When we’re not busy offering cheap flights between USA and Europe we like conducting serious scientific research. In June 2017 we launched flights between California and Iceland which is how we came up with our latest theory: “It is possible to surf the waves of both California and Iceland in under 24 hours”.
We contacted world renowned surfer Anastasia Ashley and asked her to help us put our theory to the test this fall. The 29-year-old So-Cal surfer grew up between the beautiful beaches of the North shore of Oahu. Anastasia learned how to swim at age two, she was body boarding by the age of four and surfing by the age of six. She was considered a prodigy on the scene when she was just seven years old when she started competing and went on to win over 200 amateur events, including the NSSA National Championships at age 16. After that she turned full time professional.
“I’m an avid world traveler, so literally going around the world in one day on a surf adventure, was a challenge that was meant for me!” said Anastasia about our 24-hour surf challenge.
The journey began in Zuma Beach in Malibu where Anastasia set out on a race against the clock to be the first person to surf in both California and Iceland within 24 hours. WOW air’s camera crew followed Anastasia every step of the way to document the whole thing and share her feat with the world. Jumping into her car after a sunny surf session in the Pacific Ocean, Anastasia went straight to LAX airport and boarded a purple WOW aircraft for a 9-hour flight to Reykjavik.
After landing in Iceland, Anastasia faced an adventurous drive through Southern Iceland, which many have compared to an alien planet. When arriving at our chosen surf spot at Vik, nothing could have prepared her for the extreme weather conditions and breathtaking Icelandic scenery surrounding her. WOW air’s surfer guide and safety specialist, Bjarki Thorlaksson, owner of Adventure Vikings, said that the weather conditions were one of the harshest he’d seen this year. That didn’t stop Anastasia as she faced the unforgiving Icelandic nature head on. The video recap really puts into perspective the extreme contrast between sunny California and arctic Iceland.
The challenge was completed with time to spare, in only 23 hours and 43 minutes. “Being able to surf in LA and Iceland within the 24 hours sounds like a dream day to me. I even got time to hit the Blue Lagoon after!” said Anastasia when looking back on this adventure. We could have chosen an even a faster way, surfing in Manhattan Beach, closer to LAX airport, and surfing closer to the Reykjanes Peninsula instead of Vik, which would have taken even less time. You see – it is possible and we challenge all the adventurous surfers out there to take on the Cali-Iceland 24-hour Surf Challenge.
Iceland might not be the first destination that comes to mind when someone says “let’s go surfing”, but this little island in the North-Atlantic Ocean might just surprise you. We’ve had surfers in Iceland before and they all tell the same tale: Icelandic waves are awesome and unpredictable and with the evolution of neoprene the cold waters are not an issue. Plus, the risk of getting a sunburn are minimal. Spring and autumn are the seasons where you’ll find the biggest waves but surfing is of course easiest during the summer when we have up to 24 hours of daylight. Because Iceland isn’t a well-known surfing destination there’s very minimal chances of competition on those waves.
Surfing in Iceland is a unique experience and everyone should be able to find waves at their level, from huge barrels to slow mushburgers, clean waves, junky waves and everything in between. The south coast is ideal for surfing, it’s easy to drive and the black sand beaches are perfect for beginners. If you’re not one for making things easy you can find good waves everywhere and our guide Bjarki at Adventure Vikings told us his favorite spots are in the West Fjords and North Iceland. If you’re coming to Iceland to surf for the first time, finding companies such as Adventure Vikings to guide you to the best spots is recommended.
Parka or good jacket
Mittens or gloves
5,4 mm wetsuit (or 6,4 mm wetsuit)