Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Unlikely Surf Spot on the Norwegian West Coast

Of course, you need a decent surf car to go to Hoddevik. Øystein Garfors, my brother, at the wheel.

The beach from Mosekleivhornet, the mountain
to the north. 
The North West Coast of Norway. It's not the first place that comes to mind when the topic is surfing.
Maybe it should be. Hoddevik is a tiny village (find it on Google maps and on Visit Norway's map with much more detail) on Stadlandet, a peninsula which marks the spot where the Norwegian coast turns eastwards. It is one of the places in Norway, and therefore the world, where you have "the most weather." Waves, storms, sun, hurricanes, sleet, breeze, rain, snow, hail, very fresh air and wind. And rapid changes between all of the above.

My brother, Øystein. He can actually surf. 
All of it in a little valley between beautiful but steep mountains that you can easily hike to the top of, thanks to the occasionally used path up the hillside. The mountains aren't only there for decoration or the occasional hike. They provide shelter and make the beach surfable even during extreme weather. With a couple of exceptions. When even the most hardcore surfers let surf be surf and rather stay inside to play dice games or take each other's money in high stake poker games, expect the odd storm watcher. And join them at it, just bring an oversized zoom lens.

As a buffer between the land and the furious ocean, there is a beach with the fine and soft white sand you would normally expect to find in Samoa, Marshall Islands or Kiribati. What the hell is it doing here? It either got lost or just wanted a little more excitement than is to be expected in the Pacific Ocean. Because excitement you will experience. Some surfers from around the world

I cannot. But I had a great time learning. Or trying to learn. 
Just don't expect much mobile coverage unless you climb one of the mountains or go to the top floor of Stad Surfing, a surf camp in an old traditional wooden house built in a style often seen on the Norwegian countryside. It has been modernized and is now the place to stay in Hoddevik. There is a modern kitchen and common room in the basement and a well-stocked surf shop and bed rooms on the main floors. The owner, Mr. Torkild Strandvik, has run the place for many years after he moved from Greater Oslo to live his dream, to be a full-time surfer on one of the most unique surf spots in the world. What it looks like? Why not check out Torkild's photo of the day. He takes one every day, weather dependant.

To stay there won't cost the world either, between 250 and 300 NOK, depending on the length of your stay. Surf classes are offered and equipment can be purchased or hired.

This vessel had no problem passing Stadlandet peninsula. But in the winter, the weather is so extreme that
a lot of vessels have to wait for days to get calm enough seas to be able to pass. It is so bad that
the world's first ship tunnel will be built through the peninsula to let vessels pass regardless
of the weather.