Did you know you can surf in Montréal? Just minutes from downtown, two permanent waves in the St. Lawrence River allow water babies (locals, tourists, beginners and pros) to surf in the city. Surf’s up, so read on!
The fact that Montréal offers up some pretty wicked river surfing earned our city the title of one of the five greenest cities in the world on Tree Hugger ! I decided to give it a try with KSF Surfing and kayaking school and let me tell you… just getting there is half the fun!
Walking with my board, wetsuit and helmet along the slightly muddy and narrow pathway between the gardens of Habitat 67 and the cliff that hangs over the river, I felt like I was on a secret mission. Although I’ve lived in Montréal all my life, I’d never been swimming in the St-Lawrence between the Victoria and Jacques-Cartier bridges. That alone felt surreal. And then, of course, there was the whole “trying surfing in rapids for the first time” aspect…
Much to my relief, I quickly learned that you don’t have to be a pro surfer or some kind of bionic super-woman to give this green sport a try! My instructor Alex taught me everything I needed to know before hitting the water: how to read the stream, get up on my board and control my direction. The only thing you really need to prepare in advance is confidence. (Keep in mind that I did it and lived to write about it!)
Montréal’s wave is static which means you can surf until a) you fall or b) you’re tired. I obviously fell the first time. Actually, I didn’t paddle to the right spot and was automatically pushed out of the wave. But on my second try, I found my way to the heart of the wave, and managed to get up on my feet for about 5 whole seconds. By the third try you should be able to get up and keep your balance no problem. The feeling is incredible!
The more demanding part is actually when you find yourself ejected from the wave. Unlike in the ocean, where you can just get back on your board and wait for the next wave to come, here you will have to let yourself drift away with the current a few hundred feet. Then, once you’re in the right stream, you have to paddle back to the shore, then walk back to the initial point and start again.
The first time I fell, I drifted quite far. Lucky for me, some nice man in a speed boat fished me out and gave me a lift back to the right spot. (Needless to say, I was quite happy!) The other benefit is that surfing gives you a great full-body workout. It’s without a doubt the most amusing way to tone your arms!
Added value: Cute surfers
Insider tip: When the ice melts in spring, the wave is naturally bigger. That makes summer the best time for beginners to get started!