Humans versus nature on Norway’s frigid coastline.
Out here, the sea reigns supreme—winds that carve lines into your face and waves that spit you out, shivering. And one look into the sage eyes of a local tells you there’s no reworking this equation. But some live to defy traditions of caution, and surf culture on the rugged, western coast of Norway is alive and well.
Sometimes you should listen to elders. Like when the sand comes flying off the beach at you with such force that retreat is the only option. Or when you’ve paddled out alone, only to be caught in a blizzard at sea. And the day after, when the ocean lies calm, almost as if laughing at you and your flimsy board. But some days, it’s pure perfection—like there’s nowhere else in the world you should be. Living these kinds of conditions is what makes surfing here such an experience. It’s not always the best idea to paddle out. It’s not about being cool here; it’s not even about being good. It’s about human versus nature. This is Norwegian surfing.
The town of Alesund is five islands that are connected by underwater tunnels and bridges, and on the furthest island is a small secluded beach at the foot of a mountain. The mountain provides some shelter from the weather but also makes a beautiful backdrop. It’s all about the weather and ocean here. Fishing is big, both commercially and recreationally.
The surf community is small and welcoming. It consists of a core of local surfers led by Rune, who was one of the "original three". He and two friends had this place all to themselves during the 90s, and on big days he can be seen catching more waves than any young gun out there. And then we have the "imports". A few guys from Australia, Blake Sands from the Bahamas, and me, from Stockholm, Sweden. We’re all far from where we came, but so close to finding home. It’s a very positive vibe out there, everybody is together in the experience.
I come from a city. Living the city life, doing the city thing, but always longing for something else. Like many other imports, I came here for girl. I quit my job in Stockholm and moved here to get a second chance. But I knew it was more than that when I saw the fjords; they drew me in and never let go. I wanted to dig deeper. I was longing for something other than the ordinary. And that longing kept me here.
It’s good to be worked every now and then. It keeps you young. Or at least it keeps you from growing old.
I love swimming in the water with my camera and seeing Blake of the Bahamas out there surfing in a thick wetsuit and a huge grin on his face. This is a long way from board shorts and long sandy beaches, but you wouldn't know that by watching him surf the local break, dancing on the waves.
But I do believe that the most important moments are the ones in between the photographs you take. I feel that living somewhere extraordinary like this gives me the energy and inspiration to venture out and search for situations where nature works man, in a way.
I was afraid of water as a child and I have never been comfortable in the ocean. So I started freediving as a way of pushing myself into this scary place where you have to keep calm even when things seem to crush down on you. In many ways, this journey to Norway is how I continue to face that fear.
And now when I'm out swimming in the surf and the waves are crashing over me and boards are going by my head, while my fingers are getting frost bitten and my lips are numb, I can still be in the moment and relax my mind enough to enjoy every last second of it. I would not want to be anywhere else.
It is not always perfect. Not always what you want it to be, when you want it to. But it is always interesting. Always wild. And sometimes magical.
This is home.