The Frozen North

Team rider Andrew Douglas is just about to set off on his next adventure to Jeffreys Bay South Africa, here is his account from his last trip to explore the hidden pointbreaks of Iceland....

After checking the forecast, a last minute flight was booked. Great waves with light winds where heading to Iceland and before I knew it, I had packed all the neoprene I could find and was heading to the airport. I found the place I needed to check in and stood in the queue with my boards by my side. I received a few curious looks from other travellers, possibly wondering if I had gone to the wrong desk for warmer climates.  Once checked in and boarded, the flight arrived into Keflavik. The weather was minus three with snow forecast for the rest of the evening.

After collecting my boards and grabbing the cheapest (expensive) hire car I could find, the long drive up north began. A few supplies where brought from an Icelandic supermarket and I enjoyed some of the most expensive ham sandwiches money could buy.  Once out of Reykjavik the roads became very quiet. The winter studded tires where handling the snow covered iced roads and I was making some distance on the never ending route one, that runs round the entire country. The plan was to keep driving but several stops where made to admire the northern lights, which decided to join me on my travels. Around 10pm, having made a large part of the drive, I pulled up at a guesthouse. Exhausted from the long day of travel, I got some sleep after enjoying a can of local beer as the lights still danced over the night sky. 

My alarm woke me up at 7am, so I could get back on the road. First light was around 9am and the plan was to make it to the point break north of Akureyri, as the sun was rising. Two more hours of driving and I was now heading up the other side of the fjord. Winds where light and I was hoping great waves would fall upon me once I  drove out the tunnel and onto the break. I had seen many pictures and videos from traveling surfers before me and was hoping my luck would be in. Driving out of the tunnel I  could see lines marching into the fjord. A couple more minutes and I was parked up over looking perfect waves with no one out.  

The temperature outside was minus six and getting changed into my wet suit was a pretty painful experience. I manically scrambled into my wet suit, boots and gloves before I lost the feeling in my hands. Just as I was ready, I could see two surfers paddling up the point. quickly followed by two others who had come from the small fishing town near the break. I paddled out with them and within minutes was catching my first wave down the point with snow capped mountains either side. Two of the guys surfing where traveling pro surfers from Australia. The other two where Icelandic surfers from the capital, who had made there way up north for the weekend. Waves where plentiful and the five of us where taking turns enjoying the waves the frozen north was delivering.

After five hours of surfing in the freezing cold, exhaustion finally got the better of me. It was time to find accommodation, grab some food and get some rest. I booked into a guesthouse down the road and enjoyed one of the most expensive microwavable pizzas money could buy. After five hours in the sea, the pizza was incredible and an early night was had soon after. One of the most memorable days of surfing I have ever had, not just for the wave quality or the uncrowded lineup. Iceland has some incredible scenery that blows you away with its natural beauty.  

The next day the swell had dropped off. A long drive around nearby fjords resulted in surfing on a deserted beach break. To get to the beach involved parking near a farmers house and hiking over a frozen river. It was a small mission to get there but clean waves and an empty line up made the effort worth while. Surfing beaches which rarely see people, let alone surfers was a unique and fun experience. The forecast showed swell hitting the south coast, so the next day was spent making the long drive back to the capital. Some budget accommodation was found and the evening was spent enjoying one of Iceland's many geothermal swimming pools. The next two days where spent surfing near the Reykjanes peninsular. A nice point break provided some fun waves with temperatures hovering around freezing. 

After that i drove down towards Vik, the most southerly park of Iceland in search of more waves. A fun beach break hosted some nice offshore waves with light winds and not a cloud in the sky. I stayed in Vik for two days and surfed great waves without another surfer in sight. Snow capped mountains in the background and a curious seal, which kept popping up to say hello. 

The last day of my trip had soon crept up on me. I found myself driving back to the airport with a heavily dented wallet and a sense that something special had happened that week. I had headed into the wilderness and found great waves in the process. A surfer can travel the world to many destinations which cater for surfing but Iceland has something different to offer. In a country with a similar size to England, it has a surfing community of around 25 people. Finding empty waves is not hard to do but trying to avoid gale force winds, snow storms and closed winter roads can be tricky. For anyone who takes a leap into the unknown, the possibility of world class waves with empty line ups awaits. A trip i will always remember for the adventure, as well as the waves.'

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