photo blog

5 Most Photogenic Surf Spots

According to SURFER photographer Chris Burkard

| posted on March 25, 2014

While most surf photographers stick to popular warm-water paradises, SURFER Photographer Chris Burkard has taken a different path. By focusing on eccentric landscapes mixed with surf action, Burkard’s images of wild, remote, and often cold-water destinations don’t fit the standard mold, and they always stun the viewer. We caught up with the perpetually traveling Burkard somewhere in Iceland to find out which five surf spots he considers the most photogenic in the world.

Alex Gray, standing out against a snow-capped volcano. Photo: Burkard

Alex Gray, standing out against a snow-capped volcano. Photo: Burkard

Aleutian Islands, Alaska
A majority of the year, this inhospitable island chain is plagued by bad weather, but when the conditions come together, it is nature’s masterpiece. With no paved roads, the only way Pete Devries, Alex Gray, Josh Mulcoy, Ben Weiland, and I were able to get around was on ATVs. After trekking for hours through some of the most untouched land, it’s a surreal feeling to stumble upon barreling slab after barreling slab. Part of why I love traveling to such remote destinations is it makes nature the star of the images, and the surfers become small objects within the beauty that surrounds them. And the fact that the Aleutians seem to only produce perfect, barreling reefs definitely adds to its photogenic qualities.

WATCH: The Cradle of Storms Trailer


Calling this a “stereotypical perfect wave” might be an understatement. Photo: Burkard

Calling this a “stereotypical perfect wave” might be an understatement. Photo: Burkard

Caribbean
Despite how fickle this area can be, there seem to be countless setups that offer the stereotypical perfect wave. The warm, blue water mixed with only a handful of guys out makes surfing this wave seem as if you are cheating the system. I don’t often chase warm-water surf, but the way each empty, perfect wave here breaks more photogenic than the last, I am always drawn back.

WATCH: Mirage of the Caribbean


One angle of many to shoot the pride and joy of Basque Country from. Photo: Burkard

One angle of many to shoot the pride and joy of Basque Country from. Photo: Burkard

Mundaka, Spain
Besides how good this wave gets, what really makes it so photogenic is its context within the village. The locals have a lot of pride in their surfers and the wave, creating a place that seems to transcend time. I traveled here with Peter Mendia, whose family is from the region, and we had no set list of things to shoot. Instead, we spent a week and half staying with local families in old farmhouses and chasing swell. Normally a wave that’s highly dependent on tide and sandbars like Mundaka is can be difficult to shoot, but there are so many angles that make it surprisingly photogenic.

WATCH: The Acero Brothers


Not the most inviting of surf spots, but photogenic nonetheless. Photo: Burkard

Not the most inviting of surf spots, but photogenic nonetheless. Photo: Burkard

Lofoten Islands, Norway
The waves Dane Gudauskas, Keith Malloy, and I found here far exceeded our expectations. With snow-covered mountain peaks greeting perfect waves below, this is one of the most dramatic landscapes I’ve encountered. Dane and Keith were troopers, surfing through blizzards and freezing temperatures.

WATCH: Distant Shores


Sometimes you don't need to travel halfway across the world to find perfection. Photo: Burkard

Sometimes you don’t need to travel halfway across the world to find perfection. Photo: Burkard

Central California
I love searching for waves in foreign countries, but there’s something particularly special about finding beauty just miles from my home. Along this stretch of coastline, the variety of waves ranges from perfect points to novelty reef slabs that rarely break. When those perfect offshore conditions align with the right swell, it makes for some of the best-looking waves. Even after spending more time shooting photos here than anywhere else in the world, the waves continue to surprise me year after year.

PHOTOS: California Gold

  • Éder Kras Medeiros

    doido

  • Frank Martin

    These pictures show the most photogenic surf spots I have ever seen. There are 7 days left in the calendar month, and then it is April fools day. In real estate, this is the amount of time that landlords give a month-to-month tenant notice to vacate. In the real estate market there are hotels and condominiums, the fact the one on Mundaka is interesting to this article. The channel inbetween the sandbar and shoreline show current like I have never witnessed. First hand knowledge for the locals keen for surf don’t really translate into common knowledge for those on a soujurn. The hotel coincidentally, is located right on the shore. For the riparian entreprenuer, permission implied to the guest that surfs allows for ingress much like that of a public shoreline event. It goes without saying that equipment may have to be left outside the front door. In the spririt of the warfs fisherman and transient accomidators that use such entrances for surfing or disembarkation from a ship, there must be national autocratic ideology to use such a right. Therefore, which gives right-of-way, the lament surfboard rider or the skipper of the ship? I think for those in service related industries that work for tips, its better to let a skipper give way to the surfer and swimmer that might need a pfd. In making way across the channel, signs and placards for bathers a affixed to adjacent church property where cathedral services are open for worship in probably the next 7-10 fascist, working days.

    • garrett

      what the hell does all this mean?

    • ThatDank

      i cant believe 14 people read that

    • Chris

      What?

    • matt

      What are you talking about?

    • Richie Perez

      WHAT?

    • JM101

      Owwww my brain…

    • Mik

      Never underestimate the damage that drug use can inflict on human psychophysiology

    • iamLittleone

      All you “need are some tasty waves, cool buzz and {your} fine??”

    • matteo

      hey Frank, too much acid, you need help

  • SCDave

    Great work. Looks like you love your job.

  • Tom Schick

    We let our videography tell our story… in Maui at – http://www.116pulelehua.com

  • Dansnuts

    I agree completely Frank Martin.

  • K-Fed

    Is Cradle of Storms out yet?

  • http://www.1worldsarongs.com Sandy Beech

    Insanely gorgeous…makes me wanna surf!

  • Euskogurariok

    MUNDAKAlakorik ez dago txooooooooo

  • RWSURF

    There’s only one surf spot on the list. The others are just general areas.

  • deesnuts

    WTF Frank Martin! Go catch a wave already.

  • rachelle

    Have you checked San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua? Epic! We stayed here http://ranchochilamate.com