Surfing near hundreds of icebergs and against snowy mountain backdrops is all just a day at the beach in Iceland.
With water temperatures hovering around 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring, the surfers who take the plunge must have ice water in their veins.
Surfers have been pursuing waves in Iceland for years, but incredibly scenic videos from action sports photographer and filmmaker Igor Bellido are shining a new light on their adventures. Last year he tagged along with three energetic surfers as they played in the cold water, including a night ride on a glowing surfboard (see below).
Recently Bellido returned to Iceland, having spent a good stretch filming in warmer places like Portugal and the Maldives. This time he followed surfers Adrian Fernandez de Valderrama, Artiza Saratxaga, and Lucia Martiño as they managed to catch waves among hundreds of glaciers. Bellido called it an expedition to “one of the coldest places in the world.”
His video had support from Arctic Surfers, a local company that organizes adventure travel including intermediate to expert level surfing trips around the island. The best surfing is in the fall and spring, according to the company. From May through June, water temperatures peak at about 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arctic Surfers uses Gul Vortex 6/5/4mm Hooded Steamer wetsuits that are known for being warm. They also have booties and gloves for clients, but point out that at the height of the fall and summer seasons, locals wear lighter wetsuits without hoods — or gloves. Brrr.
Granted, the waves caught on video don’t strike me as being particularly huge, but the wintry surroundings and floating ice likely add to the chilly challenge. Check it out here:
When I think about Iceland, the first thought that comes to mind — after Björk — is Arnaldur Indridason’s mystery novel series set in Reykjavik. They’re full of darkness, tongue-twisting names, stomach-churning food, and deadly landscapes that swallow characters whole.
This is a country where emergency-response volunteers have a nearly mythical reputation. While Bellido’s videos don’t downplay the country’s extreme natural features, he does make them seem accessible to adventure-minded travelers. And surfers seem more than ready to dive in.