Active Aberdeen: A Surfer’s Paradise

By: Katie Manning

January 10, 2013

Granted, Scotland’s nefarious (read: oft chilly) climate doesn’t make it the most obvious shout for surf lovers. But Aberdeen – and the Northeast generally – is a top spot for those hoping to catch a few waves, whatever the season, with some beautiful beaches and a vast coastline to choose from. Indeed, while Scotland may not have the sunshine of say California or Bali, Aberdeen’s ragged hills, picturesque dunes and handy access to the city and the rest of the UK make it worth pulling on another layer.

The last 10 years or so have welcomed a steady stream of surfers, emerging in and around Scotland’s North East, from board-loving locals to far-flung visitors keen to utilise Aberdeen’s long curved crescent beach. Exposed, with fast hollow waves, Aberdeen offers surfers some much-loved consistency, with winter and spring proving the optimum time to take to the waves.

Surfing | Aberdeen

Mark Boyd, Granite Reef Aberdeen © Wilkie

Beyond Aberdeen beach, it’s worth going the extra mile north to try the breaks of the surrounding waters at Balmedie, Lunan Bay and Lossiemouth, the latter of which boasts the East Beach, a haven for surfers and sailors alike.

Balmedie Beach | AberdeenBalmedie Beach, Aberdeen © Anna Millar

Novices to the sport can rest easy, with many instructors on hand to take you from absolute beginner to out on the open waves within the course of a lesson. For local expertise and some top-notch tuition, it’s difficult to beat the inclusive vibe of surf shop and school Granite Reef. With almost 20 years in the game, the company’s independent free spirit and friendly attitude belies some truly great surfing talent, with Scottish ladies surfing champion and O’Neill team rider Dee Ripoll available to give lessons, as part of the team. A more recent addition on the Aberdeen scene, NorthSurf Watersports, also offers professional coaching, as well as a full rental service of all the kit you’ll need.

A Surfer's paradise | AberdeenAllyn Harper, Granite Reef Aberdeen © Wilkie

Year-round, the surfing community in the North East keep things interesting with a clutch of competitions and events, the cream of which is the annual O’Neill Highland Open further north in Thurso, the biggest professional surfing event of its kind in the UK.


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

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