Surfing brings images of gorgeous coastal waves in Hawaii, California or perhaps in Portugal in mind. Young, tanned surfers smile in the sunshine with surfboards under their arms. Surfing may have its origins in warm seas and sunny places, but some surfers have discovered a special place to ride the waves in the far north, in Norway.
Tatiana Weimer reported in Le Monde that she had discovered a surfing community in the tiny village of Unstad in Norway. Norway may be a somewhat exotic place for surfing, and Unstad even more so. It is located north of the Arctic Circle on Lofoten islands. Essentially, this is Lapland where you are supposed to ski, take a ride on a sledge pulled by huskies, fish, or photograph reindeers instead of riding the waves on a surfboard.
Nonetheless, that is exactly what the first brave surfers have been doing in Unstad since 1963. Only a few were ready to fight the temperatures fifty years ago, but as equipment have developed, more surfers have taken interest in northern waves. In 2003, Unstad Camping was established to provide shelter and accommodation for surfers and travelers (Unstad is a very remote location in a remote region of Lapland, facing directly the Atlantic Ocean. If the waves are great, the wind and rain can be strong as well.)
The remarkable thing is that it is possible to surf at Unstad in winter when it is dark, but the Northern Lights may light up the sky. Another remarkable thing is that the sea is free of ice, even though a few meters/feet above sea level or a few hundred meters/yards away from the shore everything is covered in snow or ice. The explanation is the Gulf Stream which carries warm water from south to the shores of Western Europe, keeping its climate temperate.
A documentary film about surfing in Unstad North of the Sun has been created by Jorn Ranum. Three surfers: Inge Wegge, Jorn Ranum, and Heikki Puussa show how they survive the winter and enjoy surfing north of the Arctic Circle. Here is the trailer of the movie North of the Sun:
If you are interested in visiting Unstad or surfing in Lapland, Unstad Arctic Surf has more information, and they also organize surfing trips and courses.
This is how lovely Lofoten is in summer – view the on-the-road video: