surf in montreal

Want to surf?

So you want to be a surfer? Where to begin? How to get started? What do you need to know? This page will give you all the info you need to get started, where to surf, what you need to know before trying river surfing, and the difference between ocean and river surfing.

River Surf Spots in Montreal:

Surf spots are listed in order of difficulty.  While surfing please pay attention to the environment, be careful, and never surf alone.  You are surfing in fast moving river rapids.

La Vague a Guy:

To get used to your board and balancing on the board, to practice paddling, and get a good feel for your board go to the La Vague a Guy west of the Lachine Rapids. Not the big raging ones!

There is a wave that forms close to the riverbank, there’s lots of accessible parking, and it is not crowded. The wave is about ten feet from the bike path for the park. The wave is on LaSalle Blvd. Just east of Raymond Street.

Habitat 67

This is where the big surfing wave is. This site is located just west of the small bridge for the casino. You can’t mistake Habitat 67 for anything else. It looks like cement building blocks stacked up in a strange way to form an apartment building.

The wave is right behind Habitat 67. You can park beside Habitat 67 on the small street just east of the tennis court.

Do not leave valuables in your car or on the river bank, thefts do happen.

The wave is easy for beginners at the upper 7000’s.

The lower it is the more difficult it is to catch the wave but the wave is better for surfing. The optimal flow would be somewhere around 7200, although it depends on your ability.

Link to the Water Flow levels:

http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/suivihydro/graphique.asp?NoStation=001003

Right Sides

Still at Habitat 67. This is the wave that forms to the surfers right of the main wave. The wave forms best over 8000’s and is great in the spring. Swim in if it has a lot of white on the face; use the rope if it’s mostly green.

Be careful here as there is a rock behind the wave on the surfer’s right that people do hit if they fall while the water level is lower. Do not surf right sides in the summer. It’s too shallow, you are going to break your board and hurt yourself.

Chambly

Works best in the spring. The wave is a bit after the dam. It’s a steep V in the middle and a rodeo of a wave to surf. It’s rare to see a surfer go over the falls on a river wave but it does happen here!

There’s also a side wave that forms closer to the shore about 30 feet behind the wave that is fun. Keep in mind that it’s a shallow wave. Chambly is for good swimmers only as it has a fast strong current. After the wave boot it to the shore and get out asap. Don’t get washed down river! If you do, keep your head above water, watch out for the big rapids and get out near the fort.

Chambly Water Levels:

http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/suivihydro/graphique.asp?NoStation=030401

How well do I have to swim?

This is the most re-occurring question that people ask.

The answer is… Very well!

Sure you have your board, but you have to be realistic. People lose their boards. You can’t trust your life to a leash attached with Velcro.

Habitat is a long swim back in the RAPIDS. Make sure that you know you can swim the distance without a board should you have to.

If you have any doubt about your swimming go practice swimming before attempting to surf.

Equipment:

Surfboard

If you have one that’s awesome. What kind of board do you need? Something that is UNDER 7’2″, too long won’t work well.

A good board for the river if you are a beginner/ intermediate surfing is one that is nice and wide, has a good nose volume, and is about 6’4″ or 6’8″.

If you want to go shorter go for it but remember that the shorter it is, it will not float as much and will be harder to paddle. The width is important in the river because you need the stability when you are starting out.

A performance short board will work well but won’t be easy to learn on. A nice sized fish is forgiving and will be easier to learn on.

Booties

Surfing booties are a good option, however, you can also wear water shoes that sell at MEC for 22$. The bottom of the river is not exactly foot friendly and the walk back up the river bank to the wave is tough on the feet.

Many people don’t bring booties on their first time and regret it. Get booties.

Wet suit

The water around Montreal can range between warm and Arctic.

Dress accordingly. What thickness do you need?

April- 4/3- Gloves, Booties and a hood

May- 4/3, Maybe gloves, and booties

June- 4/3 will work, 2/3 will work some will be fine with a shorty.

July-August- Board shorts and shirt or a shorty (the water is about 76 degrees)

September- Back to the 4/3

October- 4/3 Gloves and booties

November-4/3 Gloves booties and hood.

Depends on your body and if you usually feel the cold. A 4/3 is enough for most people when combined with gloves and booties to surf once the ice melts.

If you are going to buy one wetsuit buy a 4/3. This suit will get you through the cooler surfing season here and it will be perfect for those winter trips to North Carolina, and spring/ early summer surfing out east. You will not regret it.

Once it is too hot for a 4/3 you can go in board shorts.

Starting to River Surf:

First and foremost please don’t try surfing unless you are a good swimmer. You have a board that will float but it can get detached from you.  Please only surf if you are a good swimmer.

If you try river surfing you should be an excellent swimmer, the currents and rapids add a whole new level to getting back to shore.

Have you surfed before?

If you have some surfing experience you have an idea of how to stand and surf once you have caught the wave but it is a different world.  The wave is constant.  It never stops.  Going down the line is replaced by carving back and forth on the wave face.  It really is quite the experience.

Take a look at this short clip of how to catch the river wave.  It looks easy in the clip, but he has a whole lot of practice!

Surf Spots:

While surfing please pay attention to the environment, be careful, and never surf alone.  You are surfing in fast moving river rapids.

LaSalle.  AKA La Vague a Guy:

To get used to your board and balancing on the board, to practice paddling, to learn to use a towrope, and get a good feel for your board go to the Lachine rapids.  Not the big raging ones! There is a wave that forms close to the riverbank, there’s lots of accessible parking, and it is not crowded.  The wave is about ten feet from the bike path for the park.  The park is on LaSalle Blvd.  Just east of Raymond Street.

Habitat 67.

Link to the Water Flow levels:

http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/suivihydro/graphique.asp?NoStation=001003

This is where the big surfing wave is.  This site is located just west of the small bridge for the casino.  You can’t mistake Habitat 67 for anything else.  It looks like cement building blocks stacked up in a strange way to form an apartment building.  The wave is right behind Habitat 67.  You can sometimes park beside Habitat 67 on the small street just east of the tennis court.  You will figure it out on your own very easily.

Here is the current water flow level.  The wave is easy for beginners at the upper 7000’s.  The lower it is the more difficult it is to catch the wave but the wave is better for surfing. The optimal flow would be somewhere around 7400, although it depends on your ability.

Right Sides: Still at Habitat 67, however this is the wave that forms to the surfers right of the main wave.  The wave forms best over 8000’s and is great in the spring.  Swim in if it has a lot of white on the face; use the rope if it’s mostly green.  Be careful here as there is a rock behind the wave on the surfer’s right that people do hit if they fall while the water level is lower.

Chambly. Works best in the spring.  The wave is a bit after the dam.  Here is the water level chart.  It’s a steep V in the middle and a rodeo of a wave to surf.  It’s rare to see a surfer go over the falls on a river wave but it does happen here!  There’s also a side wave that forms closer to the shore about 30 feet behind the wave that is fun.  Use the rope and keep in mind that it’s a little shallow.  Chambly is for good swimmers and has a fast strong current.  After the wave boot it to the shore and get out asap.  Don’t get washed down river!  If you do, watch out for the big rapids and get out near the fort.  Not a bad ride down river but a little bit of a walk back.

http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/suivihydro/graphique.asp?NoStation=030401

Equipment:

Surfboard.  If you have one that’s awesome.  What kind of board do you need?  Something that is UNDER 6’8″, too long wont work.  A good board for the river if you are a beginner is one that is nice and wide, has a good nose volume, and is about 6’4″ or 6’6″.  If you want to go shorter go for it but remember that the shorter it is, it will not float as much and will be harder to paddle.  The width is important in the river because you need the stability.  A performance short board will work good but wont be easy to learn on.  A nice fish is forgiving and will be easier to learn on.

Booties.

Surfing booties are a good option however you can also wear water shoes that sell at MEC for 18$.  I’ve had them for 2 yars and they still look new, they are  small but are also surprisingly warm and I was able to start surfing at the end of April without discomfort.  The bottom of the river is not exactly foot friendly and the walk back up the riverbank to the wave is tough on the feet.

Many people dont bring booties on their first time and regret it.  Get booties.

Wet suit.  The water around Montreal can range between tropical and Arctic.  Dress accordingly.  What thickness do you need?  Depends on your body and if you usually feel the cold.  A 4/3 is enough for most people when combined with gloves and booties to surf once the ice melts.  A 3/2 wetsuit is not enough for the chilly wind and cold water.  If you are going to buy a wetsuit buy a 4/3. This suit will get you through the cooler surfing season here and it will be perfect for those winter trips to North Carolina, and spring/ early summer surfing out east.  You will not regret it.  Once it is too hot for a 4/3 you can go in board shorts.  That’s right, in the summer we only wear shorts.  The water is actually hot!

How good do I have to swim? This is the most re-occuring question that people ask.  The answer is… Very well! Sure you have your board, but you have to be realistic.  People lose their boards.  You can’t trust your life to a piece of string and velcro.  Habitat is a long paddle.  Make sure that you know you can swim the distance without a board should you have to.  If you have any doubt go practice swimming.

Ocean Spots

Leaving from Montreal, here are some of the best bets when it comes to ocean surfing spots.  Starting from the closest working our way down the east, these are my favourite driving distance surfing locations.  Being on the east coast surf times can vary but are most reliable in the spring, fall and winter.  Basically you can find surf before mid may, and after Labour Day.  Difficulty levels can vary.  Even the friendliest spot can turn into experts only area’s during a hurricane swell.  I will talk about the spots during average times and average conditions… the conditions you might expect if you check surfline, see something promising and get in the car and go.

In the spring bring your rubber!  Mid to North atlantic is cold.  Even in May you can expect to put on your hood and full suit if you are surfing north of New Jersey.  The ocean can take a little while to warm up depending on the currents that season.

Surfing in Maine and New Hampshire.

Ogunquit, Moody, Wells beach, The Wall, Hampton beach, York.  These are the closest and most commonly known surf spots to Montreal, 5 to 6 hours driving time south east and easy to find.  You can almost just drive to the border and follow the Quebec license plates to the beach.  Sure you need a wetsuit but the water isn’t that bad.

New Hampshire is where you will find Hampton beach and the Wall.  The wall is basically at the north end of Hampton beach and has fairly consistent surf.  The only problem is that the surf zone is small and the swimming zone is huge.  Go early, to avoid the lifeguards and get the best breaks.

The town of Wells: Moody, and Ogunquit, my New England favorites.  Whether it’s the river mouth break at Ogunquit, or the beach break at Moody, these are fun waves.  There’s a reason that I have chosen this spot for the annual surf camp. It’s fun and as far as surfing goes, it’s an easy and friendly spot.  The Ogunquit River mouth is right beside the Ogunquit parking lot and boasts a few fun beach breaks and the river mouth break.  Head down there at a changing tide, and pick your peak.  It’s a friendly sand bottom, shallow, un-crowded wave with a beautiful sandy beach.  Bring your long board for small days and if it’s a little bigger bring your short board or fish and enjoy.  Best at 3-5 feet.

Moody Beach is fun.  Plenty of waves, no one else there and parking is only 10$ for the day if the booth is open (may change, but every time I’ve been it was 10$ or free).  Sand bottom, fun waves and you are surfing just you and your friends, what could be better?!  The Rip slowly drags you north along the beach but gets strong during large surf.

Wheels N Waves, located at 579 Post road, or Main Street route 1, is about 5-10 minutes north of Ogunquit and Moody, and a few minutes South of Wells Beach, it’s the white house with the surfboards out front.  Excellent prices on everything, extremely friendly service, and Surf Montreal’s top pick for a surf shop. Rent your Wetsuit and boards here for the best deal in New England.  Say hi to Vic and Bob for us!

Surfing in Long Island NY

Honestly, I would like to explore Long Island’s potential a little more then I have.   The drive is a long one, NYC plus 1-3 hours.  Long Island as the name suggests is LONG.  Nothing to stop a surf stoked Chris and an equally stoked Dan, and the girl who wanted to go to the beach for a weekend named Jen though.  We went about midway along and surfed for two whole days before having to return to Montreal late on the Sunday night.  We surfed at a place called Fire Island, we thought the name sounded cool and it was supposed to have good surf so why not!  Unfortunately planning a surf trip in an hour and leaving isn’t a good idea. We missed out on some amazing Fire Island potential and could have scored some of the quieter better breaks a little walk east of where we were.  In short I am going back to Long Island to explore Montauk and Fire Island a little more as soon as I can get some more time off.