© Benjamin Herrgott

Cold surf: where snow, waves and ice create the impossible


Surfing is one sport many people would consider as ‘extreme’, and most of us here do agree with that, having only to decide if its more the fear of the endless power of water to put off even the most experienced swimmers or a certain dislike for big and teeth-y fish coming to check out if you are paddling to the right spot.

If you have tried or come across surfing, you know it is a sport for those who have no fears. But the type of waves we are going to disclose on our editorial pushes any type of limit ever set even by those surfers equipped with bags of stamina and bravery: it goes by the name cold surf.

Why cold surfing?

If the level of difficulty increases, chances are the kids will have more fun – isn’t that what they say?- and that’s exactly what makes cold surf the ultimate goal for many pros. Plus, the waves are some scary monsters and no one, except the local and rare wildlife, will interrupt your session.

From the Arctic to the scenic landscape in Norway, here are the cold surf spots to hit all-year-round.


Kamchatka Peninsula is the name you will be Googling after this: it’s still a rather unexplored remote cold surfing spot, but you are in for an adventure on top of plenty of good sessions. The water is obviously really cold and arranging to reach to shores by land might prove even more of a challenge than riding Kamchatka’s waves. The scenario is pretty stunning too, with lava rivers flowing in the sea and the volcano as a backdrop: the main spot to hit is the Khalaktyrskoye beach, covered entirely in black volcanic sand.

Photo by Anna Gavrilova

Thurso East, Scotland

For those of you reading D360 from the UK, you will be happy to hear you don’t need to fly over to some remote location across the pond, you can simply hop your board on your roof rack and do the few hours drive (in worst case scenario) and stop at ‘premier reef break and world class barrel’ Thurso. It is considered one of the hollowest and longest rides in Europe.


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Iceland does not joke around in terms of extreme weather conditions, with strong winds and constant below zero temperatures. The coast offers premium beach breaks for beginners as well as reefs and point breaks, especially those breaking in proximity of the rocks. The Reykjanes peninsula is where to find the best cold surfing conditions as well as the blissful volcanic land scenario only Iceland can offer.

Arctic Circle

Some people push themselves as far as the Arctic Circle to watch the Northern lights – which you can read about here – and others venture through ice and blizzards in search of the perfect ride. In Norway, apparently, professional surfers come from all over the world to do both. The spot to hit is Unstad in Lofoten, Norway.


New Jersey, New York, New England and Nova Scotia have had some pretty harsh winters and after rumours that ‘ big waves’ were coming, it actually happened: big tubes, the ones never surfed before, started to form and with that the US East Coast could be officially named as one of the favourite cold surf spots.

The equipment

It goes without saying that along with the best equipment for cold waters and freezing temperatures, getting into cold surf  is a matter of experience, fitness and doing some research homework:  before you get your surfboard calling you asking to set off for one of these locations, you must reflect on how ready you are for this.

Once that’s out of the way, you can take a look at the type of gear you would need to fight your worst enemy, hypothermia: neoprene boots, gloves and hoods are surely essential. The surf industry has come up with innovative battery-powered heated wetsuits, so that you can count on some extra help in keeping you alive during your session.

Don’t forget that the preparation and warm up time before a session is as important as the right gear in order to make it in the ice. So make sure your out of the water gear is as appropriate as your neoprene wetsuit

And, to restore your body temperature after the ice, you can always fetch yourself a session in the ‘Surf Sauna’: a portable sauna made in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that can be rented for the days as well bough for your own personal use.


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