We dispensed with the extra sand and volcanic ash protection and with the strong warnings not to go off road, we headed north.
Apart from the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland is still pretty unknown and unexplored, but with some helpful tips from local photographer Elli, Ingo from Arctic Surfers and a few friends from home, we set off for the part called the Westfjords.
It is a remote peninsula in the far north whose villages are regularly cut off from the outside world during snowstorms and whose large bays are inaccessible by road. A boat or a pair of sturdy boots are the only way to get there.
On the first night, we set up camp in the headlights and woke up first thing on light to a breathtaking view. A quick coffee to take in the beauty before we set off. 4 hours of gravel road awaited us. The wind howled, mini gravel bars lined up with fjords and our minds wandered. We stopped at a huge, empty hotel to refuel and sank into the heated outdoor pool.
We flipped a coin as to which fjord would be best (one seemed more open - bigger, windier - the other more sheltered - smaller, cleaner) and set off over the mountains and around the fjords. When we reached the top and looked down on the bay, it was a phenomenal moment. The path meandered along a river that foamed and crashed into the sea, forming a perfect sandbank.
We saw the spray off the coast and the poor little car went seaward and bounced down the track.
The end of the road, as we call it, was deceptively small, but as the tide and swell came in, it grew, and soon Noah was paddling out through the crazy offshores to the overhead barrels that slammed down the shore. The next morning we surfed again and watched as the swell subsided. We sank back as the northern lights danced and made a plan to move on.
Down south we found a real spot, met friends and watched a small low develop... we picked a river mouth with great potential and set up camp for the night. We called it Camp Disappointment - the waves didn't come, but it was anything but. When the campfire was lit, the northern lights danced and dazzled us as we walked around stalling for time and taking photos until the early hours of the morning when the whisky and batteries ran low.
Iceland is a special place, constantly evolving as the volcanoes spew their guts. The lava reefs are not yet as developed as in the Canary Islands, but in a few thousand years, when the ocean works its magic, a visit might find a new El Quemao and more spots running. But for now, chasing real, unsurfed waves is a big part of the fun in Iceland. Unless, of course, you're a rental.