With 4970kms of coastline to explore, Iceland presents a rare opportunity to surf virgin territory, yet most Icelandic surfers only ride around the Reykjanes peninsula, close to Reykjavik in the southwest. Low pressure systems spawned in Baffin Bay, wind up south of Greenland, before sending groundswells slamming into the Reykjanes peninsula, the first stop on the transatlantic swell highway. These swells can be giant and very powerful, building suddenly and they are often accompanied by raw winds and stormy conditions. The Reykjanes peninsula is covered in old lava flows, so most of the waves break over volcanic reef or basalt rocks, sharp substances that take their toll on booties (and bodies). One exception is the black sand beach at Sandvik, providing a rare beginners' spot, but it can often equal the ferocity of the reefbreaks when it's overhead. Thorli is another popular choice with a defined paddling channel and attracts the Reykjavik regulars to the south coast in N winds. The Snaefellsness peninsula to the NW of Reykjavik also picks up plenty of swell from the S-W with more beachbreak than the Reykjanes but mainly 4WD access trails and few documented, bona fide surf spots. Vik is the southernmost point on the island and attracts any hint of swell down a submarine canyon onto quality black sandbanks. Beyond is a wilderness of waves.
Tides exceed 5m and there are only a few spots that can handle all tide heights. Even the sole beachbreak at Sandvik struggles to break at high tide.
Winter is the most consistent swell season with excellent waves regularly hitting all sides of the Reykjanes. The problem in mid-winter is getting the right conditions to conspire in the very short span of daylight. Strong winds, chilling temperatures, snowstorms and large tidal fluctuations are just some of the variables. September to November can be good months, with manageable air and water temperatures, and frequent low pressures. May-August sees plenty of summer flat spells in the southwest and could be a good time to explore the east and the north coasts for arctic windswells. It's impossible to talk about surfing in Iceland without talking rubber. Water temps bottom out around 3-4ºC requiring seriously thick 6mm rubber and 7mm boots and gloves. Late summer water can hit 12ºC so a 4/3 and no gloves is do-able, but remember the windchill factor can have a big effect and the constant winds can often gust up to 100km/h.