Two tectonic plates meet slap bang in the middle of Iceland. Little surprise then that this island’s been a hotbed of volcanic activity for years. Perhaps more surprising is that there’s surf in Iceland. And it’s good.
Forget sunset-stained images of California with old-school dudes in beach shorts hanging ten – think huge volcanic backdrops, black beaches and blacked out neoprene surfers.
And it’s beautiful! Just make sure you come prepared for the temperatures, which could freeze the doors off a fridge…
Iceland recently won the Best European Country award in the Guardian’s Readers Travel Awards 2012. Known as ‘the island of fire and ice’, it’s always attracted visitors in awe of its volcanic vistas. But surfers?
Local die-hards are known to pour hot water over themselves as soon as they strip off to get their body temperatures up before whacking on the layers.
Water temperatures in winter range from 4C down to -1C, which limits the time you can spend waiting to catch waves. And according to a feature in Iceland Review Online, it’s not unknown for seals to join in the fun!
Looking for waves you’ll wander snow-covered beaches (empty snow-covered beaches) at the foot of volcanic mountains, and sometimes even catch the Aurora Borealis over head.
Not many surfers will ever ride these waves or get these moments. So, if you do travel to surf in Iceland, take your camera. Take two cameras and max out the memory cards; this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff.
So what can you do to prepare for the unavoidable temperature shock?
First up, you don’t need to surf in winter – there are waves year round. Secondly, make sure you’ve got a hooded and booted drysuit, and gloves and a rash vest. And thirdly, think like an adventurer and prepare your warm food/ drinks and clothing for when you get out.
This winter we stocked up on all sorts of walking and trekking gear. There’s nothing technically specific about surf branded warm kit; you’re just as well, if not better off when out of the water, with trekking gear or quality layers.
Traditional thinking says, bag a thermal layer, a mid-layer fleece (make it a thicker one in this case) and a windproof as your stating point. But if after leaving the surf in Iceland all you’re doing is defrosting in the car, you can opt for fatter, more comfy puffer jackets.
And a huge flask of tea!