Cold, Wet, Stoked!
While the sport of surfing is most often associated with Hawaii or Southern California, cold-weather surfing is growing in popularity along the Washington Coast.
Cold-weather surfing is gaining popularity
Surfing in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of winter might sound like a crazy idea, but if you seek adventure and jump at the opportunity to try new things, then squeeze into your wetsuit and wax your surf boards because it’s time to catch some waves!
Seabrook is the perfect home base as you seek out various breaks along the Washington Coast.
WHERE TO GO
Seabrook’s beach is the best beach for those first starting out surfing! It’s a featureless beach break without any obstacles to run into, along with a sand spit that extends several dozen yards out into the surf, making it easy to stand-up and re-center if conditions are less than ideal while learning.
The best conditions to surf during the colder months tend to be in the early mornings with calmer conditions, says Buck Giles, owner of Buck’s Northwest in Seabrook. Stop by Buck’s Northwest on Front Street to learn more about surfing or set up lessons that include everything you need, from your board to your gear.
For more seasoned surfers, going farther out beyond the wave breaks is sometimes necessary to get the most desired waves.
Surfing up and down the coast near Seabrook is notorious for wildlife sightings, too! From all kinds of birds to harbor seals, crab, and even black dolphins on occasion.
Nearby Surf Spots
During a typical winter, relentless storms pound the Washington Coast with huge swells, torrential rains, and cross-winds causing many a Washington surfer to seek solace in the wind shadow of the Olympic Mountains and the shoreline bluffs.
On the coast, there are a few sheltered wind spots, and one of them is the closest thing in Washington State to “Surf City.” Westport, a harbor town that guards the south entrance to Grays Harbor, is considered Washington’s surfing capital. Here, in the shelter of the jetty entrance, surfers are able to enjoy clean swells manicured by S winds that whip the place into offshore perfection.
On the Northside of Grays Harbor inlet is the seaside town of Ocean Shores. The jetty at the north entrance of Grays harbor creates a rare S wind block and provides a nice wind shadow for surfers to enjoy some spray.
The true hidden treasure of the Washington Coast is Point Grenville, located 7-miles north of Seabrook. Back in the 1960s, Grenville was Washington’s version of Malibu. Point Grenville is on the Quinault Indian Nation reservation and is not currently open. An anomaly on the otherwise pointless coast, Point Grenville interrupts the relentless NW winds and creates an eddy of atmospheric tranquility.
WHAT TO WEAR
The cold water turns out to be a non-issue thanks to wet suit technology. Just make sure you have the essentials.
A Good Hooded Wetsuit
A hooded wet suit is the foundation of your winter surfing gear. Something in the 5/4 thickness should do you well.
You want a round toe boot to keep all your toes together, which keeps them warmer longer.
Gloves are great for water temps in the low 50s and upper 40s. Once things start creeping lower than that you want some mittens, for the exact reasons you want round toe boots.
MAKE SEABROOK YOUR HOME BASE
The uniqueness of winter surfing, remote beaches, a patchwork of reservations and private land, and hidden gems make cold-water surfing in the Pacific Northwest an experience like no other. In fact, many surfers like the cool weather and water because it means fewer crowds.
Check out Buck’s Northwest right within Seabrook for equipment rentals and lessons!
As the surfers say “if this were a little warmer, it’d be Malibu.”
Make Seabrook your surf-seeking home base as you travel along the Washington Coast to places like Point Grenville and Westport.