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Surfing Canada: 17 Incredible surf spots from coast-to-coast

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Roberto Teixeira Mar 21, 2018 3:06 pm 1,570

Canada is hardly the first place that comes to mind when planning your next big surf trip.

But don’t book that international flight just yet. The Great White North has some amazing surf spots with world-class waves for experts and beginners alike.

Yeah, okay, surfing in the cold waters of Canada might not be for everyone, but those courageous enough to brave those waters can find some pretty sweet surf spots. Some of them are known across the world, some of them are well hidden, and some – if you are bold enough, know how to use a map, and read swell forecasts – are just waiting to be found.

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One might think that only in coastal Canada you can find good waves, but that’s not the case at all. There are plenty of surf spots in even the central provinces; you just need to know where to look!

Throw on some nice beach-y tunes while you scroll down the page to plan your next surf adventure for this summer.

Keep in mind that this is Canada, so even in the summer it’s a good idea to pack a warm wetsuit.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. It is strongly advised that you have a good amount of surfing experience before trying any of the locations. Information on how to prepare for your surf trip and stay safe while catching waves is available from AdventureSmart. Always surf with one or more buddies. Stay warm and safe out there.

British Columbia

North Vancouver Island

The city of Tofino, located on the northwest side of Vancouver Island, is probably one of the most popular surf towns in Canada. With a vivid surf community, Tofino has numerous places to rent everything from surfboards to gloves, to boots. It is also home for surf schools and surf camps. People come from all over the world to visit the famous shores of the Pacific Northwest.

Tofino is so cool, and features world-class tubes. Professional Hawaiian surfer Jamie O’Brien dedicated one full episode of his film series to the area – dubbed ‘Oh, Canada’ – and caught some nice, frosty waves.

The best time to head to Tofino is probably in the winter and early spring. It is the least crowded season, but also the coldest. Depending on the beach, the waves can reach above head heights. Good waves can be found in Long Beach, North and South Chesterman, but the best bet is at Cox Bay.

Average water temperature: 10 to 15°C in the summer / 5 to 10°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm. Hoodies, boots, and gloves in winter.

South Vancouver Island

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Not as famous – or consistent – as Tofino, the southwest side of the island can offersome pretty fun waves. When Mother Nature brings in some storms, it’s easy to find some challenging swells. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen too often.

In the best days, the river mouth surf spot at Jordan River can offer some long wrapping rights, speedy walls, and even some barrel sections over the sand bottom. It can be somewhat inconsistent, but when it’s on, you better prepare yourself for some paddle work.

If you travel north along Highway 14, you will find Sombrio Beach, located approximately 96 kilometres west of Victoria. Especially in the winter, it can deliver world-class surfing. Only a 15-minute hike from the parking lot at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, Sombrio Beach can offer a more private surfing experience, as it is less crowded than Jordan River.

Continuing on Highway 14, you will find yourself in Port Renfrew, a small tourist town. Early spring and winter will offer the best surfing options in the region, with eight different locations to choose from. The most famous spots to catch some waves are located in Port Renfrew’s two river mouths, the San Juan and Gordon Rivers.

The best swells for the region is west and northwest.

Average water temperature: 10 to 15°C in the summer / 5 to 10°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm. Hoodies, boots, and gloves in winter.

Haida Gwaii

If you are really up to an epic cold-water surfing adventure, you might want to head up to Haida Gwaii. It is not an easy to get to destination, but once you reach the beautiful island, you won’t regret it. Getting there is only possible by water or air. You can catch daily direct flights from Vancouver or Prince Rupert. By water, BC Ferries offer year-round sailing from Prince Rupert, a trip that takes seven hours and will offer some amazing sightseeing.

This area offers numerous surfing spots to choose from. The most popular area is at North Beach in Masset, where it’s easy to find surfing gear for rent. Near Tlell, places like East Beach and Rennell Sound can offer good surfing as well. On the south part of the Island, Bonanza Beach is another option for adventurous surfers. Haida Gwaii is a real hidden gem, with its uncrowded line-ups, and white-sand beaches.

Average water temperature: 8 to 12°C in the summer / 5 to 8°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm. Hoodies, boots, and gloves needed for most of the year.

Alberta

Bow River, Calgary

Yes, you can surf in landlocked Alberta because river surfing is a thing! The scene is growing in Calgary as the 10th Street Bow River surfing spot is getting more popular every year. The standing wave below the bridge offers good surfing, especially for beginners, as you don’t need to paddle out. The wave is always there, year round, and you can surf it for as long as you can stay on the board.

Average water temperature: 12 to 21°C in the summer / 3 to 6°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm. Winter surfing is not recommended

Kananaskis River

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Another place you can do river surfing in Alberta is on the Kananaskis River, on the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. There are three spots to catch some waves downstream. The first one, called Green Tongue, is located near Canoe Meadows Campground in Bow Valley Provincial Park, and is a good spot for beginners.

Within a 10-minute walk upstream from the Tongue there is a larger river wave called Santa Clause, which is better suited for intermediate to expert surfers. Between the two, this is the best wave on the river.

The Canadian group called Surf Anywhere – a company that builds river waves – designed and built a wave dubbed as The Mountain. For experts only, the fast, steep and glassy wave can hide rocks and is dangerous for beginners without river knowledge.

The size of river wave depends on water level, capacity, and outflow. For more information about river surfing in Alberta, wave report, and forecasts, as well as tips on how to begin your river surfing adventure, check out Alberta River Surfing Association.

Average water temperature: 12 to 21° C in the summer / 3 to 6° C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm. Winter surfing not recommended

Saskatchewan

Lake Diefenbaker

You read that right. You actually can surf in Saskatchewan – more precisely at Lake Diefenbaker. Waves at the lake are only possible near SaskPower station at Gardiner Dam, with the size and power of the waves depending on the dam’s output for the day. It does not happen that often, but if you are lucky enough, you can surf a fast and tall wave here.

Average water temperature: 5°C year round
Recommended wetsuit: 4/3 mm to 6/5 mm.

Manitoba

Sturgeon Falls

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Located at Whiteshell Provincial Park, about 130 kilometres east of Winnipeg, Sturgeon Falls is an incredible place to surf, but it is also quite difficult to access. The actual surf spot can be found where the Nutimik Lake encounters the Whiteshell river, about 1.5 kilometres from the boat launch at Nitimik campground. To reach the epic wave, a very long paddle – or quicker boat ride – is required.

The size of the waves at Sturgeon Falls depends on the volume of water passing through, and the trip there is worth it starting at 35,000 to 40,000 cfs (cubic feet per second). The best conditions for a top rated surfing is anything between 60,000 to 90,000 cfs. When it’s on, Sturgeon falls provides more than 15 surfable green-glass faced waves. One particular wave, called Big Mouth, surges and breaks approximately every 20 seconds, and in best conditions can reach heights of more than two meters and provide barrel sections.

Surfing here is only possible in the late spring and summer.

Average water temperature: 11.5 to 16°C during the summer. Ice formation in winter
Recommended wetsuit: 5 mm to summer wetsuits

Ontario 

Lake Huron

Yeah! You can surf the Great Lakes. One of the best places to surf in Ontario is at the Kincardine Beach Station, as it is considered the surf spot of the province. It keeps getting more popular, especially after competitions were held there.

You may be asking: how can you surf on a lake? Well, with the combination of deep waters, bottom formation, and strong winds, lake surfing can provide some awesome waves. Not as consistent as an ocean wave, though, because the swell can come in and out in just a few hours, or hang on for an entire day. But if you time winds with swell right – southwest to north swells and southeast winds here – you are going to have an amazing surf. During the peak seasons, waves can reach up to three meters (10 feet).

An awesome feature of Kincardine Beach Station is the hot showers and change rooms. Other, less crowded beaches for surfing along the shores of Lake Huron include Inverhuron, Wasaga Beach, Sauble Beach, Canatara Beach, and more.

Average water temperature: 16 to 20°C in the summer / 2 to 9°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 2 mm to 7 mm. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

Lake Ontario

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Located quite close to Toronto’s city centre, Lang’s Left is a paradise. When it’s on, it can even be seen when flying into the city. The waves here start working with east or northeast winds, from 20 to 25 knots, and become world-class at anything above 30 knots.

It can provide nice long wrapping walls, with really fast sections. This is a point-break wave, recommended for more experienced surfers, with a mix of sand and rock bottom. The spot is located a 30-minute walk from the parking spot at Tommy Thompson Park.

Other awesome surf spots close to Toronto along Lake Ontario include Scarborough Bluffs (Scarborough), Woodbine Beach, Ashbridge’s Bay, Fifty Point (Hamilton), The Bridge (Hamilton), Rouge Park Beach (Pickering), Frenchman’s Bay (Pickering), Presqu’ile Point (Presqu’ile Provincial Park), Sand Banks Provincial Park (Prince Edward County), and much more. Be polite, ask around, and you will find even more surf spots on the lake.

Average water temperature: 18 to 24°C in the summer / 2 to 6°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: Board shorts to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

Lake Erie 

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One of the most consistent waves at Lake Erie can be found at Erie Beach, which is close to Blenheim. The beach break is at it’s best with north and northeast winds, with ideal wave direction from the southwest. It can offer both left and right hand walls.

The city of Port Colborne offers more than one quality surfing spot, including Nickel Beach. Good waves can also be found at Long Point, Port Bruce, Port Stanley, and more.

You can find lake surfing reports – and even live webcams – with the Great Lakes Surf Radar. Before heading out to lake surfing, is always a good idea to chat with locals to see where the best (and safest) spot is that day.

Average water temperature: 18 to 24°C in the summer / 2 to °C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: Board shorts to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

Quebec

Montreal

River surfing in Quebec? Yes!

Montreal has a few surf spots for you to play around at, and the St. Lawrence river offers many different waves.

The most popular can be found at Habitat 67. Located right behind the namesake building – it’s that one with cement building blocks stacked up – it has easy access. The tall and fast waves can provide for a great day of surfing. This wave is recommended for advanced surfers.

West of the Lachine Rapids is another surfing spot. Vague à Guy is a wave that forms close to the riverbank. You can find this spot on LaSalle Boulevard, just east of Raymond Street. It is a friendly wave that can offer fun for those of all skill levels.

There are a few surf shops around Montreal. Be polite, talk to locals, and you might end up scoring some new spots to surf in the city.

River surfing depends on water flow and enough current to support a wave face. Before heading out, it’s always better to check the water flow report.

Average water temperature: 12 to 25°C In the summer / 2 to 8°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: Board shorts to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

Nova Scotia

Halifax Region

Known as the Canada Oceans Playground, Nova Scotia has some of the best waves in the country. The east coast is always getting hammered with big swells, especially in the winter. It offers year-round surfing conditions, but it really cracks in the winter. There are many popular spots around the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Probably one of the best for beginners is Lawrencetown Beach ­– located just 30 kilometres outside of Halifax – as it can offer some decent waves. Works best with south, southeast, and east swells. During winter, it can form a left wave with barrel potential.

More consistent than L-Town, and about a 25 minutes drive down the road, is Martinique Beach. Works really well before and after a big swell, but most times it gives regular to small sized waves. Cow Bay is another place to find good waves year-round in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Hurricane is a wave that is notoriously hard to find. Be polite, make some local friends, and ask around. When it’s breaking, it’s epic. It is a truly hidden gem.

Average water temperature: 8 to 16°C in the summer / 2 to 6°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 3 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

South Nova Scotia

With winter swells, Summerville can provide some really nice waves. It’s long, white sand beach offers good breaks at both ends, with the south end’s river mouth regularly producing the best walls. Summerville has a consistent surf that can work at any time of the year. The ideal swell here is from southeast.

White Point Beach has a fairly consistent break, and works best on southeast swells. It can offer both lefts and rights. Further south is another surf spot called Western Head.

There are numerous amazing surf spots in Nova Scotia. Don’t be shy, make some local friends, and go explore some new waves.

Average water temperature: 8 to 16°C in the summer / 2 to 6°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 3 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves a must in winter

Cape Breton Island

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Point Michaud is probably the most popular surf spot on the island. The three kilometre sandy shoreline can be surfed during all seasons. Point Michaud is home of the Annual Point Michaud Surf Classic Competition.

It is easy to find surf gear for rent nearby. The beach break provides good lefts and rights, with the best swell coming from the east. As with anywhere on the island, it’s very unlikely to get crowded, even when it’s on.

Surfing in Kennington Cove means, to say the very least, facing cold water and paddling through dangerous rips. Recommended only for expert surfers, it is a consistent surf spot and it really gets on with an eastern swell.

Head out to Ingonish Beach in Cape Breton Island to find yourself in an inconsistent exposed beach break. However, if you get there with an ideal swell direction (east) and off-shore winds, you might be in for a treat.

Average water temperature: 9 to 15°C in the summer / below zero to 5°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves in the winter

Prince Edward Island

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Because it’s more protected than the exposed Nova Scotia, surfing in PEI can be difficult and inconsistent due to weak swells most of the year. However, surf is possible in PEI, especially when there are tropical storms coming from the north.

There are reports of waves being ridden on the north shore between North Rustico and Cavandish Beach. With strong northeast winds, good sets of waves can be seen in front of the Bothwell Haven cottages.

If you happen to be in Prince Edward Island at some point, you actually can catch some waves and have a good time with a longboard or a stand up paddle board. If you keep an eye on the conditions, and time the wind and groundswells right, you will definitely score some fun waves. Prince Edward Island is one of those places where local know-how can pay off and help you find those secret spots.

The best season to surf in PEI, according to local reports, is in the spring and at the end of summer.

Average water temperature: 10 to 18°C in the summer / below zero to 5°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves in the winter

New Brunswick

The beach Banc de Pabos, near Petit-Pabos, has an easy access and a friendly wave. The waves there break both to the right and left, letting goofy and regular surfers enjoy its walls. The spot works best on south, southeast, and southwest swells. It has zero crowds.

Dennis Beach can offer some rare waves from time to time. The waves will appear with a perfect combination of southern wind and swell directions. It’s rare, but it works!

Bayshore Beach, in Saint John, provides an awesome left hand wave when it’s working. Another place to find surfing conditions in New Brunswick is in Mispec Beach.

Average water temperature: 9 to 15°C in the summer / below zero to 5°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves year round

Newfoundland

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Because of sea temperatures and difficult access, surfing in Newfoundland is not all that common. However, the Maritime province offers world-class waves for those brave enough to face the cold, icy waters.

It may be hard to find information about surf spots here, but you can score good waves all over the island. Catch a flight to St. John’s, and go explore. Places like Portugal Cove South, New Melbourne, and Grates Cove are all known to provide good surfing.

Because it is a remote location, you’ll need to try to get in touch with local surfers and surf shops before heading out to the water.

Average water temperature: 6 to 12°C in the summer / below zero to 5°C in the winter
Recommended wetsuit: 4 mm to 7 mm wetsuits. Hoodies, boots, and gloves year round

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Roberto Teixeira
Brazilian living in Vancouver, addicted to motorcycles and anything engine-related. Miss surfing in boardshorts.

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