all the necessary gear you need for entering the zone of surfing, such as a wetsuit and surfboard. Both advanced and beginner tours are operated around the Reykjanes Peninsula, approximately a one hour drive from Reykjavík.

Gears You Need For Surfing

For the ease of surfers, both experienced and amateurs, the gear is available on rent. They can be rented for surfing from the organizers of the tours or the place from where you take the training to surf. You can buy your own too, as that will be new gear and it will remind you to take on more surfing adventures around the world.  The surfer guides provide the surf wear and a wide variety of surfboards. A four mm wetsuit is needed in the summer, while a 6 mm wetsuit is important for winters. Nice and sturdy boots, gloves, and hoods are essentials to be carried. Make sure you are particular about each accessory because these things keep you afloat underwater. Also, do not forget the earplugs to save your ears from icy cold water and its harming effects.

Fun Facts About Surfing

Do you know about the surfer’s ear?

Surfers are frequently exposed to windy and wet conditions. It is caused due to exposure to cold water and wind, particularly the combination of the two because when your ears are wet and the wind produces a chill factor. It is assumed that the extra bone growth, also called exostosis, is the protective mechanism for the body to protect the eardrum. But this growth keeps increasing as you surf more in cold waters and ultimately develop the surfer’s ear. Hence professionals and surfing instructors always keep it mandatory for you to wear earplugs.

Places To Hit For Surfing In Iceland

Reykjanes peninsula is a popular destination for surfers in Iceland. Surrounded by the mountains as red as blood, the Reykjanes peninsula is approximately an hour’s drive from Iceland’s capital city Reykjavík but it can transport you close to the crazy Nordic waves. The fuming volcanic land of the peninsula makes it an exciting surfing experience. A beautiful moonlike landscape rejuvenates the eyes of the onlookers. The peninsula’s coastline is mostly made up of ancient lava flows where the majority of the waves part on extremely sharp volcanic reefs, therefore are advised for more experienced surfers. The black sand beach at Sandvik is considered good if you are a beginner. The wetsuit that you use for surfing provides some protection, but you need to be careful and in better shape.

Various Surfing Schools To Train

The Surf School is suitable for beginners. If you are not a beginner, you can also choose more advanced surf tours for intermediate surfers, but the basic training is great for those who are at the starting mark. You will also be provided with the necessary gear you need for entering the cold water, wetsuit and surfboard included. It is possible to have a pick-up and drop-off for the surf school and surf tours from your accommodation in Reykjavik. These tours are best suited for everyone from new learners to the old ones. The training duration is five to seven hours. An advanced surf tour is also offered which has a training time of six to eight hours. With this course, there are services like the provision of tour guide and pick up and drop in at your stay. So that you can focus on your surfing completely leaving all other arrangements on them.

There are also other tours that you can participate in, but those are mostly for advanced surfers. They are like a specialization school for surfers. So if you are beginning, this is not your cup of tea but if you have explored surfing to an extent and looking for further adventure in the field, then this one’s for you. With surf gear and transportation, these tours also provide a professional guide, which means a chance to immerse in the beauty of Iceland underwater with well-informed individuals. Packed lunch and local parks are also some of the advantages that you are likely to get with these tours. The training duration is 6 to 8 hours. A vacation for about a week at a place like Iceland is never a bad idea. If you are an adventure enthusiast and like to taste thrilled with activities like surfing for several days, then the fun of vacation amplifies. With this thought, you can also join some Multi-Day Adventure surf tour which includes a professional guide and surf guide for five days, transportation that fits the tour, surf gear, four nights of accommodation outside Reykjavík, hot pools among other activities and perks. You will also get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. This trip, though sounds really fun, is advisable only for surfers with some experience who have prior training.

Prior training is a major requirement for almost any trip that you would undertake for surfing in Iceland. With some breath-taking water bodies and sceneries come some amount of risk that can only be minimized via staunch training. The advice to not hop in alone for surfing in Iceland because arctic waters are unforgiving, cold, and even vicious sometimes. Great company and some caution can make your trip and surfing experience worthwhile and one that stays in your memory for years. Additionally, it makes you informed enough that you can surely help someone who might be looking for some surfing-related advice in Iceland.

  • Tick surfing off the bucket list
  • Try your hand at the sport
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