That trip to Bali, California, Fiji or even France is going to mean sharing your slice of the ocean pie with everyone else that’s looking for a warm wet win. But, think outside the hot box and there’s a plethora of empty waves only a few hours from your doorstep, all you need is a thick wetsuit and a toleration of the occasional brain freeze.
If you’re not quite sure, Norway is the tall skinny bit on the left hand side Scandinavia, just up and right a bit from Scotland and left of Sweden. Westerly facing and boasting an impressive coastline of over 1500 miles, it’s wild and rugged, scribble like shore grabs all the swell the North Atlantic offers and folds, wraps, dumps and peels the resulting waves into a selection of isolated playgrounds. We headed for Hoddevik, a small surf town on the Stadlandet peninsula in the Selje Municipality, your best bet if you’re heading this way from the UK.
At only 280 miles from the north coast of Scotland, Norge (as the locals prefer to call it) is surprisingly close to home and refreshingly cheap to get to. British Airways take an Airbus a day from Heathrow to Bergen, which is where you want to be heading as it offers the easiest access to the best surf spots. Book far enough in advance and you’ll get a round trip for under £100. For the road trip lovers, feral van squatters and board hoarders out there, there’s also the option of a cheapo ferry from Dover (around £35) and a bum numbing two day drive to the coast. But that might not be such a bad thing.
Driving through Norway is a bit like having a handful of picture postcards repeatedly thrown at your face. The thawing of the last ice age left Norway’s landmass peppered with countless deep fjords and huge mountains that make any long distance travel equally slow and beautiful.
Every twist and turn in the road (and there’s a lot) reveals another combination of sheer mountainsides, lakes, villages, forests and cottages. It’s for this reason that the 225 mile drive to Hoddevik is going to run you somewhere in the realm of eight hours behind the wheel. There are a couple of fjords that need crossing by ferry, which run regularly throughout the day. It’s well worth checking timetables and adjusting your plans to suit as narrowly missing an hour crossing means you’re in for a two hour wait for the ferry to get back.
After you’ve threaded your way through more tunnels than you can remember, squeezed through narrow mountain passes and dodged sleepy
roadside sheep, you’ll arrive at the multi hair-pinned road into Hoddevik. You’ll probably stop and Instagram the hell out it, but that’s OK.
Hoddevik is a tiny farming village flanked by a pair of wind deflecting mountains which shelter the bay from any nasty gusts that try and upset the perfect right created by the harbour at the north end of the beach. Working best on a southwesterly to west swell, the large circular bay funnels the swell into perfect lines, groomed by a deceptively gusty easterly breeze that surges around the valley. Don’t be fooled by the wind when you step outside as what can feel like a force nine in the village is sometimes nothing more than a light breeze by the time you’ve walked to the beach.
Depending on who you ask, and who’s at the shops, Hoddevik boasts a permanent population of somewhere between 15-25, so even with the surf camps at capacity and few visiting surfers, this place is never going to look like North Cornwall in August. The locals spread a cheerful and friendly vibe in and out of the water’ you’re more likely to get a wink than stink eye.
Refreshingly consistent, it’s not often you’ll find a totally flat day here. If nature is not delivering the goods at Hoddevik, there are a few other options close by. Just around the other side of northernmost mountain is Ervik, which offers a higher performance wave than Hoddevik, with a punchier low tide option that fills out as the tide hits high. Ask around at the surf camps and you might even be enlightened to a few of the more secret spots.
Like most of Scandinavia, normal day-to-day activities in Norway tend to cost a few quid more than we’re used to.
Equipment wise, you’ll need more rubber than normal and we’d advise you to take your favourite boards. Although the surf camps and hostels will dish out 5/4/3 suits all year round, if you’re bringing your own kit, you can easily get away with a decent 4/3 up to the end of September. If you’re visiting from October onwards you’re in 5/4 territory, and you’ll need boots, gloves and hat. If you luck out with head high grinders you’re laughing, if it’s small there’s a wide selection of logs and mini-mals available to rent from the two surf camps.
The wild and rugged, scribble like shore grabs all the swell the North Atlantic offers and folds, wraps, dumps and peels the resulting waves into a selection of isolated playgrounds.
Eating and Drinking
Like most of Scandinavia, normal day-to-day activities in Norway tend to cost a few quid more than we’re used to. A pint of beer is upwards of £5 and a bottle of wine is often north of £25. A standard meal out and you’re looking at at least £30. Having said that, you can buy cheese filled hotdogs covered in bacon at most petrol stations, which is handy if you have splashed out on booze the night before.
There’s no Happy Shopper in Hoddevik so you’ll need to stock up on the necessities on the journey, or generally it’s a half hour drive to the nearest town. And make sure you arrive with enough fuel to get back out again; you could be waiting a while for someone to pass by with a jerry can.
Where to Stay
Despite the tiny size of the village, there are a couple of choices when it comes to accommodation. The La Point surf camp offers standard hostel style housing with bunked rooms, communal kitchens and shared living space. Clean and tidy and run by the friendliest bunch of surfers you could imagine, we felt right at home for the couple of days we stayed. Double rooms are available if you want a bit more privacy and there’s a wonderful hot tub in the garden for thawing out post surf.
Further towards the beach is Stad Surfing, a well presented surf house run by pro snowboarder, turned surfer Mads Jonsson. These guys thrive on living off the land. If you’re having food here chances are whatever’s on your plate has been on the receiving end of a rifle or a rod in the last few days. Get Mads chatting and you can be sure to hear some wild stories from his ten year snowboarding career, all over some cracking fish and chips, of course.
Both places offer board and wetsuit hire with prices depending on the length of your stay and what you need.
Massive thanks to Marc at Mini for nailing transportation duties with a couple of box fresh Coopers. The team at La Point Surfcamp for comfy beds, hot showers and late night twerking. Mads at Stadt Surfing for an insight into the world of pro snowboarding, and Ion cameras for helping us to document the trip.