River Surfing In Montreal: Not Your Typical Surf Trip

Montreal Surfing
Surfing in Montreal
Montreal, Canada

When you think of Canada, does surfing come to mind? In the city of Montreal it’s possible to surf perpetual waves on the mighty Saint Lawrence River.

Known for its strong currents and whitewater rapids, Montreal’s Saint Lawrence River is a favorite spot for kayaking and rafting trips. But local surfers also take advantage of the unique conditions here.

Every day you’ll find a handful of surfers riding river waves.

Wanting to try it for myself, I filled a cooler with refreshing Cayman Jack Margaritas and drove up to Montreal for a few days of river surfing on the outskirts of the city.

I knew that after spending a few days in the sun, cooling off with the taste of Cayman Jack – blue agave nectar, organic limes and real cane sugar – would be exactly what I’d need.

Montreal Surfing
Not Your Typical Surf Spot
Cayman Jack
Stocked with Refreshments

River Surfing

Only a handful of rivers around the world boast standing waves large enough to ride using a surfboard. River waves are created by high volumes of water flowing over rocks, producing a large wave in the process.

Surfers are able to float into this wave and ride the water flow for as long as they want without actually moving anywhere — unlike with ocean waves.

Even experienced ocean surfers have trouble adapting to river waves.

Instead of a nice gradual slope, a river wave resembles more of a half-pipe shape. This unfortunately makes it easier to catch your surfboard nose in the water — resulting in a wipeout.

Montreal Surfing
Surfing a River!
Montreal Surfing
Hiking to the Lineup

Habitat 67 Surf Spot

There are a few different waves you can surf on the Saint Lawrence River. The one most people learn on is called “Bunny Wave” near the Lachine Rapids area. Once you master that, you can move up to Habitat 67.

Habitat 67 is a much larger & faster wave located behind a famous building with the same name. Surfers park by the tennis courts and walk down a dirt path in back.

Everyone was polite (it’s Canada!) and rode the wave for only a few minutes before waving the next person over. While waiting for my turn, I passed the time sharing surf stories and tasty Cayman Jack Margaritas with others in the lineup.

They appreciated a refreshing margarita before tackling another wave. Inspired by my partnership with Cayman Jack, I thought about how important it is to craft your own journey when you travel.

This means embracing everything that comes along with a new adventure. The planning, the anticipation, the challenges, the people you meet — the little pieces that produce a complete journey.

Montreal Surfing
Crafted by the Journey
Montreal Surfing
The Wave that Never Ends

How To Surf A River

River surfing can be challenging. The general process is to start upriver, paddle out, and carefully maneuver into position before turning backwards at the last second letting the current drag you into the sweet spot with the most whitewater.

Once you drop into this liquid half-pipe, paddle hard as you get sucked backwards. If you don’t put in enough effort, the river’s powerful surge will drag you over the top and down through the rapids.

Ride the surfboard on your stomach for a while first to get a feel for the wave.

Once you’re comfortable, pop up and maintain your balance. Because it’s a perpetual wave, you can theoretically ride it for as long as you want!

Montreal Surfing
Habitat 67 Building
Montreal Surfing
Making New Friends

More Difficult Than It Looks

Once you get pulled over the wave into the rapids (and you will), it’s important to keep ahold of your board and relax. Attempting to paddle against the current is a losing battle that will just make you exhausted.

As the rapids dissipate you swim over to the shore, hiking back to the starting point to try it all over again.

It took me at least 6 attempts to get the hang of it, and I have some surfing experience. Learning to surf a river isn’t easy — be patient!

Now you’d think that Montreal river water would be ice cold — but it actually wasn’t that bad. The water temperature can vary between the 60’s and 70’s (fahrenheit). A wetsuit is recommended if you’ll be there for a while.

Next time you’re in Montreal, rent a board or take a lesson and check it out! River surfing is a pretty unique adventure. ★

Watch Video: River Surfing Montreal


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Travel Planning Resources For Canada
Location: Montreal, Canada
Company: KSF Surfing
Total Cost: $20 USD (3 hour rental)

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Have you ever heard of river surfing before? Would you try it?


Cayman Jack

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When you think of Canada, does surfing come to mind? In the city of Montreal it's possible to surf perpetual waves on the mighty Saint Lawrence River. More at ExpertVagabond.com
When you think of Canada, does surfing come to mind? In the city of Montreal it's possible to surf perpetual waves on the mighty Saint Lawrence River. More at ExpertVagabond.com

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Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my journey.
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30 thoughts on “River Surfing In Montreal: Not Your Typical Surf Trip”

  1. This looks like a really cool thing to do in Montreal. It’s definitely not something that I’d think of when visiting the city! Have you ever surfed in Australia? I was wondering how it compares.

    • Haven’t been to Australia yet! But I’ve surfed in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Hawaii. River surfing takes some getting used to, and is a bit harder than ocean surfing.

  2. Glad you stopped by Habitat 67!
    There are huge waves for whitewater kayaking in Montreal, it’s call the “Big Joe”.

    Enjoy!

  3. Great piece on the sport of river surfing — thanks so much for sharing! Check out riverbreak.com and connect with the global river surfing community, find new river surfing spots, gear, videos and commentary!

  4. This hard to believe that there is such a cool place to surf in Montreal. thank you very much for sharing the info. Future plan to get there only for surfing.

  5. When I think of Montreal, I usually think smoked meat and bagels. I’m Canadian and I’ve never considered surfing in Montreal! That’s so cool. Out here on the west coast, Tofino gets all the surfing love. Great post :)

  6. Hi!
    Great read :) I’m staying in Montreal for 3 months and did not know that I would be able to do this! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hey Matthew, fantastic write up as usual. As someone who has never surfed before any basic tips on how to get involved in the action?

    • Definitely take some lessons first Tez. I made the mistake of trying to learn on my own in Hawaii, and got nowhere fast. It looks a lot easier than it is, and learning from a good instructor for a few days is the best investment you can make. Even then, it takes a lot of practice to get the hang of it. Good luck!

  8. Matthew, I must own whatever camera it is that you use. Your pictures are always so great.

    Anyway I’ve never tried surfing. I’d like to try it, but I doubt I’d be any good at it :-P

    • Thanks Zascha! But it’s really practice, not the camera. I could get most of these images with any camera. Check out some photography & post processing tutorials online! You should try surfing one day, it’s a lot of fun, and gets even more fun (read: addicting) the more you do it.

  9. Hello from Montreal! I’m not a surfer, so never tried those waves, but I enjoyed the picture of Habitat 67 ! It’s such a cool piece of real estate!

  10. I remember reading about river surfing in Munich a while back and thought it sounded so cool. This sounds similarly awesome! (Though I’m quite sure I’d be awful at it – so I’ll leave the river surfing to you!)

    • Everyone is awful at river surfing the first time, even other surfers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try Amanda! It’s fun even if you don’t stand up right away.

  11. What! I’m from Ottawa about two hours away and have been to Montreal like 10 times, but never heard of this! Something to look into next time I’m home.

    • Check it out Elliott, river surfing is super fun! Not many places in the world where you can do this either.

  12. If I may share my view as a regular reader of yours, I agree that the influence of advertising in your posts has become much more explicit than it historically was. To your credit, you have been transparent about this.

    Balancing earning an income with the expectations of the the audience that makes that income possible is challenging. While you experiment with this, I think we hope you don’t lose touch with your style and the apparent premise that has driving your blogging in the past.

    Congratulations on monetizing your blog. :)

    • Hey Yok, thanks for sharing your opinion. That’s the key isn’t it, a balance. I’d like to keep both readers and advertisers happy.

  13. Is this awkward advertising for a random drink without relation to travel, or a genuine post about a cool surfing adventure in Montreal? Love your adventures, but can’t really figure it out anymore? :-P

    • It’s a genuine post about a cool surfing adventure, sponsored by a company that makes cool drinks. A partnership with Cayman Jack — as spelled out within the article & disclaimer. You can learn more about my partnership with them here.

      You can learn about brand ambassadors here.

  14. Hey man. I’ve never heard of Cayman Jack. It’s it a regional drink or something you can grab pretty much anywhere?