The Iceland surfing scene is growing more and more, and there are now plenty of spots that local surfers have tried out and know are good. You can stay around the Reykjanes peninsula for a wide range of surf spots, but you can also explore the country to find whatever suits you the best.
When you think of surfing, Iceland is likely not the first place you'll think of. Despite that, Iceland surfing is now getting international attention. Visitors are more than welcome to visit the chilly and exciting surf beaches in Iceland. They will surely provide that once-in-a-lifetime surf experience.
You will be far away from white sand beaches with palms and coconut drinks when you step into your dry suit to hit the waves in the north. This, dear readers, is a real adventure. Surfing in Iceland has taken off and the scene here is growing rapidly as more and more visitors come here to try out the harsh North Atlantic waves.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this: Iceland surfing can become tough as nails, and you will need to match that energy when you challenge the ocean here. In the summertime, the sun is often out and will provide some warmth, but even though you’re in a dry suit, you’ll need to take regular breaks to keep warm.
In the wintertime (yes, Iceland surfing is done in the winter too), you will need to have a warm place close to your surf spot. Bringing a warm beverage is also strongly recommended.
Best surfing black sand beaches in Iceland
If you have decided to do this, you will be in the best of company. Iceland offers surfing schools, tours, and guides, so you will be well taken care of by the local surfers. The only thing you might struggle with is finding the right gear, as the Iceland surf market is yet to catch up to the demand
The top of the list of Iceland surfing spots goes to Sandvik. This is one of the most popular beaches in Iceland for beginner surfers and is often the first stop surfers make in the country. Sandvik in Iceland offers somewhat easy waves in a safe environment, so it’s the perfect place to start your Iceland surfing journey.
You find Sandvik beach about 60 kilometers southwest of Reykjavík, on the westernmost stretch of the Reykjanes peninsula. This beach is remote from any towns or villages, so you will have to go to either Grindavik or Hafnir to get back to civilization.
Surfing at Sandvik in Iceland can be done all throughout the year, even though the wintertime might be a bit hectic in terms of weather and wind. Since this is a bit of a remote beach, we strongly suggest checking in with the locals and never going there alone. You might be fooled by the seemingly easy Iceland surfing conditions, but the general surfing rules in Iceland still stand.
Not far from Sandvik, we find Grindavik with a similar set-up, just way more intense. Grindavik is filled with rock and point breaches and is completely exposed to the North Atlantic. This is where you go to tackle the tougher waves and weather, so you better make sure the dry suit is on properly and you are a strong swimmer. Getting caught in these waves is not for beginners.
Grindavik beach is on the southwestern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula and just 20 kilometers east of Sandvik. The beach is directly connected to the town of Grindavik. You can easily stay here in one of the many accommodations, or just enjoy one of the many restaurants.
Due to the rough sea, we recommend going here in the summertime if you’re not in the mood to tackle an Iceland surfing challenge. The proximity to accommodation means that you can do half-day turns on the waves and get your body temperature up between the turns.
You should keep an extra eye out on the rocks at Grindavik, as with most surf spots, rocks are considered the most prominent hazard here.
If you’re not in the mood to travel and still want to enjoy the waves close to the capital, you can easily go out on the small Seltjarnarnes peninsula. There, you'll be able to check out the waves around Grotta. This is kind of an odd place to surf, so make sure to check with the local surfers before you hit the waters.
You will be met with a reef breach that aids surfers with plenty of waves. Just remember that there are often smaller waves here, and since the area is inconsistent, you might have trouble finding good waves.
It takes roughly an hour to walk from Reykjavík to Grotta in Iceland, but you can also take the bus if you don’t have a ride. Grotta peninsula sticks out from Reykjavík, so, you will never have issues with finding any food or accommodation nearby.
Just north of Sandvik, you’ll find the small village Hafnir. This small village sits on a big resource: a pristine surf spot. Iceland surfing in Hafnir is consistent and works well all year round, so, you could come here at any point of the year and most likely find a couple of good waves.
Just remember to keep an eye on the weather in Iceland before you leave. Hafnir is a great spot, but it isn’t immune to the rapid changes in weather in Iceland.
Restaurants and accommodation are scarce in this area. The village is really small and only consists of a few houses, so you’ll have to go to Reykjanesbaer. It is approximately 15 minutes away to get a good chance at picking between restaurants and accommodation.
If you happen to be in the Westfjords and accidentally packed your Iceland surfing equipment, you should really go to Breidavik next to Latrabjarg cliff. This is one of the few that don’t form part of the black sand beaches in Iceland, and it’s shaped beautifully concave, facing the ocean.
The waves here will reward anyone who comes to surf. Brediavik Iceland offers good waves all year round with waves that can be around 3m for days on end.
You’ll struggle to find a town or village close to Breidavik beach. Still, there is accommodation and a church right next to the beach, so you won’t have to travel far if you want to make this a multi-day experience.
Close to Breidavik in the beautiful Westfjords, you can find Latrabjarg cliff, which is an incredibly popular place for birdwatchers. Here, you will find numerous Iceland’s Puffin birds in the summertime. And, in late summer, you can watch the little Pufflings jump from the cliffs down into the North Atlantic.
On the completely opposite side of Iceland, you’ll find a hidden gem that will blow your mind in terms of otherworldly scenery and amazing waves. Stokksnes beach offers smaller waves in a harsh climate next to the stunning Vestrahorn Mountain.
The beach itself is a little bit shielded since it’s in a concave shape with proper capes on each side of it. Despite that, you can still get some waves of up to 2 meters on a good day, just time your session with the high tide to get the most out of it. We suggest keeping to the summer here, since the eastern winds can get quite harsh in the wintertime.
Since this is a little bit remote, you shouldn’t go in the water if the weather might turn bad or if you are alone. The closest town you’ll have is Höfn, which is around 17 kilometers, so help is going to take some time. In Höfn, however, you will find plenty of accommodation and restaurants to keep you warm and fed after a good Iceland surfing day. You can even enjoy a game of mini golf or two there.
If you find yourself close to Akureyri and want to hit the waves, we suggest you take your surfing in Iceland to Eyvik. This is one of the beaches that are a definite sure thing, all year round, in both high and low tide.
Here you’ll find pristine beach breaks that offer waves for the more experienced surfer. This beach is not as tough as Grindavik, but also not as easy as Sandvik. It’s somewhere in between, and you will get waves that are anything between 30 centimeters to almost 3 meters high.
Husavik is the closest town, which is well-known for its accommodating atmosphere and high success rate when it comes to whale-watching. You’ll find plenty of accommodation and restaurants in Husavik, so don’t be afraid to stay for a bit.
Tips for Surfing in Iceland
When surfing in Iceland, there are plenty of rules that you will need to adhere to. The ocean is strong around this island, and you will find that the locals have a great deal of respect for it.
- Keep an eye on the Iceland weather reports before heading out
- Make sure to come equipped with the right gear
- Never go alone, and always make sure someone outside the group knows where you are and for how long you’re planning on staying
- Trust the locals and don’t challenge the ocean
With those things in mind, you should be ready to rent a car in Reykjavík and start your great northern surfing adventures!