Surfing in the Arctic

It is a cold February morning and I am in the "capitol" of Lofoten Islands, Svolvær. I just woke up to a blizzard and I am supposed to go sightseeing. Today is also the day I am supposed to go surfing in the arctic. Well my mother taught me there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. So I grab my sneakers ( I know, sneakers in northern Norway during winter, what an idiot ! ) and my very thin jacket and I go to pick up my rental car.

Driving in a blizzard is not something I would recommend doing, Especially if you find yourself in a place you have never been before. We are on our way to Unstad Beach. A tiny place famous for spectacular mountains and great waves. It is one of the best cold water surf spots in the world, at least that is what I have heard. There are two places in the world I know about that have gotten the nickname "cold Hawaii"and this is one of them.

After driving very slowly for a couple of hours we finally find our exit off the main road and luckily a snow-prep machine is parked at the crossing. We get out of the car and ask him if the road down to Unstad is safe to drive. He was just there and is giving us the thumbs up! From the crossing we drive about 9 kilometers before we arrive at the beach. Suddenly out of nowhere it stops snowing and I see blue skies. This is mother nature way of giving us the thumbs up as well I think.

After standing on deck in windy cold weather at the Hurtigruta ferry the night before I managed to catch a cold. I have a fever and I am definitely not up for surfing in cold water today, but my boyfriend is and I am excited to take some photos of him in this amazing scenery.

We drive down to the beach and the waves are pumping. My boyfriend turns around and starts walking to find a surf shop. Everything looks closed down. I know there is a Scandinavian surf contest in Stavanger this weekend so our chances of finding a surfer in Unstad this weekend are slim to none. After 30 minutes he finally finds a guy and rents a board. He starts walking through knee deep snow, reaches the beach and jumps into the freezing water. He paddles out, dodges and duck dives a few waves before he reaches the best place to sit. Usually when you are new to a surf spot you figure out the best place to sit by looking at the lineup, but there is no one in the water. The whole beach is empty and he has got the waves all to him self.

 

I am standing on the beach, with my runny nose, fourteen layers of clothing and my camera. Trying to stay warm and hopefully get some good shots. It is about 3 degrees Celsius in the water and the air temperature is about -2 degrees. The waves are pumping and the scenery is breathtaking. I am blown away by this place and I am taking more photographs than ever before. My fingers are cold, but there is no way I am going back to the car now. This experience is almost surreal and I want to capture this moment. Not just for my blog and Instagram, but for my friends, my future kids and grand-kids. I want to show them how amazingly beautiful Norway is when mother nature is at its finest and most unforgiving.

After about half an hour the snowstorm returns. My boyfriend is now surfing in a blizzard and I am not going to miss that. The photos look amazing. This surf session just turned into my most memorable one yet. And I am not even in the water.

While reading this you might be thinking, is she crazy, or is he crazy. Well yes we probably are, but to me this is what traveling is all about. Getting into the unknown, literally jumping into the unknown and having the craziest adventure that you will never forget.

After an hour of battling waves and snow he is back on the beach. Cold and happy. " I just surfed in a blizzard! I cant wait to tell my friends about this". We walk up to the car, he gets out of his wet-suit and into some dry clothes. I see him smiling as we drive away from Unstad. We both now what a crazy and surreal experience we just had. He is speechless, I am speechless, which never happens. I thought waking up to a blizzard our experience of Lofoten wold be less then I expected. Turned out it was even better than I ever could have hoped for.

 

Snow covered landscape, majestic mountains and ice cold water. Surfing during the winter in Norway is not for the fainthearted. But if this sounds like something you would like to experience keep reading:

 

How to get to there

By car

 The easiest way from Bodø is taking the ferry to Moskenes. Takes 3.5 hr. Drive from Moskenes on E10 towards Leknes. From Leknes continue approx. 15-20 min on E10. Turn left at the sign to Unstad before the LOFTR Viking museum. Keep going straight until you are there – 9 km.
ESTIMATED TIME: Trondheim – Unstad: 13 hr. Bodø – Unstad: 4,5 hr.


Follow the E10 from Lødingen, drive through Svolvær until you reach the LOFTR Viking museum, slow down and take a right at the sign to Unstad. 9 km and you are there!
ESTIMATED TIME: Tromsø – Unstad: 8 hr. Evenes – Unstad: 4 hr.

By plane

The nearest airport to Unstad is Leknes (LKN)
From Oslo (OSL) – Bodø (BOO), operated either by SAS or NORWEGIAN
From Bodø (BOO) – Leknes (LKN), operated by WIDERØE

An alternative airport is Evenes (EVE) but then you need a car from Evenes – Unstad (4 hr)

By boat

From Bodø, you can take a beautiful journey with the coastal steamer “Hurtigruten”.
This historical boat trip takes 4 hours from Bodø to Stamsund.
Departure Bodø at 15.00. Arrival Stamsund at 19.00.
From Stamsund to Unstad it is an approx. 35 min drive.

 

Where to stay

Unstad Arctic Surf has a lot of cabins you can rent at various prices. They also have a camping area where you can bring your tent, caravan or mobile home.

surf rental

Unstad Arctic Surf also rents out boards and wetsuits for both winter and summer. They also have packages for beginners and more advanced surfers with accommodation and equipment rental.

 

For more information check out there website:

http://www.unstadarcticsurf.com/