Tofino, BC and Lawrencetown, NS lead the way for coast-to-coast waves
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Canada’s surf scene is totally radical, dude. Even Outside Magazine has taken notice of our Great White Waves, naming Tofino, British Columbia “North America’s Best Surf Town” in their 2010 Editor’s Choice Awards and calling it the Surf City of Canada. However, there’s surfing to be had right across this.
Nova Scotia’s Lawrencetown and Martinique beaches, on the province’s eastern shore, feature accessible surf breaks less than an hour’s drive north of Halifax. In and around East Lawrencetown, surf shops are happy to set up visitors with a simple board-and-wetsuit rental or private lessons at other hot spots like Cow Bay and Conrad’s Beach.
A 160-km (100-mile) scenic drive south from Halifax along Highway 103 leads to White Point Beach— famous for beginner-friendly surfing in a sandy beach resort setting. En route, advanced surfers can take a side trip to historic Lunenburg and hire a guided tour to boat-access breaks.
Locals know Nova Scotia’s surf season lasts all year — but serious riders prefer September’s hurricane season for the prime combination of big waves and temperate weather.
Head way west in the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, and the shores of Lake Okanagan. Try wake surfing – the surfing of a near-endless wave created by a low-speed wake-boat. Think of it as “hands-free waterskiing.” Hire an operator who will show you the ropes (or lack thereof) throughout the summer months.
Also in BC, Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park boasts more than 35 km (22 miles) of surfable breaks. Long Beach – located between the townships of Tofino and Ucluelet– is the park’s No. 1 surf spot, thanks to 16 km (10 miles) of sandy shoreline and reliable year-round swells.
Other beaches in the area include pro-worthy North and South Chesterman – host to the 2010 O’Neil Coldwater Classic – and locals’ favourite Cox Bay, both of which are minutes from the township of Tofino.
Fall and winter bring the biggest swells but beginners flock to the shorelines in summer to surf easy waves and soak up the sun.
The area is home to nine surf schools and rental shops as well as the famously laid-back West Coast lifestyle that so epitomizes the sport.
Truly adventurous water men and women may wish to visit Nootka Island, accessed from Gold River on the Island’s northwest coast, for a surf trip with Tatchu Adventures. Enjoy a stay in a custom-built cedar tree house during your multi-day beginner, intermediate or advanced surf excursion; a true West Coast, old-growth rainforest experience.
Yes, surf’s up in Canada.
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