Surfing at The Beach is Too Mainstream; Do it in These 9 Rivers Instead

When you hear the word “surfing” the one that crosses your mind would be mostly beach or ocean. And you’re not wrong since a lot of surfers ride waves at beaches. But did you know that you can also do it in rivers? Here’s some of the great spots for surfing around the world.

1. Glomma River, Norway

You can find Glomma River around 130km southeast of Trondheim near the Swedish-Norwegian border. Surfers as well as kayakers usually share the same fast stream and standing waves, which are located in mountain environments, jungles, river mouths, and tidal bores.

Be sure to visit and review the surfing spots before you decide to give it a go. You can talk to the local wave riding communities to get more and exchange information so that your Norway river surfing experience will be more authentic. One thing for sure, the river has a very shallow break, so you’re going to need a rope to ensure safe surfing.

2. Snake River, USA

In Wyoming, Jackson Hole isi a popular place to go skiing. But in early summer, the lake dam melt and the area becomes a surfing paradise. The waves are quite high during May and June, although conditions can be inconsistent. You can go to the Lunch Counter Rapids, where the waves are caused by a high volume of water from the melted water.

The surfing season lasts around 40 days each year. And while the river has nice standing waves, you also need to be careful when you’re surfing here. When you fall, the waves will quickly sweep you downstream and you have to know how to exit the rapids safely. Otherwise, you may crash into pointy rocks and injure yourself. But if you’re looking for river waves that are fast and similar to ocean waves, this river is worth a try.

3. Waimea River, Hawaii

Forget about going to beaches in Hawaii, divert your attention to Oahu’s Waimea Bay instead. At certain times only, the waves breaking near the mouth of this river can reach up to 9m. Experienced (and daredevil) surfers can attempt to ride this wave, but if you’re new, you can ride another accessible Waimea wave.

Read also: Top 8 Eco-friendly Destinations for Your Holiday (and How to Have a Sustainable Vacation)

4. Pororoca, Brazil

The high tides of the Atlantic push water into the river, so this river has waves that peak at 3 to 4,5m and surfers can ride the bore for around 30 minutes. During autumnal equinoxes, the waves are at the highest, so people frequently visit around that time. Surfing continuously for half an hour? That’s a great deal.

In the language of Tupi people (the ones who live in the sides of Amazon River) Pororoca means “great roar.” And since Amazon River is rife with wildlife such as piranhas and venomous snakes, there are water scooters and boats to support surfers. This makes Pororoca only recommended for skilled surfers. Debris like tree trunks are also potential hazards, so you have to watch yourself.

5. Bono, Indonesia

Indonesia has a lot of hidden gems, including Bono. The river, located in Riau Sumatra Island, has 3m-high tidal bore as well as some of the longest rides in the world. Also called “Seven Ghosts”, this river is only recommended to the experienced one, as you’re going to need specially-designed support boat.

Bono has three wave effects called Pemulang, Bakat, and Bianca. Pemulang is a backwash that happens after the rebound from Bono, Bakat is tight backwash waves, and Bianca is uncontrollable waves.

6. Qiantang River

There is a surfable beach in China, but there’s also Qiantang River. This river, located near the historic city of Hangzhou, holds the record of the highest tidal bore in the world. During full moon, the wave could reach 6m high and travel at more than 25mph. So if you want to surf here, you have to be professional or experienced surfers equipped with safety and support teams.

The wave itself is a magnet to spectators. In fact, you can go to an annual wave-watching festival in the eighth lunar month. There are usually around 100,000 people that go and see the wave when it reaches the highest point. Though you have to be careful, because there are people that got knocked over by high crests since there are storms in the ocean.

Read also: Love Hiking? Pack Your Bags and Go to These 10 Awesome Hiking Destinations

7. Petitcodiac River, Canada

This river got worldwide recognition after the causeway gates opened 8 years ago. Since then, the tidal bore has been growing and attracting many surfers. You can find the tidal bore twice a day and it comes from the Bay of Fundy.

On 24 July 2013, surfers JJ Wessels and Colin Whitebread from California set the North American record for surfing a single river wave. They both surfed the river’s tidal bore for 29 km long.

8. Severn River, England

This popular river has attracted a lot of British and European surfers, especially in March, April, September, and October because the tides are the biggest during that time or after full and new moon days. Severn River also goes way back to 1955, when it was first surfed by a World War II veteran Jack Churchill.

According to, “Severn has the third highest tidal range in the world – the tidal range can be as much as 15m, this combined to the “funnel” shaped estuary causes the incoming tide to create great a bore.” Other times, the waves reach 2m high and you can ride the waves for about 11km.

9. Eisbach, Germany

In Munich, you’ll find this man-made stream that stretches to the city’s English Garden. It’s an urban park bigger than New York’s Central Park. Keep in mind that the speed of the water, 90cm wave, cement barriers, and shallow depth make this river challenging and is only recommended for experienced surfers. If you’re a newbie, try the second wave downstream.

Initially, surfing was illegal on Eisbach. But surfers back then ignored the law and kept on surfing here as quiet as possible. Then came YouTube and videos of surfers surfing in this river drew more attention to Eisbach. Finally, surfing was legalized in 2010, much to the surfers’ delight. Fun fact: the waves were created by the engineers who wanted to slow the flow of water so that the stream and ambience in English Garden would be more calming.

Have you ever surfed rivers before? Do tell us your experience in the comments below. Make sure to click this article to find out other vacation destinations where you can surf too!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.