Most people think of surfing as a sport for the sun-drenched shores of Southern California, Hawaii or Australia—places where tanned surfer boys and girls can ride waves in paradise.
While there’s a kernel of truth to that stereotype, surfing has come a long way since the days of the Beach Boys and Gidget. It’s truly a worldwide phenomenon, showing up in such diverse places as India and Morocco.
In addition, surfing is so simple in concept—board, meet wave—that there’s no reason for it to be exclusively a warm-weather, saltwater activity. Waves, not sunshine, are the currency of surfing; and if those waves are in the Great Lakes, on a river in Wyoming, or breaking on Iceland’s volcanic shores, so be it.
No matter the location, devoted surfers will find a way to shred. A tiny Alaskan fishing village can become the “Far North Shore” if the waves are right and word gets out, and an underwater seamount a hundred miles from land can be a place where the surfing elite flocks to ride waves the size of buildings.
A wave doesn’t even need to exist in nature to be a draw. Despite being on the Persian Gulf, Dubai’s state-of-the-art wave park is what puts this glitzy Middle Eastern city on surfers’ radar. Munich’s Eisbach, a man-made river, wasn’t even designed with surfing in mind, but surfers found it, nevertheless.
If surfers know about an amazing point break or a recurring tidal wave, chances are someone has ridden it—and someone else is checking the swell forecast at this very moment.