When you think about surfing spots, the mind instantly jumps to sun-kissed beaches in Hawaii or Australia’s Gold Coast. But, believe it or not, our beautiful blue planet has also carved out surf havens in some unusual places.
If you are an experienced surfer, you’ve probably heard about some of them, but others may be a total surprise.
So, tighten your leash and wax down your board because we’re about to dive into the deep end of off-the-beaten-track surf spots!
Choose your surf spots
1. Eisbach River, Munich, Germany
Let’s kick things off in the heart of Bavaria. The vast expanse of the ocean gives way to the quaint yet exhilarating Eisbach River in Munich. This isn’t your average surf spot; the Eisbach delivers a powerful stationary wave nestled in the heart of a bustling city park.
Born from a river engineering anomaly, the wave offers a consistent yet challenging ride, drawing local enthusiasts and international pros.
Though it looks deceptively simple, the Eisbach wave is intense. Its rapid churn results from fast-flowing water surging over a concrete base, creating a wave around 1 meter high.
Ideal for shortboards, many surfers adopt a skateboarding style, focusing on tricks rather than long rides. Do note that due to its force and the underwater concrete structure, only experienced river surfers are advised to try their luck here.
As you dry off, Munich’s vast English Garden stretches around you in a green haven perfect for relaxation. Dive into the city’s culture with a visit to nearby art galleries, or reenergize with a glass of authentic Bavarian beer in a traditional beer garden.
📍MUNICH, GERMANY: EISBACH RIVER
APPEAL: Yes, you read that right! Eisbach River offers a stationary wave for river surfing right in the heart of Munich’s English Garden.
BEST SEASON: Year-round, though it can get very chilly in Winter.
HIGHLIGHTS: After surfing, indulge in some Bavarian treats in a cozy cafe nearby.
2. Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberia, Russia
The Kamchatka Peninsula, where frost-kissed landscapes and wild Pacific waves collide, is a surf frontier few dare to tread.
This remote Siberian gem offers pristine waves for those willing to brave its chilly embrace.
The surf spots here are raw, untamed, and beautifully unpredictable, owing to the region’s vast, uncharted coastline and active underwater topography.
The swell consistency varies, but when it hits, it delivers long, clean, and often deserted waves.
Surf spots like Khalaktyrsky Beach, with its volcanic black sands, boast powerful breaks that can rise several meters, driven by the Pacific Ring of Fire’s deep trenches and volcanic activities.
While the peninsula’s position assures consistent Pacific swells, be prepared for cold water sessions even in summer. A solid 5/4mm wetsuit, boots, and gloves are essentials here.
Beyond the surf, the land teems with wonders. Geothermal hot springs beckon — nature’s own jacuzzi, perfect for post-surf relaxation. Dive deeper into the wild by visiting the Valley of Geysers or witness the breathtaking sight of Klyuchevskaya Sopka, the northernmost active volcano, spewing its fiery plume against the icy backdrop.
📍SIBERIA, RUSSIA: KAMCHATKA PENINSULA
APPEAL: Catch waves with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains and occasionally brave the freezing waters of the Pacific.
BEST SEASON: Summer months, unless you’re up for the challenge of ice-cold Winter surfs.
HIGHLIGHTS: The region boasts incredible wildlife and volcanic landscapes.
3. Lake Superior, The Great Lakes, USA
Venture to where freshwater waves reign supreme — Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, where inland surfers chase the thrill against a backdrop of dense forests and rugged cliffs.
Often referred to as the “inland sea” due to its vast size, Lake Superior offers an unparalleled freshwater surfing experience.
Storm systems generate powerful gusts coming fall, transforming the usually placid lake into a surfer’s playground. The lake’s temperament shifts rapidly, giving rise to unpredictable and sometimes massive waves reminiscent of ocean swells.
Stoney Point, known for its fast and tubular waves, and Marquette’s Presque Isle Park, with its variety of breaks suitable for different skill levels, stand out as premier surf spots.
While the lake’s freshwater means no salty aftermath for your gear, the chilly water demands a good wetsuit, especially as winter approaches. The piercing cold adds to the adrenaline rush, making each ride a battle against wave and water temperature.
When the waves settle and your limbs crave warmth, venture into the encompassing forests. Explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where centuries of erosion have sculpted cliffs into natural canvases, awash with brown, green, and gold hues.
📍THE GREAT LAKES, USA: LAKE SUPERIOR
APPEAL: Freshwater surfing amidst the giant inland lakes of North America.
BEST SEASON: Fall, when strong winds produce the biggest waves.
HIGHLIGHTS: Spectacular fall colors along the coastline and the unique beauty of the lake’s surroundings.
4. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Step into the Arctic Circle, where Lofoten Islands shimmer with ethereal beauty and the surf echoes the symphony of nature. These Norwegian gems, rising dramatically from the North Atlantic, offer a surfing experience that’s nothing short of magical.
Unstad Bay, the archipelago’s surf epicenter, boasts consistent waves fueled by Arctic swells.
Given its northerly location, water temperatures are brisk year-round. However, that’s no deterrent for those eager to catch waves beneath the surreal spectacle of the Midnight Sun or the dancing Northern Lights. Here, powerful left and right point breaks converge with beach breaks, catering to surfers of various levels. The winter months, especially from October to March, offer the most consistent conditions, with playful and potent waves. A robust 6/5mm wetsuit with hood, gloves, and booties is essential in this cold water paradise.
But Lofoten is not just about the surf. The archipelago offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from its deep-rooted Viking history to the iconic red ‘rorbuer’ — traditional fishermen cabins now converted into cozy accommodations.
📍LOFOTEN ISLANDS, NORWAY
APPEAL: Surf under the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights in this Arctic surf destination.
BEST SEASON: Summer for milder temperatures, Winter if you hope to surf under the Aurora Borealis.
HIGHLIGHTS: Dramatic mountain landscapes, fishing villages, and unique Norwegian culture.
5. The Wave, Bristol, England
Venture inland to Bristol, where the future of surfing comes alive in the form of a man-made marvel — The Wave. This artificial surf lagoon promises the perfection of oceanic waves without the unpredictability, making it a game-changer for novice and seasoned riders.
Harnessing cutting-edge technology, The Wave can generate up to 1,000 waves an hour, ranging from gentle whitewater ripples ideal for beginners to powerful barrels challenging even the pros.
With controllable wave height, direction, and frequency, surfers can choose their thrill level or gradually progress their skills without fearing unexpected wipeouts. Longboarders, shortboarders, and bodyboarders alike can find their groove in this engineered paradise. Surfing sessions are organized into different zones based on expertise.
But beyond the breaks, Bristol is an ode to art and innovation. Its streets bear witness to the rebellious strokes of Banksy, and its vibrant neighborhoods are alive with music, theater, and an eclectic food scene.
📍BRISTOL, ENGLAND: THE WAVE
APPEAL: A man-made lagoon offering consistent waves powered by cutting-edge technology.
BEST SEASON: Year-round.
HIGHLIGHTS: The historic city of Bristol, with its rich maritime history and vibrant arts scene.
6. Desert Point, Indonesia
Where arid landscapes meet the vast Indian Ocean, Desert Point in Lombok is a testament to nature’s contrasts. This remote surf haven, only accessible by a dusty road, holds a secret that wave-riders only whisper about in reverent tones.
Stretching over a labyrinth of shallow coral reefs, Desert Point produces one of the world’s longest and most flawless left-hand barrels when the conditions align. The waves here, driven by the deep-water swells of the Indian Ocean, can offer rides lasting up to 20 seconds, making them the stuff of surfing legends.
The optimal time to catch these mythical waves is during the dry season between May and October. However, predicting the perfect swell can be an art in itself.
But the majesty of Desert Point comes with its challenges. The razor-sharp reef underneath demands respect and caution. A fall can lead to more than just a bruised ego; it’s a spot best suited for experienced surfers who have mastered the art of tube riding.
Beyond the waves, the serenity of Lombok offers a stark contrast to its bustling neighbor, Bali. The landscape here is dotted with traditional Sasak villages, lush rice paddies, and serene waterfalls.
📍DESERT POINT, INDONESIA
APPEAL: A remote surf spot in a dry desert landscape, starkly contrasting Bali’s tropical beaches.
BEST SEASON: May to October during the dry season.
HIGHLIGHTS: Crystal clear waters, cactus landscapes, and fewer crowds than other Indonesian surf spots.
7. Skeleton Bay, Namibia
On Namibia’s wild, wind-whipped coast, Skeleton Bay hides in plain sight, beckoning surfers with the promise of one of the world’s longest wave rides. This enigmatic sandbank, set against the desolate beauty of the Namib Desert, serves up a surf experience that’s both haunting and exhilarating.
Skeleton Bay’s most famous asset is its seemingly endless left-hand barrel, a product of the cold Benguela current meeting the desert’s heated land. When the swell direction, tide, and wind align — which often requires a blend of luck and keen forecasting skills — riders can find themselves locked into tubes stretching over a kilometer, challenging stamina and skill alike.
But be warned: while the waves can be the ride of a lifetime, they’re not for the faint-hearted. The fast-paced, heavy barrels come with the challenge of strong currents and the risk of being washed onto the sandbanks. Plus, the cold Atlantic water means a solid wetsuit is essential, even in the warmer months.
Between surf sessions, the desolate landscape of the Namib Desert offers its own kind of allure. It’s a place where the silence speaks, broken only by the whispers of ancient shipwrecks and the haunting calls of desert-adapted wildlife.
📍SKELETON BAY, NAMIBIA
APPEAL: One of the world’s longest left-hand waves, with rides lasting over 2 minutes.
BEST SEASON: June and July.
HIGHLIGHTS: The barren, otherworldly landscapes of the Namibian coastline.
8. Yakutat, Alaska
Amidst the icy splendor of Alaska, the remote town of Yakutat emerges as an unlikely surf sanctuary.
Set against the majestic backdrop of snow-clad mountains and sprawling glaciers, this little-known spot redefines cold water surfing.
Yakutat Bay, a gem on the Gulf of Alaska, receives powerful Pacific swells, giving rise to waves that can challenge even the more experienced. The bay is characterized by its various breaks — be it the consistent point breaks or the unpredictable beach breaks, both dishing out a mixture of long rides and quick, punchy tubes.
With water temperatures hovering around the chilly mark all year long, a heavy-duty wetsuit — think 6/5/4mm with hood, gloves, and booties — is not just recommended. It’s essential!
Yet, while the surf is the draw, it’s the surreal surroundings that elevate the Yakutat experience. Imagine carving a wave as bald eagles soar overhead and the distant rumble of calving glaciers echoes in your ears. It’s not just about the ride, but the ambiance that makes every surf session here feel like a scene from an epic adventure film.
APPEAL: Surfing amidst icebergs and possibly spotting wildlife like bears and seals.
BEST SEASON: Late spring and early summer.
HIGHLIGHTS: Glacier hikes and the raw, untouched beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.
9. Medewi, Bali’s West Coast
Medewi, located on Bali’s tranquil western coastline, is a hidden gem among the island’s surf spots. A juxtaposition of palm-fringed landscapes and rolling waves, Medewi is a haven for those searching for unhurried rides and authentic Balinese charm.
Medewi’s signature wave is a long left-hander that breaks over a rocky bottom, offering one of the longest rides on the island. This break’s slow, peeling nature is a joy for longboarders, allowing ample time for nose rides, cutbacks, and graceful carves.
While Medewi can accommodate various skill levels, the sharp stones and occasional powerful swells mean that some experience is beneficial. Surfing during mid to high tide can reduce the risk of encounters with the reef.
The morning sessions here are particularly magical, with glassy conditions and fewer crowds.
Beyond the allure of its waves, Medewi provides a window into Bali’s age-old traditions. Unlike its bustling counterparts down south, the pace here is gentle, dictated by the rhythms of rice cultivation and temple ceremonies.
📍MEDEWI, BALI’S WEST COAST
APPEAL: A quieter alternative to Bali’s crowded southern coast, offering a peeling left-hand point break.
BEST SEASON: April to October.
HIGHLIGHTS: A more traditional Balinese experience, with serene rice fields and local temples.
10. Casablanca, Morocco
Ditch the typical Moroccan surf spots and let the rhythmic Atlantic swells of Casablanca draw you in. With a mix of beach breaks and point breaks, surfers can enjoy a variety of waves here.
The Ain Diab coast, often called the “Anfa Place,” offers consistent waves, thanks to the NW/NNW swells. But beware of occasional rips, and always keep an eye on the tidal changes.
Once you’ve ridden enough waves for the day, delve into the city‘s intricate blend of traditional Moroccan allure and French colonial elegance. The art-deco buildings, standing tall beside the winding alleyways of the old Medina, tell tales of times gone by.
APPEAL: While Morocco might be known for its world-class right-handers in places like Taghazout, Casablanca offers a unique urban surf experience.
BEST SEASON: September to April.
HIGHLIGHTS: After your surf session, indulge in Moroccan cuisine or explore the rich history of this iconic city.
In the end, surfing is as much about the journey and the destination as it is about the waves. These unique spots remind us that sometimes the best adventures lie in the unexpected.
So next time you plot a surf trip, why not take the less travelled path? Dive into history, culture, and, of course, some spectacular waves at these hidden surf spots.
Happy travels and even happier surfing!
The World’s 10 Most Unusual Surf Spots
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