Surfing Community in Cold Waters: The Pacific Northwest

When one thinks about surfing over summer vacation, places like Huntington Beach and Malibu, Calif, often come to mind. While the warm water of southern California is certainly a popular place to catch waves during the summer, other places — namely, the Pacific Northwest — have their own appeal for surfing enthusiasts.

Photo Courtesy of Noelle Edwards

Approximately 160 miles northwest of Seattle, surfers can be found camping on the beaches of Makah Bay. Nestled in the isolated town of Sekiu, Wash, is Hobuck Beach Resort, a laid-back campground for surfers and RV enthusiasts alike. While the word “resort” suggests cushy accommodations, Hobuck is simply a campground that hosts surfers from all over. Some people camp at Hobuck purely for the scenery, but the campground is mainly characterized by wetsuits and loosely organized surfboards.

Even when the sun is out in the summer months, the water in Neah Bay averages somewhere around 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Surfers brave the icy cold temperatures in  three-to five-millimeter wetsuits, complete with neoprene booties, gloves, and hoods. Despite all this neoprene, the cold water hitting your face can still feel like shards of glass.

Surfers complain of brain freeze and numb hands, yet they stay in the water for hours on end, catching anything from “ankle-biters” to “party waves.” Perhaps it’s the sense of community out in the water, or simply the amazing scenery that Hobuck provides, but somehow the chill of the water isn’t enough to keep surfers away from the feeling they get out in the ocean. Between the day sessions and the highly anticipated sunset sessions, surfers crunch on granola and gather around campfires, sharing stories of the perfect wave they caught or the crazy wipeout they had, proving this an excellent place to meet new people with shared interests.

Despite its remote location and intense conditions, surfing in the Pacific Northwest offers something that can be found in Colorado as well: community and adventure in unlikely places. Hobuck offers the chance to try something new, refine old skills, and meet people. Take a chance on uncomfortable conditions and find the unexpected. You never know who you might meet on the other side of the campfire.

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