When you think of Canada, does surfing come to mind? In the city of Montreal it’s possible to surf perpetual waves on the mighty Saint Lawrence River.
Known for its strong currents and whitewater rapids, Montreal’s Saint Lawrence River is a favorite spot for kayaking and rafting trips. But local surfers also take advantage of the unique conditions here.
Every day you’ll find a handful of surfers riding river waves.
Wanting to try it for myself, I filled a cooler with refreshing Cayman Jack Margaritas and drove up to Montreal for a few days of river surfing on the outskirts of the city.
I knew that after spending a few days in the sun, cooling off with the taste of Cayman Jack – blue agave nectar, organic limes and real cane sugar – would be exactly what I’d need.
Only a handful of rivers around the world boast standing waves large enough to ride using a surfboard. River waves are created by high volumes of water flowing over rocks, producing a large wave in the process.
Surfers are able to float into this wave and ride the water flow for as long as they want without actually moving anywhere — unlike with ocean waves.
Even experienced ocean surfers have trouble adapting to river waves.
Instead of a nice gradual slope, a river wave resembles more of a half-pipe shape. This unfortunately makes it easier to catch your surfboard nose in the water — resulting in a wipeout.
More Difficult Than It Looks
Once you get pulled over the wave into the rapids (and you will), it’s important to keep ahold of your board and relax. Attempting to paddle against the current is a losing battle that will just make you exhausted.
As the rapids dissipate you swim over to the shore, hiking back to the starting point to try it all over again.
It took me at least 6 attempts to get the hang of it, and I have some surfing experience. Learning to surf a river isn’t easy — be patient!
Now you’d think that Montreal river water would be ice cold — but it actually wasn’t that bad. The water temperature can vary between the 60’s and 70’s (fahrenheit). A wetsuit is recommended if you’ll be there for a while.