Surf in Montréal: How to Catch a Wave
First things first: yes, there is surfing in Montréal. You might be wondering, “How can an inland city have a legitimate surf scene?” While the city isn’t located beside an ocean, it does offer a reliable wave. The wave just happens to be located in a river.
River surfing on standing waves was popularized in the early-1970s, and has become a form of urban surfing in many cities across the world. While using a similar technique to catching waves in the ocean, river surfing is its own unique experience — largely because the wave just doesn’t end. In Montréal, the rapids of the Saint Lawrence River provide a couple of options for stationary surfing.
Visitors to the city are invited to participate in the action. In fact, it’s possible to have an entire surf-themed weekend in Montréal. Cowabunga!
Founded in 1995, KSF offers a selection of river-based excursions, and surf lessons are one of the most popular activities. Participants start at the KSF office in Montréal’s LaSalle neighborhood. Limited to six people per group, the day kicks off with an on-land review of safety and technique, and continues with a short practice in the water along a stationary section of the St. Lawrence River.
Participants walk a few minutes upstream to one of the first rapids: la vague à Guy (translation: Guy’s wave). The coach heads into the rapids and offers assistance to each student as one-by-one they take a turn. The wave is stationary, so once surfers are in the rapids, they can stay indefinitely — an ideal way to practice navigating a wave. For the second part of the excursion, the group heads down river to a section of rapids behind Habitat 67. Here the wave is slightly bigger, providing a ‘next-level’ challenge. Once again, the KSF coach stays with the group, providing one-on-one assistance to get standing and tips on technique.
Beyond the rapids
If you are less inclined to try surfing (or have hesitations about navigating rapids), an alternative option is stand up paddling. Known charmingly as ‘SUP’, the folks at KSF also offer a selection of excursions, including yoga classes on SUP boards, kayaking (white water or touring), and team-building activities.
To try your hand (or foot) with a pedal-boat on the historic Lachine Canal, reach out to H2O Adventures. WetSet MTL offers guided jet-ski tours that let you explore the beauty of Montréal from a whole new perspective. For indoor surf options, Oasis Surf in Brossard offers a sportier version of “surf and turf” (indoor surfing with an onsite restaurant) and Maeva Surf in Laval offers “flowboarding.”
If you want a more-involved surf education, Montréal’s Shaper Studios offers one-on-one lessons on the fundamentals of surfboard design and shaping. The studio is the city’s headquarters for surfboard construction, a place where boards are crafted and local surfers gather. Shaping lessons take between 4-6 hours and can be broken down into multiple sessions (should you prefer to spread it out). Souvenir included.
When it’s time to eat
Born from a love for coffee and surfing, September Café is one of the coolest places to sip a cold brew coffee, while talking about all things surfing — or simply flipping through a surf magazine.
To a surf-perfect weekend in Montréal!
Daniel Baylis, blogger
Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.