By Michelle Degn
(feature photo: VisitDenmark)
At first glance you wouldn’t think that Hawaii and the Danish city of Klitmøller would have anything in common. Hawaii is known for its warm and sunny days, whereas the average temperature in Denmark is 7.7 ℃. But the two distant places do have one thing that connects them: both share the same special wind conditions, creating plenty of waves and making them the true surfing paradises that they are. So, if you are looking for a great surf spot for either windsurfing or surfboarding, you don’t need to travel far to find it. Klitmøller, or ‘Cold Hawaii’ as it is known, is one of the best surf spots in all of Europe.
The story of Cold Hawaii
Cold Hawaii is the name of the 31 registered surf spots that exist on the west coast in Thy in Northern Jutland – from Agger Tange in the south to Hanstholm in the north. But the city of Klitmøller is most famously known as the best place to “catch the wave”. Around 1600, Klitmøller was recognised for the trade of ships to southern Norway, but around the 1980s, the great surf spots became the area’s primary grounds for recognition.
Rumours say that the area was first discovered in 1981 by Christian Drach, a German who was brother to the well-known windsurfer, Jurgen Drach. Christian Drach was about to sail from Hanstholm to Norway with the ferry, but was prevented due to bad weather. Instead of waiting, he chose to drive to the fishing village of Klitmøller in search of a good place to windsurf. Surprisingly, he found a fantastic spot to surf. That was the beginning of Cold Hawaii.
Klitmøller is said to have became a celebrated surfing city soon after, and many other surfers made their way to the village to test the waves. Many of them actually decided to settle down in the area in the 1990’s, which was the beginning of a small surfer’s colony. Little by little, the place evolved, and in 2005, a ‘Master Plan’ called ‘Building the Cold Hawaii’ was created by the local surf club and some local visionaries to integrate surfing into the community. This plan did indeed succeed, as Cold Hawaii became the true surfing paradise that it is today.
Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup
Cold Hawaii has come a long way since the beginning of the 1980’s, and since 2010 Klitmøller has hosted the international windsurfing championship, Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup. Every year, 32 of the best male windsurfers in the world gather in Klitmøller and compete for the title of World Champion. The event is one in a series of competitions and disciplines held worldwide as a part of the Professional World Cup, and it is the ultimate windsurfing competition.
Klitmøller has been chosen as the spot to hold this event because, for the last 20 years, this area has been the best place for windsurfing in most of northern Europe. The interest in the competition is great, and even HRH Crown Prince Frederik is involved, as patron of the event. You can find out more about the annual competition here.
Surf camps and courses: Learn how to catch the wave
Surfing is not only for the professionals – many who are new to the surfing experience can also learn at Cold Hawaii. One way to get involved in surfboarding is by joining the Cold Hawaii Surf Camp. The camp is ideal for families, kids, couples or individuals, offering various different camps ranging from a day to a week.
If you have less time, another way to get a taste of surfing is by taking a shorter surfing lesson. Alternatively, you can rent surf gear and learn on your own. So, whether you want to receive help from instructors or take matters into your own hands, Klitmøller offers it all.
The culture of Cold Hawaii – surfing festivals and national parks
A big part of Cold Hawaii now revolves around surfing and the culture that this sport brings to the place. This is especially seen in Klitmøller, where there are surf shops, surf rentals and surf schools.
One of the most unique events that is held here, besides the PWA World Cup, is the surfing festival called Surfjoint. This festival is organised every year by the city’s surf club NASA (North Atlantic Surf Association), and it is visited by more than 1000 people from all over Northern Europe. Focus is put not only on free surf lessons and international competing within windsurfing, kite surfing and paddle surfing, it is also put on concerts, a surf-film festival, open air BBQ and much more. By participating in this festival, you really get to enjoy and appreciate the surfing culture in the area.
Even if you are not that into surfing, Cold Hawaii offers many more activities throughout the year. Turning your eyes away from the sea and towards the land, you will see the beautiful nature that you are surrounded by. And with Thy National Park as the next-door neighbour, you are guaranteed to get some great experiences. Hiking, cycling, fishing and horseback-riding are just some of the many activities. Either way, Cold Hawaii and its surroundings is a place worth a visit. You can read more about Thy National Park here:
The surfer verdict
I spoke with Mor Meluka and Vahineura Itchner, who are both living in Cold Hawaii and spend a lot of time surfing here, to get their view of the place and the sport and really understand what the hype is all about. Meluka, 30, is the Danish surfing champion for 2015-2016, the Danish stand-up paddle-boarding champion for 2016 and the current coach of the Danish national surf team. Itchner, 35, is the Danish female surf champion for 2014-2015. Both moved to Cold Hawaii because of the great surfing conditions, and together they formed the Cold Hawaii Surf Camp.
When asked why they get so much joy out of surfing, and why they chose this sport instead of the more conventional sports in Denmark such as handball or soccer, Meluka and Itchner emphasised that “surfing is freedom, is happiness, is well-being, is exploring. You can do it alone, with friends and anywhere in the world, whenever you want. We spend our lives surfing, meaning every moment; while working, during free time and while taking important life decisions.” Hence, surfing is not just a sport to them, but a life choice.
Precisely because surfing means so much to them, Meluka and Itchner decided to move to a place where the surfing conditions were good, and where surfing was an important part of society – hence, they decided to move to Klitmøller. “We both surfed all of our lives, and when moving to a new place, the first rule is to be able to surf. So it was an easy choice.”
For them, Cold Hawaii lives up to the reputation of being a surfing paradise. “The variety of good waves for beginner and amateur surfers is very high within a small area. That is what creates the hype.” And you don’t have to wait around for summer to hop on your board and ride the waves – as they both say, “with the right wetsuits we surf all year round.”
Meluka and Itchner are not the only ones who have discovered the hidden treasures of Cold Hawaii. Many people come to visit Klitmøller to get the full surfing experience, for example at Cold Hawaii Surf Camp. “For a small town like Klitmøller, there are a lot of tourists. We offer them surfing experiences as Scandinavia’s biggest and most professional surf and stand-up paddle-boarding school. Mor is the Danish champion both in paddle-boarding and surfboarding, as well as the coach of the Danish national surfboarding team.” And though surfing is the most popular activity here, Klitmøller does have more to offer. Other things that Meluka and Itchner take pleasure in are “nature, cycling, walking, golf and a lot of peace.”
Meluka and Itchner confirm the hype about Cold Hawaii and surfing. According to them, surfing is a unique sport, and Cold Hawaii is the ideal place for surfers to be. Whether you are a professional like Meluka and Itchner, or a complete beginner, Cold Hawaii is a great place to surf. So even though the temperatures in Denmark are not as high as in Hawaii, Cold Hawaii definitely makes up for it in the surfing area, and will always be a true surfing paradise.