Cold Water Adventure: Norway
If you haven’t visited Scandinavia before, get your passport ready for a trip to this magical cold water surf destination.
words CORINNE EVANS photos BEN JONES
With Norway being on our bucket lists since I met my husband Ben many years ago, it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate his birthday. Since meeting Ben my love of cold-water surfing has grown, and as much I still enjoy a sun-kissed holiday filled with bikini surfs, there’s something enticing about the thought of braving the waves of the North Sea wrapped head-to-toe in neoprene.
Boasting untamed beauty from its mountains and fjords to its coastal terrain, Norway is home to a magical landscape. Recently it’s a destination that has also been put on the map for its surf breaks. We could have easily spent a month exploring its beauty, but within four adventure-packed days we managed to surf, SUP, hike and fall in love with Norway.
Having arrived in Stavanger aboard Norwegian Airlines, we based ourselves in the Sola region, in the southwest of the country. Just 20 minutes’ drive from the airport, our hotel was right on the beach and we enjoyed stunning views of the ocean, untouched coastline and lush countryside from our room. It reminded me of how Cornwall would have been 20 years ago. With so much to do, and so little time, here’s what we got up to in our four jam-packed adventure days.
Day 1: Surfing
After a lazy breakfast beside a roaring log fire we took a walk along Sola beach. The air felt cold and crisp and there was a strong northerly wind blowing. We checked the charts and the waves looked good down the coast. Our surf guide from Foam Travel picked us up and we headed down the coast, in search of a sheltered spot. Along the way we witnessed the incredible coastline, where you can go for miles and only see a few houses. After a short drive we ended up at a right-hand point break, where there were only a few surfers out. The wild ocean out back didn’t seem to affect the tiny cove that played host to fun, peeling wedges. We surfed through hailstorm after hailstorm and got battered by the wind, but that only made it a more enjoyable and authentic North Sea surfing experience. At times it felt intimidating, with the raw power of the waves and thick kelp that covered the boulders we were surfing over; I felt so far away from home.
“At times it felt intimidating, with the raw power of the waves and thick kelp that covered the boulders we were surfing over”
Day 2: Hike and SUP
On day two we were both very excited to hike to one of the tallest waterfalls in southern Norway, before stand-up paddleboarding along the Frafjord. Both the hike and the SUP were way up there with the most amazing experiences we’ve ever had – it’s moments like those that make us both realise what makes us happy and feel alive. It’s not about having the best car or a big house, for us it’s about being able to witness these beautiful wonders of the world.
Day 3: Surfing
It was a bonus to be able to surf in the North Sea again, but what a difference a day can make. We went from surfing in hailstorms with wind-burnt faces, to surfing in warm sunshine and a light offshore breeze. This surf felt much more laidback. There were only a few in the line-up again, and most of the surfers being female there was a lovely atmosphere in the water, with everyone cheering each other’s waves. We felt quite at home.
“We went from surfing in hailstorms
with wind-burnt faces, to surfing in warm sunshine and a light offshore breeze.”
Day 4: The final hike
On our final day we went from the top of a mountain, surrounded by snow, to checking in at the airport within a few hours. Our two-hour hike saw us walk roughly over 19,000 steps, most of which were across snow and ice. At the peak we took photos, drank coffee and soaked up the rolling views of the fjords and mountains. Looking back on this trip, it really was a game changer for me. I have always thought that a holiday needed to involve bikinis, warm water and endless surfs, but really all I need is to be surrounded by natural beauty, with awesome people and a variety of adventures on tap.
Tips For Travelling In Norway
• Pack a flask and a water bottle. The water is good to drink so it will save you some pennies and plastic waste if you refill your water. We also packed a Northcore flask and a couple of mugs which we used every day, who knew a mug of coffee could bring so much joy after a surf in the North Sea?
• Take a camera or GoPro. Although you may not want to spend all your time behind the camera you would be mad to miss the chance to document this beautiful part of the world. My iPhone did not like the cold and kept giving up on me, meaning I couldn’t rely on it to capture my photos, so I was extremely thankful for my GoPro and SLR camera.
• Opt to stay somewhere that includes breakfast. If you’ve done any research you will see that Norway can be a little pricey and if you’re on a budget then try and book somewhere that includes breakfast in your accommodation. Filling up on a hearty breakfast will keep you fuller for longer, meaning you won’t waste your adventure funds buying snacks.
• Pack snacks. We chucked a few protein bars, cereal bars and chocolate treats into the suitcase for the trip. These were a bit of a saviour at times. When you’re hiking up a mountain or going off the beaten track to find surf, you’re not going to stumble across a corner shop, so packing snacks and hot drinks is essential.
• Wear the right kit. This applies to both on the land and in the water. It’s cold and you’re going to need a hat, gloves, scarf, a warm coat and thermals. If you’re planning on hiking you will need suitable footwear. It got pretty icy and wet on our hike up the waterfall and mountain, so if you were doing it all in trainers it would have been a nightmare and actually quite dangerous.
• Travel with a guide. Our guides saved us so much time and energy. They knew where to go, how to get there, the quickest way or the most scenic route to take. Having locals to show us around removed all the stress and uncertainty that usually comes with travelling to a new destination. And although getting lost of finding your own path can be exciting, when you’re somewhere for only four days, you don’t want to waste too much time reading a map.
Thanks to the team at Foam Travel for making our trip unforgettable (foamtravel.com).