Cold Water Surfing in Iceland: Adventure like No Other

Hiking through a lava field, visiting active volcanoes, reaching the top of a glacier...anything else on your Iceland bucket list? And what about surfing? Many visitors do not even know that Iceland is among the best destinations for surfing in Europe!

Freezing cold, unpredictable, breathtaking. This is how surfing in Iceland is described by those who have tried it. For surfers around the world, it is often very hard to picture how incredible this country is when it comes to surfing. For Icelandic surfers, Iceland means crazy days with empty waves. So what do you need to know before getting into this unique activity?

Photo: Arctic Surfers.

Surfing below the arctic circle

Many surfers traveled the world in search of the perfect wave, while surfers in Iceland have this amazing hidden secret just for them. However, cold water surfing is getting more and more popular among both Icelanders and foreign surfers. Surfing in Iceland is by far much more challenging and it requires a full understanding of the arctic water, waves and strategy. The challenge is after all what brings surfers into the ocean.

On the other hand, surfing in Iceland is usually not meant for beginners. Since the best waves often break very close to dangerous rocks and cliffs, surfers should have some experience before trying the cold Icelandic water. It is required to be extremely careful and in good shape, and the number one rule of Iceland surfers is to never surf alone.

Where to go surfing in Iceland?

Reykjanes peninsula is thought to be a well-known location for surfers in Iceland. Just an hour’s drive from Iceland's capital city Reykjavík can bring you close enough to the crazy nordic waves. While the majority of the waves break by the cliffs, therefore are better for more experienced surfers, a black sand beach Sandvík is perfect for beginners.

When is the best season for trying the Icelandic water?

Even though the most enthusiastic Icelandic surfers enjoy surfing all year round, winter is probably the best season for cold water surfing in Iceland. Most surfers jump into the water between October and March when heavy storms tend to hit Iceland from all directions. Before starting your arctic adventure, always take your time and carefully study the weather forecast.

Chasing the best waves with locals

Many surfers who come to Iceland to chase perfect waves might leave disappointed. Mastering surfing in Iceland is not only related to accepting freezing water and hostile environment. It takes some time and knowledge to spot the best location, study the weather and get used to difficult surfing conditions. That is why it is suggested to contact local surfers to lead you during your arctic experience. The Icelandic surfing community is very close-knit since there are not too many surfers in the arctic waters.

Just like everywhere else, local surfers from Iceland want to protect secret surf locations and keep this amazing surf destination far from the masses. Therefore, travelers that are keen on surfing have to respect locals in the water and understand that Icelandic surfers prefer to share their waves rather than compete.

Experience required

Trips organized by Arctic Surfers are designed for the intermediate surfers. They do not provide surf courses for beginners, therefore basic surfing skills are required.

For total beginners who want to try surfing for the very first time, Adventure Vikings' Beginner Surf School might be the best option. The company provides more advanced surf tours for intermediate surfers, as well as surf school for absolute beginners. You will be offered all the necessary gear you need for entering the cold water, wetsuit and surfboard included. Both advanced and beginner tours are operated around Reykjanes Peninsula, approximately a one hour drive from Reykjavík.

What to bring

If you decide to join an organized tour, you can always rent the equipment from Arctic Surfers. The company provides surf gear and a wide selection of surfboards. In the summer, a 4mm wetsuit is required, while in the winter, you will need a 6mm wetsuit. Do not forget good boots, gloves and hood.

Here are your options:

Surf school with Adventure Vikings (suitable for beginners)
Duration: 5-7 hours
Price: 18.900 ISK
Includes: pick-up and drop-off, guide, all necessary surfing gear
Rank: Easy, suitable for everyone
You can book the course here .

Surf tour with Arctic Surfers
Duration: 6-8 hours
Price: 39.900 ISK
Includes: guide, surf gear, transportation, packed lunch and local perks
Rank: Medium, suitable for advanced surfers

Multi-Day Adventure surf tour with Arctic Surfers
Duration: Five days and four nights
Price: 299.900 ISK
Includes: A tour guide and surf guide for five days, transportation that fits the tour, surf gear, four nights of accommodation outside Reykjavík, geothermal pools and all other activities and perks. All meals during the trip consist of: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Rank: Medium, suitable for advanced surfers

Surf tour with Adventure Vikings
Duration: 6-8 hours
Price: 33.900 ISK
Includes: Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel, guide, all necessary equipment for surfing
Rank: Medium, suitable for advanced surfers

This article is entirely based on my own thoughts. The companies that are featured in this article did not offer sponsorship of any kind when the article was written.