Best Surf Spots In Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario

Canadians might be polite, but they are tough, and the cold never stops them from having fun. Nor would Canadians ever allow their 125, 566 miles (202,097 km) of coastline to go to waste. Around 2,000 Canadians surf. They may not be in Hawaii, but they are a resourceful bunch, using the sea, the lakes, or even the rivers.

There is surfing in Canada. British Columbia is one of the most well-known areas. Their most popular area for surfing is Tofino. Nova Scotia also has many places to surf. But the rest of the country also surfs, making use of The Great Lakes and some rivers.

Jim Sadler is considered one of the pioneers of Canadian surfing. His legacy follows the Nuu-chah-nulth who canoed surfed and the boom men (loggers that guided timber down the river to the mills). Thus, while Canadians don’t have your typical surfing history, riding the water is in their blood. You just need to know where to go and, perhaps, a thicker wetsuit.  

Where Are The Best Surf Spots In British Columbia?

British Columbia is the most well-known of Canada’s surfing areas. It is also where Jim Sadler got bit by the surf bug. But with 15,985 miles (25,725 km) of coastline, it can be intimidating to know where the top spots are to take your board. 

Just remember, even though British Columbia is known as the “milder” part of Canada, the water is still cold. Unless you are truly a cold-water veteran, you will need a hood, boots, and probably a set of gloves.

Wetsuits need to be good. A high-performance suit can be as low as 5/4mm. But your old-school, run-of-the-mill, patched with duct tape, may need to be as much as 7/6mm for most of the year. However, in BC, you might be able to get away with thinner in summer. 

Some surf shops to check out in the region for lessons, gear, or advice are:

Tofino: Surfing In British Columbia

Tofino is the surfing capital of Canada. It is an inlet set in the Tla-oqui-aht territory that boasts plenty of coastline and old-growth forest. There are beautiful areas that the locals are tight-lipped about, but there are plenty of others where visitors are welcome.

Chesterman Beach is famous. It is a top place to learn to surf while advanced surfers come to play. The beach is a long stretch broken into two sections: Chesterman North and Chesterman South. The north end is known for the lighthouse and the rocky islands. This attracts tourists. Thus, while you can ride the waves in both areas, many surfers hang out at the south end.

Cox Bay Beach is another popular area to surf, just south of Chesterman. Unfortunately, this area isn’t the friendliest to longboards, although it can be done. There are also rips to watch out for. Thus, if you are a beginner, it’s best to have a little experience first before trying this one.

Is There Surfing In Alberta?

Yes, there is surfing in Alberta. This doesn’t seem possible to anyone looking at a map, but Canadians are resourceful. Just take a look at the Calgary River Wave Park project, tied to the Surf Anywhere. At present, the two most well-known surf spots in Alberta are Kananaskis and Bow River.

Kananaskis is known as “The Mountain Wave,” and people will surf this even at -18 F (-28 C). Freshwater surfing has its unique challenges, and The Mountain Wave comes with plenty. The current is fast, the rocks shift, and conditions are cold. Thus, this is not the place to try surfing for the first time. 

Bow River is another popular spot with more surfing opportunities in the works. It’s generally a less hectic choice than The Mountain Wave. If you are looking for more info, equipment, or surf lessons, chat with the folks at Outlier.

Is There Surfing In Manitoba?

There is surfing in Manitoba. The most popular spot is Sturgeon Falls, which is part of the Whiteshell Provincial Park. It is located 90 minutes outside of Winnipeg, and the wave sizes and flow speeds change. Thus, check to ensure the current conditions are safe for your surfing level.

Is There Surfing In Ontario?

Yes, surfing is very popular in Ontario, thanks to The Great Lakes and more. There are excellent spots along Lake Superior, as well as Sandbanks, Lake Ontario and Sandy Station Beach, Lake Huron.

Just a word of warning for all of you “fair weather surfers” the best swells are not in summer. Yeah, sorry about that. But Canadians don’t let sub-zero temperatures stop them. Just make sure you are dressed right. Hypothermia is no joke.

Check out the following places if you are in Ontario looking for lessons, equipment, or local advice:

Is There Surfing In Ottawa?

Yes, Canadians surf the Ottawa River. There are three main spots:

  • Champlain Bridge
  • Sewer Wave (Poo Pipe)
  • Desert Wave

The Champlain Bridge is the most ocean-like wave. It arrives just after the snow melts.

The “Poo Pipe” is near the sewer outlet, hence the name, and is popular when the water level is low.

The Desert Wave is the hardest to reach, requiring a long paddle, but it gives a pretty consistent wave.

Can You Surf In Quebec?

Yes, Quebec has surfing, right in downtown Montreal. The stationary wave can be found near the iconic Habitat 67.

Is There Surfing In Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia has a ton of surfing spots, much like British Columbia, and we’ll point you to two. It is also a good area for warmer weather surfing; thus, people love to come in August. But some people surf in winter because Canadians are practically fearless when it comes to the weather.

Lawrencetown Beach, Lawrencetown Provincial Park, is east of Dartmouth. Its popularity means you can easily find places to take lessons or grab some gear. July and August have supervised swimming areas. The beach also has nice facilities with places to change, shower, and even flushing toilets. However, there are rip currents, so stay alert.

Summerville, situated two hours outside Halifax, is another good spot, especially from August to November. Although some visitors shy away from these dates as it is also hurricane season. But there are nice, white sandy beaches to enjoy and waves to ride.

If you are looking for surfing lessons, gear, or advice, check out the following:

Conclusion

Surfing in Canada is possible, and plenty of locals do it, even when the ground is frozen. They’ve got tons of coastline along with numerous freshwater surfing spots. The trick is to have the right gear and talk to locals about the conditions.