The only thing we love more than obscure surf spots are the people who surf them. Dedicated, passionate, and eternally stoked, these are surfing’s most patient pioneers, the ones who brave frigid temperatures, horrendous conditions, and abysmally short-period swells to ride waves where they shouldn’t logically exist.
Last year, we featured four nearly and partly enclosed seas that have surprisingly robust surf communities and much better waves than you might have imagined—albeit not every day. This time, we are going even farther down the sea-surfing rabbit hole.
Here are five more seas that you might not have realised get their pump on from time to time.
Tucked in between China and Korea, way up above the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea is about as desperate of a surf destination as one can think of. Swell is more likely to come out of the sea than into it and the coastline isn’t exactly rich in point setups and reefs. And yet the magicseaweed surf map has half a dozen spots marked on China’s northeastern coast, and Korea has been the focus of a pretty tidy surf documentary. Makes you wonder what is left to be discovered up there.
Technically connected to the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic is much smaller and narrower, which means that it’s pretty difficult to get swell with more than a four- or five-second period. But there’s a difference between difficult and impossible, as the surfing residents of Italy’s Romagna region know very well. Slovenia is also rumoured to have some sweet setups, and Croatia recently recorded the largest wave in Adriatic history at 10.87 meters! Even Montenegro and Albania could technically have fun waves if a northwest storm swell coincided with local offshores, while Punta Sabbioni in Venice pumps on a southeast storm with northwest winds. Hope springs eternal in the land of romance!
Like its southern neighbour the Black Sea, the Baltic is a fully enclosed body of water in Europe that has seen the rapid growth of its local surf community over the past decade. The Baltic Sea has a relatively small surface area, so potential swell fetch is pretty limited, but that hasn’t stopped people from scoring. Latvia and Estonia both have established surf scenes, Poland can actually fire from time to time, and Sweden has more islands than any other country in the world, so it has to be holding!
Sea surfing is a fickle pursuit, so the best-case scenario is to live in a country that borders two bodies of water. Sweden fits the bill, as it borders not only the Baltic, but also the North Sea to the west. While the North Sea is only partially enclosed, it still has a relatively narrow window for swell—but don’t tell that to the frothing masses in Denmark’s “Cold Hawaii,” or the icy wave warriors in Norway, or even the die-hard barrel-chasers right here in the UK who know that our northeast coast is holding.
Sea of Cortez
The fact that the Gulf of California has good waves is no secret—after all, Cabo’s East Cape has been a major surf hub for decades. But for those who have the gumption (or foolishness) to brave cartel land, there are treasures waiting across the Sea of Cortez on the mainland side as well.
While the waves near resort town Mazatlan are regularly surfed, the Sinaloan coastline north of there remains relatively unexplored, due to the relatively high risk of death by drug lord. Long, symmetrical lefthanders can be seen while driving down the Mex 150, but you’d have to be crazy or suicidal to turn off the highway in pursuit of them.