Land Of Fjords And Vikings
Words and photos: Yazzy
Where: The western end of the Scandinavian Peninsula, above Denmark and west of Sweden.
What: The Kingdom of Norway has more than 15,000 miles of coastline, boasting an incredible amount of potential for surfing discovery. It is also the land of the midnight sun, and certain areas of Norway benefit from 24 hours of daylight during the spring and summer months. That means surfing around the clock on those magic days and never missing the peak of a swell, which can often occur at night. The downside? Winter can be dark and cold for months on end.
When: From February to November. You could surf in Norway anytime of the year, but lack of light in winter, especially in the Northern region, cuts your surfing window down to a few hours a day.
Why: Norway is one of the ever growing “cold water” surf destinations that are more and more appealing to people thanks to advances in wetsuit technology, consistent swell, amazing scenery, pristine and untouched beauty, and a stable social system. The women also happen to be very beautiful, too.
How: First, buy a ticket to Oslo. SAS Airlines is a good surfer-friendly choice and seldom charges for surfboards once in Norway. The country is full of airports even in isolated places, so flying is definitely the way to go. A great area to start exploring is near Stavanger. Stavanger is Norway’s oil capital and was Europe’s capital of culture in 2008. It’s a decent sized coastal town full of cobblestone streets, museums, cafes, nightclubs, and waves. Only a short drive from Stavanger are a dozen or more different setups from pointbreaks to beachbreaks, and even some heavier reefs.
If you really want to get lost, then you can head north, where Wideroe Airlines flies right up to the Russian border. There are tons of setups and options and local surfers are few and far between.
Places To Stay: Accommodations in Stavanger are abundant, but can be pricey. There are options from camping at Borestranda beach (which has a good beachbreak and is close to some nearby pointbreaks) to staying in a luxury hotel in Stavanger. Many of the hotels are booked up in the summer, but prices and availability can be lower in the off-season.
Outside of Stavanger, the coastal areas are full of Rorbus, which are traditional fishing cabins that have been converted to accommodate visitors. Many of them are rustic yet cozy and include everything from their own kitchen to Internet.
Places To Eat: While food in Norway is delicious, it can also be pricey for the North American traveler. Coffee can range from $5 a cup in a gas station up to $10 at a coffee shop. A burger plate can easily be $20. Stavanger is a fishing capital and you can find fresh shrimp, which can be purchased on the docks, as well as other amazing seafood. Make sure you try the Bacalao, it’s a traditional meal made with dried cod that has been hanging outdoors for two months. It sounds awful but actually tastes great. Stay away from Kvalbif, as it is whale meat.
Babes And Dudes: Legends about Vikings that once ruled Norway are true. Apparently, 1,000 years ago they went pillaging and pilfering villages in other countries and brought back with them the most beautiful women they could find. After a thousand years of that, the gene pool in Norway is extremely refined. If the waves suck, at least you can run into your soul mate.
The nightlife in Stavanger is also very fun. On weekends, the entire town gets lost in a groggy frenzy of twelve-dollar beers. That’s right, twelve bucks. So if you plan on buying rounds, be prepared to pay the price.
Crowd Factor: While the surfing population in Norway has been minimal for years, the growth of surf shops and surf camps in recent times has contributed to a spike in popularity. This can result in some crowds at some of the most popular breaks, especially in the summer and fall. It’s a good idea to introduce yourself to local surfers, who are generally welcoming to distant travelers. Exploring a bit past the obvious spots, it’s possible to surf entirely alone. If you chose to go north, you will most like run into a few surfers here and there and most of them are eager to share their waves with new faces.
Stuff To Bring: Leave the step-ups and semi guns at home and bring something for playful shoulder high to overhead waves. However, you will need rubber, though the water is not as cold as say New Jersey in winter, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Water can range from 40 in spring to 65 in the summer. If you plan on going in the spring, you will need a hooded 5/4/3 or a good 4/3 if you are brave, some 5mm or 7mm boots (preferably without the split toe) and 5mm gloves. Bring an extra pair of boots in case you rip or wear a pair out.
If The Surf Is Flat: Norway boasts an incredible array of activities if the surf is flat. Norwegian people are very active and usually love to ski, snowboard, hike, climb, and just about everything else that involves the outdoors.
Helpful Web Sites: Check visitnorway.com (official Norway tourism board Web site), regionstavanger.com (official Stavanger area Web site), flysas.com (Scandinavian Airlines), wideroe.no (domestic airline), and srfsnosk8.no (local surf/snow shop in Stavanger).