When most people think of surfing, it’s usually the sunny beaches of California or Australia that spring to mind – but there’s a new surfing destination rising to prominence. With a secret subculture that has been building for years, Latvia is putting Baltic surfing on the map.
In the west of Latvia lies Liepaja – or, as the locals call it, ‘the city of wind’ – well known for its beautiful but somewhat rough beaches. Along with another city on the same coastline, Pavilosta, it offers visitors a unique chance to experience surfing in the Baltic Sea, allowing them to feel like they are watching California waves crashing against the sandy shores – just without all that sunshine.
The best season for surfing in Latvia
Unlike the summer surfing season in Portugal or the South of France, the active surfing season in Latvia usually takes place during the autumn or even winter months. During the summer months, the coasts surrounding the Baltic Sea are naturally quite calm, and it’s pretty rare to see the large waves that are required for good surfing.
But as the cold weather arrives, the wind finally picks up and Latvians can get ready to enjoy some water sports, including surfing. All you need is a surfboard, wetsuit and some good boots, gloves and a hat – and, of course, some good waves.
Growing popularity of surfing in the Baltics
There is still very little known about the surfing opportunities in Latvia – in fact, many Latvians are not even aware of it. The first surfers in Liepaja and Pavilosta beaches began to appear about 10 years ago, but the surfing culture got its first big boost in December 2011, when Liepaja held Latvia’s first ever surfing competition, the Surf Cup, sponsored by skate, snow and surf brand Boards.lv.
People were shocked when photos of surfers heading out on the Latvian coast started flooding social media. From that moment on, many windsurfers and snowboarders decided to try out surfing in Latvia and the culture steadily began to develop.
Surfing culture in Latvia
There’s no doubt that surfing is becoming more and more popular in Latvia. Pavilosta is already a surfing hotspot, with professionals conquering the big waves during the windy months and beginners learning the basics during the summertime. The city offers several surf schools and camps for children and adults throughout the summer, most of which teach windsurfing or kiteboarding in the event that there isn’t enough wind to surf. And – when the weather is nice and warm – its beaches can even be reminiscent of a miniature Canggu in Bali or Lagos in Portugal.
As the popularity of Latvian surfing grows, both Pavilosta and Liepaja are sure to attract an ever-larger number of guests from far and wide, keen to try out the Baltic waves and see how they measure up.