Unstad Bay

An ice-cold surf paradise


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Better known for its frozen winters and reindeer-pulled sled rides, the Norwegian arctic won’t top the hit-list of many beach seekers. Yet the impressive swells of the secluded Unstad Beach on Norway’s remote Lofoten islands draws surfers from around the world.

The seaweed-strewn sands, jagged mountain peaks and large boulders fading into the waves offer a dramatic setting. Yet the dream is to strike it lucky with great surf underneath a northern light show, most likely to occur between February and March and September and October.

Unstad remained virtually unknown outside of Lofoten until the early 2000s, when media coverage and advances in wetsuit technology attracted cold-water surfers seeking a new challenge. Since 2007, the Lofoten Masters has grown from a local gathering to an international-standard competition. But it never used to be this way. Legend has it that two locals discovered surfing on a trip down under. Upon returning, they fashioned their own makeshift surfboards and a new community was born.

Photos: Olivier Morin/Getting Images, Robert Harding Picture Library/National Geographic Creative/Roberto Moiola, Robert Harding Picture Library/National Geographic Creative/Roberto Moiola, sethakan/ Getty Images

Did you know?

Unstad Bay is home to Unstad Arctic Surf, at a latitude of 68 degrees the most northerly surf school in the world.


Surfers’ paradise
Vast, sweeping sands


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