The best place to learn how to surf is the sea, of course, but when you live in a city where there is no sea, you got to deal with what you have. What we have here is river surfing.

To facilitate your progression on Montreal’s river waves, here are 7 tips that will help you better understand this particular type of surfing. Have a good session !

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

1. Start off at La Vague at Guy

There is two major river waves in the Montreal area : La Vague à Guy and Habitat 67. According to several local surfers and KSF surf school, visiting La Vague à Guy first is a great way to get used to river surfing. With its smaller wave and mellow rapids, La Vague à Guy is the ideal place to get used to your board, improve your balance and, if you already know how to surf, to improve your technique before your next surf trip.

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

2. Make sure you are comfortable with moving water

A river wave means you’re going to have to swim in fast moving water for a while. Knowing how to swim is essential for all types of surfing, of course, but the difference with river surfing is that there is no down time between waves. The wave remains constant and the rapids too. It may seem obvious, but it is important be prepared before venturing into fast moving water. Know the latest water flow level, eat a banana before the session, stay hydrated and everything should be good.

Photo by Mike Hitelman  @instamikeagram

Courtesy of KSF @ksf_montréal

3. Have the right equipment

Wet suit :

Montreal water can go from warm to arctic within a week, so always take a look at the weather and dress accordingly. The best option is the 4/3 wetsuit. It will allow you to surf through the colder season and will be also be perfect for all your East Coast surf trips. When the water temperature becomes warm enough, just go in boardshorts. And for extra style points, avoid wearing boardshorts over your wetsuit. :)

Booties and gloves :

Many people go to the wave for the first time and remain barefoot. Unfortunately, they often regret it... River waves rocky bottoms are not really feet friendly. That’s why we strongly suggest you bring booties or water shoes to the wave to avoid cuts or scratches. As for gloves, we recommend that you own a pair of in case you would like to hit the river wave during the cold season.


Long surf boards don’t really perform well in rivers, so we suggest you use a surf that is less than 7 feet long, but that can also float well. A board with a wider nose can also make your session way easier. A Fish type of board will do the trick perfectly.

Photo by Mike Hitelman  @instamikeagram

Courtesy of KSF @ksf_montréal

4. Take time to warm up

Believe us, your session at the river wave can be very physically demanding, and will be much more enjoyable once your muscles are warmed up. In addition, it is a great way to spend time waiting for your turn on the shore of the wave. Use that warmup time to watch the experimented surfers in action and take notes.

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

5. Study experimented surfer’s technique

To appreciate river surfing to the fullest, you will have to find the famous "sweet spot". The place where you have to go in order to get up on your board. Take some time to check out the locals, it will give you a better understanding of the process you will soon have to go through.

 Once you enter the water, you have to let yourself drift towards the wave by aiming at said sweet spot. Once a few meters separates from your point of pop-up, paddle to slow down your drift. Get on the wave, hit the sweet spot, get up and enjoy ! Once your turn is over, drift towards the edge of the water, walk back to the starting point, wait for your next turn and start over again.

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

6. Respect other surfers

It may seem obvious, but people who go river surfing need to know the basic rules. Basically, don’t be an asshole to the people that were there before you. Wait for your turn to hit the wave and once you had a good ride on it, let someone else step in. If you want to win the surfers respect, but don’t know the rules, don’t hesitate to ask someone. River surfers are usually nice people if you are too. Don’t be scared to talk to them, they might even hook you up with their personnal river surfing tips and tricks.

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

7. Have fun!

Above all, surfing should be a source of pleasure and not frustration. You’ll see, your session will be much better if you understand and respect the primary purpose of surfing: To have a good time. Plus, nobody likes to surf with someone that looks bummed.

Photo Credit: Sludgesoda

We look forward to seeing you on the wave!