woman surfing a wave

Where are the best surf spots to chase the waves in canada - part 1

When it comes to the phrase "surf spot," 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?

Read on for details on Canada's best surf spots, from the most famous to the local hidden gems. Break out the board shorts and start preparing your next surf adventure!

What are the most famous surf spots in canada?

1. Cox bay, tofino, vancouver island

Tofino may be Canada's surf capital; it is rightly famous among Canadians and surfers worldwide for its spectacular surf beaches, which span kilometers of rainforested coastline: think mist, cedars, snow-capped mountains, and bald eagles. Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino has been a popular surf destination since the 1970s for surf tourists and expert competitors alike. The area features multiple popular surf beaches, meaning there's something for everyone!

Cox Bay is arguably the most popular surf spot in Tofino, and therefore Canada. It features three different breaks ("The Corner," "The Middle," and "Lando's"). The Middle offers the most opportunity for surfing, as it features breaks in almost any tide and season. Lando's is more popular for northwest waves, and The Corner can offer bigger southern swells; however, riptides in The Corner make this area more appropriate for expert surfers. Cox Bay is Tofino's most popular, and busiest, surf spot, so locals recommend fall and winter surfing to avoid crowds.

- Difficulty: Beginner to Expert Surfers
- Driving time: 5 hr 15 min from Vancouver (including a ferry); 4 hr 15 min from Victoria (on Vancouver Island)

women walking on the beach with a surf board

2. Long beach, tofino, vancouver island

Technically a series of beaches, Long Beach features a right-hand point break that works best with southeast winds from May to October. Since Long Beach is a crescent-shaped curve on the west side of the island, it is slightly more protected from northeast winds in the summer, but conditions can be variable in the winter. The area around Long Beach is home to numerous surf shops and surf schools, making it a popular destination for those new to surfing. However, the two central rock features, Incinerator Rock and Lovekin Rock, can attract rip-tides. For this reason, beginners at Long Beach are recommended to start their surf session with a lesson at one of the nearby schools in order to become familiar with these features and the area's currents. Starting with a school also offers the opportunity to meet locals, find secret surf areas, and learn where the best après-surf spots are.

- Difficulty: Beginner to Expert Surfers
- Driving time: 5 hr 15 min from Vancouver (including a ferry); 4 hr 15 min from Victoria (on Vancouver Island)

3. 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

man pulling of a car his boarding surf

4. Sturgeon falls, whiteshell provincial park, manitoba

You may not have expected to find a surf spot from Manitoba on this list, but Sturgeon Falls is quickly becoming known as one of Canada's most popular surf destinations. The falls feature 15 breaks and holes; you may have a long paddle to get out, as the current can be strong depending on water level and flow strength, but once you're there, the options seem endless. For those just starting out, you may want to pick the breaks closer to the river banks. Once you're feeling comfortable, head towards the middle of the river to catch the faster (and colder) snow-melt currents. River surfing may lack some of the stereotypical glamour of ocean surfing, but Sturgeon Falls is a unicorn of a surf destination: it's a remote location (tucked away in the Whiteshell Provincial Park), which is still a manageable drive from a major city; it's a river-mouth break, which is more stable than sand breaks and more forgiving than reef breaks; and the locals claim that river surfing is less turf-oriented and more inviting to visitors than ocean surfing. Is there any better way to spend a cold, grey day in Winnipeg than surfing glassy 1-3 m swells? Just bring a thick wetsuit!

- Difficulty: Beginner to Expert Surfers
- Driving time: 1 h 40 min from Winnipeg

What are the best beginner surf spots?

teenager surfing a wave

5. Chesterman beach, tofino, vancouver island

Technically split into North and South Chesterman, the north beach is more protected than the popular (and often crowded) Cox Bay, making it a better option for those still getting used to their wetsuits and duck dives. Due to this level of protection, the summer months can be flat, but chilly fall and winter sessions are rewarded by more consistent swells. Chesterman's après-surf campfires and laid-back vibes also help to get rid of the post-session chill. In addition to quieter waves compared to other areas in Tofino, Chesterman also tends to feature smaller crowds, making it a perfect spot to settle in and learn the ropes.

 - Difficulty: Beginner to Expert Surfers
- Driving time: 5 hr 15 min from Vancouver (including a ferry); 4 hr 15 min from Victoria (on Vancouver Island)

6. 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

woman walking off the water with her surf board

7. 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

girl by the water with her surf board
girl by the water with her surf board

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