SNOW TO SURF
Where in the world can we do both of these sports, in a day, for the most perfect soujorn of snow and sea? Riders, here’s where: Snow to Surf
Is snowboarding and surfing not the ultimate duo of sports?
There are some fundamental principles that the water and snow sports share in terms of mindset and technicalities. But environmentally speaking we then get worlds apart, altitude being the first big’un (because hell knows we can ski on water and surf on snow)…
So despite being two of life’s great joys, it’s pretty tough to get both going together. But, it IS possible…
Here below I’ve put together – with great joy – some spots throughout the world where you can enjoy both and, if you so wish, in just one day.
Here is your reporter, Katie Bamber – a skier, snowboarder and surfer noting down where on Earth rider’s can get the best of both:
The perfect trifecta – city, surf, ski (not necessarily in that order).
Stay in the city, check the snow and swell, and make your way in a day through each…
Or take it more leisurely for a holiday break with the best of it all – not to mention the Chilean culture and people.
So Santiago sits between mountains ocean – the Andes and the South Pacific. Winter is the time to ski and snowboard, July – September, and also the best time to surf.
Chile’s coast is 2,653 miles long and surfing here is known as the goofy-footers paradise, the waves being nearly all lefts. Surfing here began in the ’70s. It’s becoming more and more popular for its big waves and consistency, boasting 300 days of surf a year. The surfing around Santiago is accessible, friendly but big-wave days are a norm (we’re talking 15ft+).
A glimpse at a few:
South west of Santiago, Pichilemu is Chile’s #1 surf spot. Pichilemu hosts big surf comps and has something for every rider, beginner to expert. Newbies should head to Las Terrazas to catch their first waves where experts might find 20-footers at Punta de Lobos.
Known for being a particularly good looking spot. A consistent beach break with both left and right waves. In the dunes behind the beach you’ll also find quad and dirt biking.
Figures below for travel time, and here’s a little on the ski resorts and coast spots.
Valle Nevado is just 25 miles from the city of Santiago – it’s perhaps Chile’s main ski resort, and certainly among the most popular. Powderhounds sums it up as “sometimes deep, mostly not steep, and generally not cheap”.
For the Southern Hem, though, it has some of the best powder. Like anywhere in South America, when the snow comes it’s hella good. The committed stick around town to wait close by for the snow to get up and get their lines.
How about this; stay in Santiago and ride the waves while you wait for the snow to come in and when it does, go get your piece. June to October is when the ski season’s on + there’s swell.
El Colorado is closest to the city with its renowned wide open ski fields.
Skiing is up to 3,300m with a vert drop of over 1,000m – a decent descent.
You can buy an inter-connected ski lift pass with the two neighbouring resorts of La Parva and Valle Nevado.
Here’s some facts so with the swell and the snow you can choose which way round you ride.
Most roads go through the city so do your maths before setting off…
- Santiago to Valle Nevado ski resort – 1hr 30 drive
- Santiago to Ski Portillo – 2 hrs drive
- Santiago to El Colorado ski resort – 1hr 20 drive
- Santiago to La Parva ski – 1hr 20 drive
- Santiago to Valparaiso surf spot- 1hr 30 drive
- Santiago to Pichilemu surf spot – 3 hrs drive
- Santiago to Ritoque – 2 hrs drive
There’s also Easter Island, the Polynesian island off Chile also called Rapa Nui. A boomerang shaped island that has had surfing since early settlers. Get a piece of history on Easter Island.
Of course we know about this for surf, it’s where it all began. But did you know you can ski here too? And all in the same day.
Big Island Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for ‘white mountain’) is a 4,205m volcanic mountain where the summit receives a skiable amount of snow. Pineapple powder, the white stuff is known as way up high there. There are no lifts, no grooming, no resort, but a road that goes to summit. Heaven?
There are also a dozen observatories up here. Take it in turns to drive the loop and tick off a real bucket-lister.
Big Island’s surf is the smallest of Hawaii’s islands, but great surf there is. Banyans, Kahaluu, Honolii are places to start.
Banyans is a few miles from Kona downtown.
It’s a left reef break and a real local surf spot scene to make sure you’re up on your etiquette. Kahaluu has three sections of reef with lagoons between. The farther the reef, the bigger the waves. And beware of urchins.
Honolii on the east side is a favourite for boogie boarders and surfers alike. Do keep an eye out for the rocks, but enjoy the waves that are hollow and consistent, ranging from three-to-12 feet.
Mammoth Mountain to Newport Beach.
Mammoth has the longest ski season in the USA. The Wedge surf spot is only a 45-minute drive south of L.A. Not only is the scenery something really special but the surfing is something to just watch, if not engage in.
The waves are powerful with the biggest swell in southern California (up to 30′).
On the contrary, the out-of-water atmosphere is laid back luxury and the endless beaches, waterfront dining and impressive sunsets make it a favourite Cali location.
Drive the scenic 395 highway all the way to Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area that recently is known for skiing through July 4th (and beyond). It’s a 6-hour journey by car (not too bad for American standards) with skiing above 3,300m.
So California can boast some extreme surfing and extreme skiing, and if you want to ease it up why not fly to the Yosemite airport to fill out the sheer luxury of being able to do both sports in a weekend.
Another North America goldie: Canada’s west coast.
Whistler for the skiing, Tofino for the surf.
Vancouver Island has sandy beaches and year-round surfing in the North Pacific, so it’s a wetsuit jobby in brisk waters. And Tofino is the ultimate relaxed surfers zone.
And the waves are for everyone – but ‘Id say novice surfers especially will have a swell time here with excellent beginner breaks. For the best, head to Chesterman Beach. Cox Bay Beach is the main event, however, and it’s here competitions are held, with its small swells of up to 3 metres.
Whistler I’m sure needs no introduction.
The ski area is huge, the access easy – a 1.5-hour drive of a lifetime next to the Howe Sound along the gorgeous coastline to Squamish, to head up and into the wooded mountains of BC. Spot eagles and more en route.
What’s more, Whistler has a glacier – the Horstman – so skiing through summer is there for the taking.
Waikato for same day snow and surf. Mt Ruapehu to Raglan on the northwest of North Island in a mere 3-hour drive. The skiing is June to October (take the inner months for the best snow) in the resorts of Whakapapa and Turoa on the active volcano of Ruapehu.
Skiing in New Zealand is an experience. The snow is changeable but when it’s in, it’s on and is backcountry skiing galore. Explore and adventure in the jaw-dropping scenery and get off the beaten track. And when you’re tracked out head back down the hair raising mountain passes to the ocean.
Raglan, famous for its left-hand break, is on the worldwide surfing circuit.
Ngaranui Beach is one for all levels of surfer and is where beginners should head. Travel along the coast for all kinds of surf breaks – here intermediates, experts, pros will find even more.
Indicators has world-class waves but for those working up to it, try Manu Bay and Whale Bay. Surfing is year-round with some world-class waves.
The surf trumps the skiing here, NZ’s South Island boasts more of the white stuff, but Ruapehu is certainly on our bucket list and this combo makes for the perfect trip…
South Island does have its options for the dynamic duo.
Mt Hutt is one of New Zealand’s best ski resorts and just a two-hour drive from Christchurch, which has the popular Taylors Mistake – a sandy beach break with left and right waves.
Adjara is a region of Georgia at the foot of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, north of Turkey. And two years ago a ski resort opened, Goderdzi, just 30 miles to the coast and Batumi, Georgia’s main Black Sea resort.
It’s a mild ski season from November to Apirl but there’s snow to ski.
Black Sea waves at the lazy seaside town of Batumi are supposedly surfable – This one would be on you to explore yourselves and we hope come back to us with the lowdown…
It might be that true hidden gem.
Perhaps a surprise country to feature here both for skiing and surfing. The Mediterranean and surfing isn’t generally a thing. The Med is sheltered and enclosed, so there’s little wind and thus wave.
However, the Ionian and Aegean coasts might be part of the exception.
The surf scene seems small and elite. There are reportedly up to 1,000 Greek surfers now… There are even breaks in Athens that lure 100+ surfers. Along the coast, the swell can be hit and miss. Like all the best adventures and the great outdoors, no?!
A great place to learn to surf: Island of Tinos, in the Cyclades head to Kolymbithra beach. It has a sandy sea bottom and ‘easy lineup current’, also home to the region’s first surf club.
Now on the snow side of things:
Skiing in Greece is a novelty but also not as uncommon as we might think. The resorts are small and the infrastructure on the whole needs an update but ski they do.
Mt. Parnassos ranges from 1,640m – 2,260m and is near to Athens. It’s the biggest in Greece with with 13 lifts and 35km of slopes. It gets a little crowded on the weekends, especially in spring, which is probably when you’ll want to go for your surf element too, so a mid-week jaunt is what we’ll suggest. Check they’re open before setting off!
Kalavrita Ski Resort on Mt Helmis has skiing to 2,340m. Similar problems with ‘popularity’ on weekends it’s a doable 120 miles from the capital. There’s even a black slope here…
Check this story of four friends searching for snow and waves:
The list goes on, and I plan to, too. Check back for updates soon.
For interesting and perhaps more unknown places around the world where you can ski, check this out: World’s Obscure Ski Spots