Surfing Beneath Norway’s Midnight Sun

Zach Paley |


(editor’s note:  Our good friend, Zach Paley, has been living in the Arctic Circle of Norway for the past month.  He works on a boat, camps, skis, writes, and takes stunning photographs.  In this entry, Zach finds himself surfing arctic waters on his way back to the USA)

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

Hoddevik makes even the quietest of surf towns look like a bustling metropolis. With a population of 19, the largest concentration of it being at Stad Surfing, we found ourselves at one of the most relaxing places imaginable.


Hoddevik is the first place I’ve ever been that gives my summer stomping ground a run for its money. I will definitely revisit this beach.


If you told me I would be surfing in Norway when I showed up in late March, I would have rudely laughed in your face. The idea sounded too crazy. Even as I put my wetsuit on, I was skeptical this was really happening.


Standing up on the first wave was when it call came together. I love when I find myself in an unexpected situation, and things randomly come together.


Catching waves came at a cost. Tasks like doing dishes in the evening, and typing new blog posts (something I finally had time to do while here) were intensely laborious thanks to sore arms and worked bodies from the thrashing waves.


Sometimes the sea gives, and sometimes it takes. I’d lost a glove on the second Vulkana trip, and my zoom lens to the salty ocean air whileskiing powder at midnight. The sea was making up for what was taken by giving us some memorable days surfing in an unbelievably aesthetic place. I consider using a zoom lens my strength, and I’m not much of a surfer. I found myself out of my comfort zone both on the ocean and behind the camera. Sometimes change happens because we want it, sometimes it is forced upon us. Such is life.


Speaking of things being forced upon us, the joy of getting worked in the waves is one I will distinctly remember. That wonderful feeling of popping above the turbid water’s surface to see another menacing wall of frothing fury crashing down, with you in the crosshairs is so unique, and not wonderful.


I was lucky enough to remember some advice from a good friend this winter: “stay calm, and let the wave take you where it may.” It’s paraphrased, but the idea is there. Bouncing off the rocky ocean floor went from being paralyzingly terrifying to peacefully floating amongst the raging waters…almost. When up, down, left, right are inconceivable, the zen like state one can find while being held underwater resembles what I found when camping. Maybe it was the oxygen deprivation, but by day four I was hooked.

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