Surfing in Juneau
Thought you were out of luck catching waves in Juneau? Think again.
The alert surfer can catch some fun waves in the winter. Of course you won’t find any groundswell, but when there are winds over 30 knots, keep an eye out for ridable wind swell. Some fun breaks have been explored “out the road” on strong north winds. Last winter we found some fun beachbreaks at Lena and Eagle Beaches, and a pretty fun point break at the Shrine. Watch the weather forecast for winds in Northern Lynn predicted above 30 knots. Then check the actual observations at National Weather Service Observations: Juneau, AK, and when you see winds recorded at Eldred Rock above 38 knots and north winds at Pt. Retreat 30 knots or above, get your suit and board, and head out.
These strong north winds generally occur in the winter, so temperatures are usually cold. Hooded wetsuits (5mm) are usually warm enough until water temps get below 40 degrees and air temps into the ‘teens. By late December, 6mm wetsuits are the way to go. And 7mm booties and 5mm gloves are a must. Dress like this and you’ll be nice and toasty.
Since surfing in Juneau is a winter activity, there aren’t many takers. Until demand calls for it, the only rental boards we have available are 9’ 5” epoxy noseriders (Takayama In-The-Pink high performance). If demand calls for it, more boards will be available.
|Rental Schedule||Rental Period||Price|
|Surfboard Rental||Full Day||$40.00|
|Hooded Full Suit Rental
Includes boots and gloves
Lena Beach is a fun beach break. Surf on a low tide below +6 ft. At extreme low tide you can connect outside sections to the inside for relatively long rides (in Juneau terms). Waves are soft (rounded) and good for beginners, but fun for all levels. It can break right or left depending which peak you’re on. If the size is there, when the tide approaches +6' the faces get more critical and can be fun, short rides for advanced surfers on the inside. We’ve seen everything from ankle slappers to head high faces.
Shrine of St. Thomas
“The Shrine” is the only point break we’ve found so far and primarily because of the rocks, is recommended for intermediate surfers or better. This break works best on mid-to-high tide between +11' to +14'. The break is on the south side of the point where the shrine is located and can be quite protected from the north winds. Depending on the tide and wave size, the take-off point may be right next to the rocks.
When it’s working, the inside section at the shrine is the fastest wave we’ve discovered so far. It can be clean, chest high and very fun. However, the sea lions can get pretty curious and aggressive so you have to keep an eye on them. We’ve seen overhead waves here. The paddle out is easy.
Eagle Beach is more exposed to Lynn Canal so if winds are lighter this may be the only place breaking. In higher winds, it may be too blown out for good surf. Eagle Beach works best on a low tide below +6'. Head to the kayak launch site north of the beach park. There’s a nice peak just offshore at the launch parking lot. The rights look nice but usually end up soft and dying out. The lefts usually hold up better as they break towards the beach. Low tide means walking out over the barnacle covered rocks to reach the water so you’ll need booties with strong soles.
We know there are other locations that break in Juneau and we’ll continue to explore them. We’re particularly interested in finding breaks that work on S and SE winds to open up summer surfing.
Of course, there’s great surf on the outer Gulf coast. If there’s enough interest (4-6 surfers) we’ll organize boat or float plane trip for a day of surf or exploration.