Chris Burkard

People have a tendency to overlook Canada as a surfing location. It’s sometimes hard to associate good surf with cold water, some people scratch their head at that thought. But with wetsuit technology progressing faster than ever, the boundaries for cold water surfing are being pushed further by the day. If you’ve got an itch for surf, the East and West coast both have the ability to scratch it, hard. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even give the Great Lakes a try. So grab a wetsuit, a board, and come check out some of Canada’s best surf locations.

Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC

This is the ‘Byron Bay’ of Canada, filled with Surf shops and schools, along with miles of beach. The surf in this area is easily some of the best in Canada. Because of this, Tofino has been gaining recognition in the global surf community. O’Neill is hosting Canada’s first professional surfing competition here between October 25 and October 31, 2009. The Cold Water Classic Tofino is the fourth part of a five-part World Qualifying Series that are sponsored by O’Neill. This event is expected to bring in more than 100 pro surfers competing for $145, 00 U.S. If you’re in the area around then, you should definitely check it out!
Tofino and the surrounding area is extremely beautiful, and for those Surf Tourists, this is definitely a stop you shouldn’t miss. The town has a cool vibe to it, there are plenty of backpackers and free-spirits. Plenty to see, even more to do. Easily one of the best surf town’s in Canada, and a very popular destination for surfers alike. Long beach, the most popular surf spot for Tofinites, is just south of Tofino. Long Beach is a provincial park, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding parking. Easily one of Canada’s best surf locations.

Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia

25 minutes south of Halifax is a unique small town, which when first going through doesn’t seem much more different than the last few. However, once you get to the waters edge, you’ll see the difference. This great little community is full of surfers, and taking one look out into the ocean, you can see why. The East coast has a habit of getting the best waves at night, so if you can’t sleep, wander down to the beach, you might be lucky enough to see a few redeye surfers out there, taking advantage of a quiet night out on some of the Maritimes best Surfing.

Lawrencetown Beach is a south-facing stretch of sand that unfurls for approximately 1.5 km (1 mile). The beach is a provincial park and is one of the first beaches in the province to be supervised by the Nova Scotia Lifeguarding Service. The beach hosts not only some amazing surfing, there is also some great mountain biking and hiking nearby.

Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia

Located inside Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish Beach is a remote and well hidden beach many surfers call their own. The breaks aren’t quite as consistent as Lawrencetown, but during winter and particularly hurricanes this area can get crazy quick. It’s a very nice, scenic beach, with miles of sand. A great place to learn to surf, as it’s rarely all that crowded and swells tend to keep below 7 feet.

Ingonish Beach provides a great view of the Highlands of Nova Scotia, with plenty to do, including mountain biking, hiking, golfing, cross country ski, and yearly Ceilidhs and other traditional Cape Breton entertainment. Well worth the drive.

Kincardine, Ontario

Found in the southern part of Ontario, Kincardine has a great beach that can surprisingly keep up with some of Canada’s coastal surf spots. Keep in mind, the weather plays a huge part in the swell size and breaks here, but plan it out and you can find yourself with some solid 10 ft waves.
Make it down to the beach, and you’ll see the massive pier going into the lake. Take a graceful jump off it, and should the weather be on your side, you’ll be surfing before you know it. It may not be one of the best surf spots in Canada, but it’s unique enough that I thought it deserved being on this list. If you’re an avid surfer, you can score some good bragging points for saying you surfed in the Great Lakes.

Habitat 67, Montreal, Quebec

Habitat 67 is the name of Canada’s very own standing wave. Found in Lachine Rapids, in Montreal, Quebec. It’s become a popular stop for whitewater kayakers and river surfers. Named after the unique building complex located adjacent to the waves. There are two schools out here that’ll teach you how to ride the standing wave. Imagine Surfboards has taught 3,500 students since 2005, and KSF, another Montreal River-surfing school, has had 1, 500 students a year since 2003.

The waves are created by the fast moving water of the rapids hitting some underwater boulders, which produces waves as high as two metres. There are a few other standing waves upriver as well, including another one name Big Joe. Standing Waves are the perfect way to feel comfortable on your board. Rather than a short stint of being up on your board, you can be riding these waves for 10, 20, 30 minutes if nobody else is waiting. Even if you don’t plan on jumping in, it’s definitely worth stopping to check out.

Lake Superior, Ontario

As coastal areas are becoming more and more “discovered”, many surfers have gone to great lengths to find a spot they can call their own. Some of these surfers have turned to the Great Lakes, and surprisingly enough, they’ve been finding some.

The North Shore of Lake Superior offers a good amount of surf. Weather determines the quality of these waves, but despite being very reliant on the weather, surf associations have begun popping up around the area. The Superior Surf Club displays beautifully what the Great Lakes can offer curious surfers. On average there is about 10 surfable days per month, and of those, 2 days will be of good quality. Waves here can reach 10 to 12 feet in height. However, they can get a lot bigger than that during the throes of a raging storm. The most popular places to surf in Lake Superior are Lester River, Stoney Point, and Park Point. They have the most consistent amount of surf. There are no rentals here though, so you’ve got to bring your own surfboard and hope for the best.

For those looking for a unique experience, Canada offers some great surf locations for novices and pros. It’s just a matter of hunting them down. There are countless other surf locations in Canada, you just have to keep your ear to the ground as surfing in Canada isn’t nearly as popular as say hockey, or even curling. Hopefully this list can get you started for a potential great time. Remember, waves come year round, it’s just a matter of finding the guts to dive in, no matter how cold it might be.