When you think of Canada, surfing is not the first thing that comes to mind. But the truth is that the Great White North has immaculate surf breaks.
Canada is the second largest country in the world and has the largest coastline in the world with 202,080 kilometers (125566 miles) of shores.
If you're a fan of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), it won't be problem finding an uncrowded body of water for cruising and racing. Canada has roughly 2,000,000 lakes, and that's more than the rest of the world combined.
The world's most educated nation is home to North America's strongest tidal current. The Discovery Passage is a channel between Vancouver Island and Discovery Island with flood speeds of 10 mph (17 km/h).
Canada is a land of extremes. In Newfoundland, the water temperatures get so low that the Atlantic Ocean sometimes freezes, whereas in British Columbia air temperatures can easily reach 110°F (43°C).
It can get really cold in Canada. On February 3, 1947, the country recorded the lowest temperature: -81.4°F (-63°C). But that doesn't mean you can't surf the waves of your life in Canada.
The most popular sports in the country are ice hockey and lacrosse. It is estimated that Canada has around 2,000 surfers, and they all get their share of rides on the west (British Columbia) and east (Nova Scotia) coasts, and on the Great Lakes.
The history of surfing in Canada dates back to the late 1940s when Jim Sadler caught the first waves and kicked off a movement that would accelerate in the 1960s.
The wave-rich region of Tofino played a fundamental role in the development of surfing in the country. The so-called surf capital of Canada is home to a vibrant and active community of cold water wave riders.
Canada also hides a few inland secrets with unusual river waves and stunning tidal bores blooming near gorges and canyons that should definitely be visited and experienced.
If you're visiting Canada and plan to surf, make sure to pack a 6/5/4 mm wetsuit, as well as neoprene gloves, boots, and hoods. Let's paddle out at Canada's best surf spots:
Chesterman Beach, British Columbia
Located in Vancouver Island's Tofino district, Chesterman Beach is a long, sheltered sandy strip that needs bigger swells to break. A perfect option for beginner surfers and surf lessons. It works best with SW/W swells, glassy or NE winds, and with medium to high tides.
Cox Bay Beach, British Columbia
Tofino's main surf spot and one of the most popular breaks in Canada. This long beach break works well in all tides, especially with swell coming from SW/NW, and light E winds. The spot host many national and international competitions and is often crowded.
The Mountain Wave, Alberta
Located in the Kananaskis River, the Mountain Wave is a three-foot, fast and steep, standing man-made river wave. It breaks above a deep shaped bottom and measures five meters in length. The Mountain Wave is adjustable and can be surfed near Calgary.
Sandbanks, Great Lakes
Located in Lake Ontario, Sandbanks is an exposed point break that gets all wind swells available in the region. It works best with NE wind, and SW/W swells.
Kincardine Station Beach, Great Lakes, Ontario
Located in Lake Huron, it is one of the best surf spots in Ontario and hosts many regional competitions. Nevertheless, waves may appear from nothing, and also vanish a couple of hours later. It works best with wind swells coming from W/NW/SW.
Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba
Located 90 minutes from Winnipeg, Sturgeon Falls is multiple peak river wave with options for all experience levels. It offers different wave sizes and flow speeds. Paddling may be hard and dangerous.
Ottawa River, Ottawa
Located near Bate Island, this standing river wave is often frequented by surfers, kayakers, and bodyboarders.
Habitat 67, Montreal, Quebec
Located in the heart of Montreal, it is Canada's most popular river wave. The static wave breaks in front of a residential block planned by the famous architect Moshe Safdie, in 1967. The access is a bit tricky, but the ride is consistent and fun.
Summerville, Nova Scotia
Located near Port Mouton, Summerville is a beach break located near a river mouth. It works best with Atlantic E/NE/SE swells, and winds blowing from NW.
White Point Beach, Nova Scotia
Located in front of a resort with the same name, White Point Beach is one of the busiest surf breaks in the region. The place is idyllic, and the multiple peaks offer a lot of options. It works best with Atlantic E/NE/SE swells, and winds blowing from NW.
Western Head, Nova Scotia
Located near Canada's Liverpool, is a reef break ready to pump long and big left-handers. For perfect conditions, get there when an NE swell meets NE/N winds.
Point Michaud Beach, Nova Scotia
Located at Michaud Cove, this long sandy beach is capable of producing the finest waves in Canada. For pristine surf sessions, get to it with an E/NE/SE swell, and W/NW winds.
Osborne, Nova Scotia
Located at Cow Bay, Osborne is a consistent right-hand point break protected from onshore winds. Despite the occasional strong rip currents, it offers decent surfing conditions all-year-round. Go for it with S/SW/SE swells and windless conditions.
Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia
Located 20 kilometers east of Halifax, Lawrencetown Beach is a popular south-facing, sand-and-cobble beach with strong rip currents, and several peaks. On big swell days, the left-hander opens a sizeable barrel. At the center of the beach, there's a wave for longboarders and beginners.
Martinique Beach, Nova Scotia
Hailed as the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia, Martinique Beach is a five-kilometer white sand sanctuary located south of Musquodoboit Harbour. It is one of the best breaks in the region during summer.
Petitcodiac River, New Brunswick
Located near Moncton, the Petitcodiac River tidal bore produces one of the longest surfable waves in the world. The chocolate-colored wave attracts riders from all corners of the globe.
For more information on events and competitions contact the Canadian Surfing Association (CSA), the official governing body for the sport of surfing in Canada.