When we think of surfing in seas, we tend to focus on bodies of water with open windows into large oceans that produce long-period ground swells—areas like the Caribbean (think Puerto Rico and Barbados) and Australia’s Coral Sea.
But most of the planet’s seas are pretty closed off from the major swell-producing oceans—either shadowed by large islands or completely surrounded by land. We don’t often think of these seas as surf destinations, due to a general lack of swell and the fact that when there are waves, they are typically produced by local storms (resulting in victory at sea conditions).
Every once in a while, however, these heavily shadowed or inland seas get the perfect storm track—one producing both swell and a short window of offshore wind that lights up the most fickle of breaks. While we might not give them much thought, these seas can fire—just don’t expect it to happen more than a few times per year.
An inland body of water located in Eastern Europe, The Black Sea has a number of established surf spots, most of which are located in Turkey and the Republic of Georgia. There are even a couple of known waves in the Ukraine! Of course, “known” is a relative term, and the reality is that these waves are more often frequented by surf schoolers and kiters than pro surfers.
Still, every once in a while footage pops up of a handful of local shredders scoring quality waves in the Black. And while these sessions might be few and far between, it’s hard to compete with the local culture and scenery.
Forecast: Black Sea
Southern Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean is one of the world’s largest and best-known inland seas (although it is technically connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar). It has coastlines in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and all of these areas can get quality waves under the right conditions. While most of the media hype surrounding surfing in the Med has centred on Italy and Israel (rightfully so), Egypt has also featured in a Taylor Steele’s Sipping Jetstreams, and there’s no telling what might be found along the rest of the sea’s coastline.
Region guide: Egypt
South China Sea
Located between the Philippines to the east, China to the north, and Indonesia and Southeast Asia to the south and west, the South China Sea actually has a number of zones with decent potential, the most exciting of which might be the disputed islands currently being claimed by practically everyone in the area (particular China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines).
Since those will most likely remain off limits to most of us until the various conflicts are resolved, your best bet is to check out the northern coast of Malaysia, where a thriving surf scene has sprung up around a number of surprisingly good left-hand point breaks.
Spot guide: Philippines
Sea of Japan
While most of Japan’s surf potential is located on the east and south sides of the island nation, the Sea of Japan (“Nihonkai” to the locals) can have surfable waves from time to time. These typically form from winter storms coming out of Siberia (the same ones that dump endless amounts of “Japow” on Niseko and Nagano) and typhoons that cross over from the Pacific. While most of the waves are pretty average, there are rumours of proper barrels breaking somewhere in the sea.
Spot guide: Japan
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