woman surfing a wave

The best surf spots on Canada's East Coast

When it comes to surfing, most people usually think of the sparkling waves of Malibu, California and the playas and puertos of Central America. But if you're in Canada, you don't need your passport to find world-class tubes. So, where are the most famous surf spots closer to home? We've rounded up some of the best places on the East Coast to catch some waves.

Read on for details on Canada's best surf spots on the East Coast, from the most famous locations to the local hidden gems.
Time to break out the board shorts (or wetsuit!) and start preparing your next surf adventure!

woman walking off the water with her surf board

Saint Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec

Surfing in Quebec? Absolutely! From downtown Montreal, you can find waves near you quickly and easily. The Saint Lawrence River in Montreal is one of the first places where urban river surfing really caught its wave. One of the most popular breaks is "Guy's Wave" (La Vague à Guy); with a little bit of navigational skill, it is possible to ride the wave endlessly. For this reason, "Guy's Wave" is also known as "The Eternal Wave," and it's a perfect spot for beginners to work on their board-handling skills. For a wilder ride, head north to Habitat 67 (named for the building it's located behind), which features bigger and faster swells. Since the river runs right through the city centre, surfing the St. Lawrence River is one of the cheapest surf spots available; rather than a drive out to the coast or the provincial park, you can just pop your board onto a city bus or the metro.

- Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate surfers
- Driving Time: n/a; located in downtown Montreal

The best surf spots in Canada: Part 1 (East Coast)

Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia

Once upon a time, Lawrencetown Beach was a hidden secret among a few intrepid cold-water surfers, but it now attracts amateurs and experts from around the world, including other surfing hotspots like California and British Columbia. Featuring a beach break as well as two point breaks along 1.7 km of east-coast coastline, Lawrencetown Beach offers waves for everyone. The southern-facing beach also means that it is consistently surfable; you should check the surf report before heading out (and keep an eye on hurricane and nor'easter season!), but Lawrencetown Beach attracts beginners and die-hards, locals and tourists, for good reason: despite its chill factor, it serves up consistent swells year-round, all within a short drive from Halifax. An added benefit is that Lawrencetown Beach is only a short 25-minute drive from another famous surf spot in Nova Scotia, Cow Bay. Try out the swells at one before heading over to the other for a full-on day of some of Canada's best surfing.

- Difficulty: Beginner to Expert surfers
- Driving time: 25 min from Halifax

The best surf spots in Canada: Part 1 (East Coast)

Martinique Beach, Nova Scotia

Stretching 5 km into the Atlantic, Martinique Beach is a unique gem among east-coast Canadian surf spots. It is rightfully considered one of the best places to catch a wave in Canada, as its length and southern exposure make it suitable to surf swells from nearly any angle. Even smaller 0.5-1 m waves can offer a long, sustained marathon ride down the beach. It's also a great surf spot for a group of surfers at varied skill levels; beginners should aim to start at the beginning of the beach before the waves develop more strength. Intermediate and advanced surfers should head to the middle of the beach, where wind and tide can produce more impressive swells. On top of all this good news about consistent and lengthy waves, the best part of all is that the sheer length of the beach means over-crowding is rarely a problem at Martinique Beach, even though it's only an hour drive from the city of Halifax. The beach facilities also offer hot showers, making it easy to stay for hours, regardless of the season.

- Difficulty: Beginner to Expert surfers
- Driving Time: 55 min from Halifax

Where do surfers surf?

The vast majority of Canada's famous surf spots became what they are today simply because a small group of surfers found a good break. They kept surfing it, often despite the cold waters, the unknown riptides or obstacles, or the lack of resources like hot showers or local shops. They soon told their friends (who told their friends...), and just like that, surf festivals and championships start popping up and the break gets busy.

This list provides some of Canada's best surf spots, but if you want to discover the next one before the crowds, simply chat with the locals. Be a friendly face at the beach, help to keep the beach clean, practice good surf etiquette, and become a part of the scene. Surfers are famously protective of their favourite surf spots, but surfing is also a terrific community of like-minded individuals keen to find clean breaks and big barrels. So hop in the water, hang around, share your firepit, and soon you'll have your own local break to keep secret!

How do I find the best surf spot for me?

Canada features many surf beaches offering a variety of attractions and features. Depending on if you want to find some nearby waves, go for a weekend adventure, or fly/ferry/boat to a bucket-list destination, you can quickly find a surf spot appropriate for your skill level by doing a little bit of research in advance.

Maybe you're looking for an uncrowded surf spot? Or maybe you want the buzz of people and a city to explore after your session? Canada's surfing destinations offer something for everyone.

Once you have an idea of where you want to go for your next surf adventure, you can also contact the many surf shops and surf schools available. They offer lessons and local advice to go with rental boards, wetsuits, and a new pair of board shorts.

girl by the water with her surf board


woman swimming with a surf board

The best surf spots on Canada's West Coast

Yes, British Columbia features barrels and swells right at the base of misty rainforests or along kilometers of uncrowded sandy beaches; these breaks are worth planning your next destination surf trip. But don't stop there! There are epic surf spots in other provinces too.

woman surfing the wave

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Surfing with the right board is important if you want to get out there and enjoy the waves, both quickly and safely. You should choose your surfboard based on three criteria: your skill level, body type, and the type of waves you want to surf.

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