Your epic Guide to Surfing Norway
Surfing might not be the first thing that strikes you when thinking about Norway but let me tell you – it should! Norway surf has world-class waves, friendly people, zero crowds and surf culture unlike most places you´ve ever visited. All this and more make Norway more exotic than most other places I´ve surfed. The epic surf combined with the stunning views of arctic fjord nature and sometimes snow-covered beaches, Norway’s thriving nature and wildlife makes one of the most unique and thrilling surf destinations in the world. …but yeah, it’s cold, very cold.
Your epic guide to Surfing Norway
When to visit
When to go surfing in Norway really depends on your skill level, but even more on your ability to enjoy things in the cold. Surfing in Norway always calls for boots, gloves, and a hoodie so if you can´t bear the cold, this isn´t a surf destination for you. During winter, the air temperature stays around 0°C / 36°F and the water a few degrees higher. In the summer, air and water temperatures stay around 15°C / 59°F.
While April to October offers milder temperatures and more comfortable surfing conditions it is also the season of smaller waves, making it suitable for all levels of surfers. The waves will reach around 2,5m / 8 ft in the colder months and about half of that in June and July. You´ll find the biggest (3m / 10 ft) and most consistent swells (around 95 % swell consistency) in wintertime, from November to March. The combination of big swells and cold temperatures makes the winter season the time for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Your best option is to fly into Bergen, as it is the closest airport to most surfing destinations in Norway. Another great option, if you have a bit more time, or if you´re looking to save some bucks on airfare, is to fly to Oslo. If you choose to fly to Oslo, you have a magnificent 8 hour car drive to the swells. The ride along the stunning coastline is well worth the extra hours and calls for an excellent opportunity for a few stops along the road to see the Norwegian fjords Many of the best surf spots can be found on the westernmost part of mainland Norway, in the Stad peninsula, which gets hit by waves from both the North and the South.
As all the surf spots are located in areas where there is little to no public transportation you will need to rent a car to get around.
Skill level: All levels
The stretch of coastline along Jæren close to Stavagner is the perfect spot to try the waves of Norway and it has also hosted Eurosurf in 2017. Jæren offers surfing spots that range from easy and gentle beaches for beginners to more demanding boulder rock points for more advanced surfers.
The swell in the summer and early fall is for beginners while the more experienced surfers should head here in fall or winter.
The best spots are found on the beaches of Solastrand, Hellestø, Sele Point, Borestrand, Brusand and Ogna.
Beware that it is a natural protected area and all visits have to be made on foot.
Surf camp in Jæren
Boretunet offers everything from surf lessons and packages to surf camps. It is located within walking distance of the beach and really is a one of a kind accommodation in old renovated wooden containers with outdoor showers and a true community spirit. It´s a great starting point for your Norwegian surfing adventures.
Skill level: All levels
Hoddevik with its sandy rocky bottom and good beach break which works on most NW swells and offers a consistent surf is widely known as the best surfing spot in Norway. Being the best surfing spot in Norway it might also be the most crowded. However overcrowding isn´t really something that applies to surf spots in Norway, so don´t worry, you will be able to enjoy your time in the water without being bothered by others.
Hoddeviks white sandy beach is located on the Norwegian west coast and surrounded by high impressive mountains. The landscape is absolutely stunning and while surfing might be your main priority, Hoddevik has a lot more to offer. Enjoy beautiful hikes during the daytime, campfires on the beach at sunset and shooting stars in the clear sky at night. Meeting other surfers here is easy and the vibes leave nothing more to wish for.
Surf camps in Hoddevik
There are a few surf camps and schools in Hoddevik, so regardless if you´re a beginner or advanced you´ll be able to enjoy the swells in Hoddevik.
I would recommend either laPoint surf camp or Stad surfing. Both camps offer gear rental and accommodation in their lodges. The rooms are comfy and the views from the lodges are spectacular! As anywhere in Norway, you also have the option to camp by the beach.
My personal favorite, Stad surfing, has the most amazing beachside café, with fresh, seasonal food and waffles to die for! Stad surfing also offers yoga classes and even hosts yoga retreats in combination with the surf camps. The staff at Stad Surfing has great ocean knowledge and the camp really offers a once in a lifetime experience where you make friends for life!
Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
About a 30 min drive from Hoddevik you will find Ervik. Ervik picks up more swell than Hoddevik and is more suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers. Ervik is truly a hidden gem located nestled in an absolutely stunning bay with a beautiful sandy beach. Ervik is an exposed point break with a rocky bottom and mostly right-hander waves. It offers a consistent surf that works at any time during the year. Warning, there´s a shipwreck here that is easy to hit, so take care and get a local surfer to help you locate it before going out!
The village of Ervik is very small and I would recommend staying in Hoddevik as the options for accommodation in Ervik are limited. Rent your equipment at Ervik Surf Shop. The shop offers equipment rental suitable for the cold waters as well as surf lessons and the staff is more than happy to share their surf stories over a coffee.
4. Unstad, Lofoten
Skill level: All levels
The left-handed wave in the sea at Unstad, coming in all the way from Greenland, is hands down one of the best in the world. Gentle summer waves make it perfect for beginners, while advanced and professionals should head here in the winter. Nowhere else in Northern Europe is more guaranteed to have waves than Unstad. Unstad competes with places like Biarritz in France and Nazaré in Portugal to be one of the best surfing spots in Europe.
I don´t think there is any other place in the world like Unstad Norway. Unstad is north of the arctic circle with crystal clear sparkling fjords, plenty of space, no overcrowding, beautiful landscape and surfing under the Midnight sun or the Northern Lights. Unstad, Lofoten is a bucket list destination for sure.
Unstad beach is facing north-west while the predominately wind and waves are W/SW, which gives the place mostly offshore winds, perfect for the surf rolling in here.
Lofoten is particularly appealing as it offers both great surfing and snowboarding. Making it easy to combine the two board sports in one epic shredder trip. Unstad also offers great hiking opportunities in summer and early fall as well as beautiful nature and an interesting Viking heritage.
Surf camp in Unstad
Unstad Arctic Surf is a surf camp founded by Thor Frantzen and Hans Egil Krane, considered to be the first surfers in Norway. Unstad Arctic Surf offers a home away from home with different lodgings for different budgets. The staff has great knowledge about surfing and is super helpful. Meals are amazing and make sure to try the cinnamon bun at their café – the best treat after a day in the cold waters. Another great treat is the saunas and hot tubs. I really can´t stress enough how amazing this place is!
5. Saltstein, Oskofjord
Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
Saltstein outside Larvik is the place where the population of the Norwegian capital Oslo venture out for waves on the weekend. The quality of the waves here varies hugely, with the best surfing to be had in late summer. Being close to Oslo it can get a bit crowded and competitive sometimes, however, the vibe is still pretty chill. With rip currents, tricky entries and exits out of the water this spot it is not for beginners. The Rocky rights and lefts offer long rides and ramp-like waves.
Skill level: Advanced only
Ulla is definitely only for thrill-seeking rippers. The wave quality is world-class and the surf consistency is very high, with around 150 days of surf per year. It has a reef and rocky bottom with powerful waves from both right and left. It works at all tides with swells starting at 1m / 3ft and holds up to 5m / 16 ft and over. There are rips and undertows so make sure that you know what you are doing!
Ulla, formerly a little fishing community, lies on the northwest side of Haramsøy and can be easily accessed by car (and a short ferry ride). It is not only a paradise for surf professionals, but offers everything from deep-sea fishing, sports diving, free diving, fishing for lobster and crabs, and hikes in the mountains and along the breathtaking beaches. In other words, if you are not yet that advanced in your surfing you should come to watch the pros rip and feast on crabs and lobster you fished yourself when the swell was not on.
Top tips before you go
1. You need a 5/6 mm wetsuit and 5 mm gloves and booties. Unless you´re used to surfing in cold waters I would recommend renting your equipment in Norway. The boards and gear are specially designed for the conditions there and will make surfing a lot more comfortable and less cold than you think.
2. Make sure to be on top of your gear. While there are surf shops, you won´t find them lined up one after another. Forgetting something might leave you without surfing for a day or more.
3. Remember it is prohibited to surf on beaches affected by bird protection (1 Oct – 31 March), so make sure to check before you hit the waves!
4. When renting a car, make sure it is a good one and make sure it heats up fast and that there’s plenty of space. You´ll need more gear than you’re used to.
5. Even if the surf is pretty consistent in Norway, it is still surfing and it takes planning and patience. While you might be used to chilling under a palm tree, sipping on a coconut, here you´ll spend most of the waiting game indoors. Stack up on books, board games and other pastimes.
6. Planning is the key to success. The spots are not mapped out like you´re used to in the tropical surf spots. Here it works more by word to mouth. Luckily meeting surfers and making friends is easy and the locals are happy to share their knowledge, which is rare so be grateful and respectful in the water.
7. Be aware that the weather changes rapidly in Norway, so things might not always turn out the way you planned.
8. There are no short drives and “just around the corner” when it comes to surfing in Norway, calculate for driving time and plan well ahead. I would say you need around an hour or two per day to plan your surfing. Miscalculate and you might miss the best waves of the day.
9. Respect the elements. The weather can be moody and rough. Don´t try to push it or be a hero here. The waters are ice cold, the storms can roll in fast, and the sea can get violent like nowhere else. The more advanced surf spots are usually pretty empty, meaning you can only count on yourself. If the weather prevents you from hitting the waves, do something else and come back another time.
10. When things don´t go the way you planned, don´t despair. Traveling Norway offers a jaw-dropping landscape with dozens of other activities, kite and windsurfing, fishing, diving and hiking. Along the coasts, you´ll find plenty of sustainable farms with local produce eager to show you what Norway has to offer. And almost anywhere you´ll be welcomed with open arms for a coffee and a chat.
How excited are you about surfing Norway? Let us know in the comments below.
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