Surfing in the Arctic Waters: Surf School in Iceland

Are you an adventure seeker and wondering what would make your adrenaline pumping while in Iceland? Do not waste a minute and join local surfers shredding the arctic waters!

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Dominika Kolomazníková

17. April 2018

Surfing is by far one of the coolest activities you can do in the land of ice and fire. Icelandic landscape makes surfing exotic, even with the lack of sunny beaches and warm water. After all, who would not like to ride crazy arctic waves surrounded by glaciers, volcanoes and lava fields?

Never surfed before? Try it for the first time in Iceland!

After publishing an article on Cold water surfing in Iceland, I got invited to join Surf School with Adventure Vikings to venture into the arctic waters. I am not going to pretend that I was not scared at first. But once I saw a car with surfboards on the roof rack waiting for me, the excitement overcame all my fear. After being picked up at a meeting point in Reykjavik, we started driving towards Thorlákshöfn, a small harbor town located on southern coast of Iceland approximately 30 mi (50 km) from Reykjavik. On the way, we crossed beautiful lava fields and could enjoy the view on the stunning Icelandic South coast.

A white van by the beach.

In Thorlákshöfn we met with the rest of our group and our adventure was about to start. In total we were six excited beginners with a professional guide ready to try the cold Icelandic waters. While the half of our group already had some experience with surfing, the other half had never tried to stand up on a surfboard. Coming from a landlocked country, it is not very hard to guess which half of the group I belonged to. The instructor first taught us some general technique and informed us about the environment and safety. After having put on our wetsuits, hoodies, shoes and gloves, we had the first on-the-beach trial of paddling and jumping on the surfboard. Afterwards, we all joined him into the water and he showed us how to wait for the right wave, paddle and (try to) stand up on the surfboard. 

First time in the water

I have to say that it is definitely not easy, and it requires a lot of effort, to stand up on your surfboard! In the very beginning, I had no technique and I basically did not know what I was supposed to do. It was difficult for me to even stay on my surfboard without being thrown off by a strong wave, not talking about catching the right wave, starting paddling or trying to stand up. When I finally managed to partly stand up, my body was totally exhausted and I could feel that my arms and legs were shaking and could not handle the exertion anymore. 

Three surfers on a big wave, Iceland.

Concerning the temperature, you cannot feel the coldness of the water very well while you are in it. Your wetsuit is thick and hooded, and you are wearing shoes and gloves, so your whole body is entirely protected. On top of that, surfing makes your heart beat faster and the excitement does not allow you to think about the cold.

However, once you leave the water, you very quickly remember that you are still in Iceland. Therefore, it is suggested to take breaks which are not longer than 10 minutes. The worst part comes when you have to take off the wetsuit from your frozen body. It is not fun and it takes much longer than you can possibly imagine. It is very important to bring warm clothes which you can wear after the surfing.

Learn from the best

Adventure Vikings is the only tour company in Iceland providing surf school that is suitable for total beginners. There is even a possibility to have private surf course if you come with at least four of your friends. My general impression on the tour is more than positive. The instructor was very professional but at the same time friendly and relaxed. He put a lot of effort and tried to equally help every single participant to get the best of this surfing day. He was all the time around, assisting us and answering all the questions we had. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone who ever wondered how it is to surf under an arctic sky!

Surfing in Iceland.

Essential information

Price: 18.900 ISK including pick-up and drop-off, guide and all necessary surfing gear

Duration: 5–7 hours including drive from Reykjavik to Thorlákshöfn and back

Rank: Easy, suitable for everyone


-  Be at least  5'1ft (155 cm)

- Be at least 121 lb (50kg)

- Be able to swim

- Not be pregnant

- Minimum age 16

What to bring

Adventure Vikings will provide you with all necessary gear that you need for surfing including surfboard, wetsuit, shoes and gloves. 

However you are expected to bring:

- Swimsuit to wear underneath the wetsuit

- Towel

- Warm clothes to wear prior and after the surfing

- Lunch or snacks

- Camera (you can rent a GoPro Camera by Adventure Vikings)

Surfing boards lying on the beach.

Did you get inspired? Book Surf School with Adventure Vikings here and get ready for a real arctic adventure!

I was invited to this tour by Adventure Vikings. However, this article is entirely based on my own experience and impression.