The Finnish surfing movement is growing bigger each summer and more enthusiasts are travelling from across the world to test the waters. Yet for the time being it remains a largely undiscovered destination for surfers, making the beaches less crowded than the popular surfing destinations. As Finns flock to their beaches when the sun comes out when temperatures begin to drop you will most likely have the entire beach all to yourself.
A great draw for surfing aficionados to Finland is the challenges the waves produce. The best waves off the Finnish coasts can generally be found during the spring and autumn when storms stir up large waves on the Baltic Sea, but they are definitely not suitable for beginners. The near-freezing temperatures at these times provide an additional challenge to surfers, who need to dress in insulated wetsuits to prevent hypothermia.
Finnish beaches look different compared to Malibu or Waikiki, yet they have a beauty all their own. You can take your board between the idyllic islands of the Finnish archipelago or relax on a beach bordered by tall pine forests. You could even rent a cottage on a private island and surf from there. The charismatic old wooden buildings and cottages along the coastline are also highly appealing.
It is not only surfing that is becoming popular in Finland. Similar sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddleboarding are also finding growing numbers of fans or are being offered as activities for tourists. Finns have even developed their own surf sport, snowkiting, so that they can keep on surfing even during the seven months of the year when their country is covered by snow and ice.
The Finnish surfing community currently consists of only a few hundred people, yet they are a passionate and eager group who are always welcoming to new members or visiting surfers from overseas. Most Finnish surfers are locals taking part in the sport purely for the love of it, but there are some professionals as well. Finnish athlete Erkka Lehtonen recently broke the world record for wakeboarding.
Yet another difference that surfers can find in Finland is the opportunity to surf on one of the country’s magnificent lakes. Some of them are so large they can almost feel like an ocean. Lake Saimaa is one of the largest lake systems in Europe at a whopping 4,400 square kilometres (2,734 square miles) and surfers can regularly be seen tackling its waves.
When you are all done surfing for the day, you can take part in the Finnish tradition of cooling down in a hot sauna. Most beaches have at least one public sauna you can use, although you have to take your own towel. Rental cottages and hotel rooms will almost definitely have access to a sauna as well. A warm sauna is especially inviting if you have been cold-weather surfing and is essential for bringing your body temperature back to a safe level. During the summer, you can cool down after a sauna by jumping back into the ocean or just relax on the beach with a can of Finnish beer while watching the sunset.