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Top 7 coldwater surf spots

In honour of the Coldwater Classic – the wildest, coldest surf contest on the planet – WideWorld picks the best breaks that'll give you ice-cream head

Surfing can be like a drug: addictive. So what if it’s winter – you’ve still got to get out there, to fly over the water and be pushed through that exhilarating experience. Sitting at home, dreaming of surf holidays, you’re probably picturing white sand beaches, blue skies and scorching sun. And of course, this is a possibility somewhere in the world at some time, but there’s another side to surfing: the blue skies are still sometimes there, but this can be coupled with biting wind, icy water, and even killer whales.

After last year’s inaugural competition, the invigorating blend of adventure, exploration, surf and competition that is the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series is back, and we are celebrating Shaun Cansdell’s amazing win with our own list of top winter surfing destinations:

Nova Scotia, Canada

A latecomer to the surfing scheme, Novia Scotia was first surfed on Saturday July 7th, 1962, by Rod Landymore who had received a gift of a surfboard from a family friend; this cold coastline is still little known, and this is one of its charms. With water temperatures getting down to -10C, you’ll need a thick wetsuit here, plus a lot of determination to climb out of bed. But, when you get to the beach, it’s more than worth it: just you, a beautiful stretch of sea, with no jostling, and the waves.

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Tasmania, Australia

Obviously, since this is an island, Tasmania has a lot of coastline. The best thing about surfing Tasmania is the variety: safe life guarded beaches for the less experienced, but also some of Australia’s heaviest waves. In fact, one of Australia’s largest ever waves was recently recorded here, it was 18.4 metres high, 10km off shore. Although you probably won’t see anything like this on your trip, there will be some waves to write home about.

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Donegal Bay, Ireland

Ireland is one of Europe’s best surf locations due to its consistent waves, picturesque landscapes, and of course the famous Irish hospitality (and Guinness!) Some spots have swell that reaches over 20 foot, and the spots are less crowded than many of the more famous breaks.

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North shore, Hawaii

Home to the most famous waves in the world, the best waves in Hawaii can be found between October and March. On the North shore, the pipeline seems to break right off the beach. The other side of the island has also got clean waves, reaching three to eight feet, and you can escape the pressure of the crowds and the sometimes intimidating localism. Of course, after a bit of acclimatisation on the south, you might feel up to that kind of challenge.

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Cocoa Beach, Florida

The waves here are a little inconsistent, ranging in the winter from one to 10 feet. You may be lucky and get a whole holiday of perfect surfing, however, you may end up less fortunate and enjoying the famous winter sun, or even making a trip to Disneyland!

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Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira is an exposed beach break that gets waves from local wind swells as well as distant ground swells, with good surf at all stages of tide.

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Yakutat, Alaska

Not for the faint hearted! As well as being freezing cold, the water here is home to sea lions and orca, and the beaches are home to grizzly bear and wolves. The waves here aren’t huge, but they are long and glassy, letting you in for an adventure both on and off the breaks. It’s a mission to get here, but worth it for such a completely different, and un-crowded experience.

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