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Surfing In The Highlands

Surfing in the Scottish Highlands?  Yes.  According to some of the world’s most elite professional surfers, the Scottish Highlands have dramatic waves and some of the most impressive overhead swells in Britain.  The Highlands of Scotland have recently lured surfers from all over the world, including Hawaii, California and Australia’s Gold Coast.  Not only that, but a world qualifying competition has even been held here in the amazing Scottish Highlands

Where is this incredible surf?  The isolated and rugged landscape of Thurso Bay, on the very northernmost tip of the UK, is home to what surfers refer to as “sublime surf.”  Thurso Bay was once only known to the most dedicated of surfers, kept as the surfing community’s biggest secret.  However, it is rapidly gaining fame and drawing an increasing number of surfing professionals and amateurs.  Waves in the bay can be more than 20 feet high and there are even incredible barrel waves and tube rides, which make up part of competitive surfing.  Thurso East is a fast point/reef break, and several international competitions are being held here.  The O’Neill Highland Open / O’Neill Coldwater Classic is now a regular world surfing event.  It may be one of the coldest events on the surfing calendar, but it is also one of the best.  Surfers in the Far North of Scotland can enjoy a backdrop of fields, sheep and Scottish castles instead of the usual blue sky and white sand!  Thurso has even been considered to have perfect waves.  Nearby Bettyhill is also a surf destination.  The Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Tiree are excellent surfing locations, drawing more interest of late.  As well, you can catch surf off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands.

If you come surfing in the Northern Scottish Highlands, a wetsuit is must.  Water temperatures are cold, and weather conditions need to be taken into consideration.  For seasoned and ardent surfers, winter weather actually provides the best surf, so don’t be surprised if you see surfers out in inclement weather.  Fortunately, there is the 5mm neoprene wetsuit, which does a great job of keeping the cold out.  If you are new to the sport, don’t let the cold conditions throw you.  There are surf shops near the best surfing locations, and they will get you started with tuition and gear.  In Thurso, be sure to visit Tempest Surf Shop.  You can hire gear, get lessons, and enjoy their café which serves local food.  There are surf schools farther south, if you want more tuition before heading up to the Scottish Highland surfing grounds.

Travel to Thurso is easy, even if it is the farthest north you can go on the UK mainland.  Trains and busses run right to the town on a regular schedule.  There are busses which run down the west coast from Thurso, and ferries from Ullapool to the Isle of Lewis.  Ferries to Tiree leave out of Oban.

Whether you are a veteran surfer looking for spectacular surf and maybe even “perfect waves,” or just beginning, the Scottish Highlands are an excellent place to come surfing any time of year.  As long as you are properly kitted out with a good wetsuit, you can enjoy surfing in one of the world’s coldest, but best surfing locations.  Head on out today for an amazing surfing experience!