Ever wanted to dance with the devil in the pale (green) moonlight? Iceland, a first world country with every possible modern amenity, engaging culture and world class waves is still, somehow, very young as a surf culture (though, no less enthusiastic for it). “You’d never envision that you could find waves that good, in a place that cold,” says photographer Chris Burkard. “I didn’t know what to think, I thought I’d landed on the moon.” And he’s right. The selection of photos Burkard sent Stab for this location was the hardest to whittle down: Endless surreal, otherworldly landscape with perfect barrels grinding through the foreground. “I fell in love with the whole environment and everything about the location itself,” continues Burkard. “It’s a bit of a spiritual experience. There’s an insane surf scene there now, which is the coolest part. There’s some great surfers and talented photographers, and even some guys running some low-key surf tourism, which is done in a cool way because it allows people to go and see the place for themselves if they want to. You don’t have to travel around with them – if you prefer, they’ll just tell you where to go. Don’t try and figure it all out yourself. If you tap into the local scene, you get a different experience and see a lot of places you never would have gone to, had you not had the help. It’s so easy online now, in Iceland it’ll take you 10 minutes to find another Icelandic surfer who’ll show you around.” Get there within the next three years, before it’s overrun with travelling surfers looking for an ice-cream headache and some dinner party stories.
Waves: Points in the surrounding fjords that break on large swells, beachies with 40-knot offshores and violent currents, and thick shelves in the more remote northern areas. Nothing subtle, here.
Cuisine: “You have to try the rotten shark,” says Burkard. “It’s a delicacy, and it’s a kinda disgusting one, but it’s worth giving it a go once in your life. It won’t be the best meal you’ll have. But it’ll certainly be a memorable one. There was a time when the food in Iceland and Norway was brutal, just so bad and expensive. Now they have everything, they’ve figured it out.”
Nightlife: During the summer, Iceland never gets dark. Cities like Reykjavik don’t sleep. Which isn’t to say there’s no partying - it just doesn’t really happen at “night.” Once you’re out into the remote areas (where the better waves are), there's usually not a whole lot more than one or two restaurants, bars, and bakeries per town.
Sharks: Greenland sharks are present in the North Atlantic – they’re the ones known for eating polar bears, horses, sheep, and seals.
Locals: There’s a small group of core surfers in Iceland who spend their days exploring every inch of the country's coastline. Hours of driving are usually necessary to follow weather conditions and find waves. Ride in a local’s slipstream, if possible. You’ll save yourself a lot of searching.
Best time of year: Winter! It ain’t gonna be warm, but it’ll be memorable.
What you’ll need: A varied quiver is very important here. You can expect to find everything from two foot points to thick shelves. Water temp varies greatly by location and time of year. You’ll want a 6mm suit with the thickest booties and gloves you can find if you go in the winter.