Iraq has long been in the international spotlight for very unpleasant reasons. But, there is at least one reason to see this ancient country in a positive light. Iraq is a great surfing destination! Surfing in Iraq is growing increasingly popular as more and more people learn of the great beaches and awesome waves. Don’t expect to get the same waves you would surfing at a Cornwall Surfing School, but you’ll find that Iraq ranks right up there with some of the best surfing experiences.
Iraq doesn’t have much coastline, and what it does have is in the Persian Gulf. But, what a coastline it is! This is a beautiful beach, and about twice a year, you will find unbelievable surf. The regular weather does not stir up much in the way of surf, and waves are pretty tame most of the time. But, watch the weather reports, and keep your passport handy, because when storms pass over the Persian Gulf from the Indian Ocean, you are in for a great ride. The Arabian Sea is also a great source for weather patterns that can create great surf off the Iraqi coast.
These weather systems from the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea will often sit on the Iraqi coast for days. Even Bahrain will find that it has decent waves, along with Western Iran and Qatar. Kuwait, which has most of the coastline on the northwestern side of the gulf, will also have some great surfing opportunities.
Sure, you hear about the sandstorms in this part of the world, and men and women serving in the military have watched the beach change shape often. But, while Qatar is getting a tremendous sandstorm, you may find terrific waves in Iraq.
There are the great surfing opportunities in Iraq, and then there are the rare waves that give you a shot at greatness. This part of the harbor is dredged regularly, and sometimes the Al Faw Peninsula will peel off a sliding left hander. Some surfers consider it worth the effort to be there when the weather is right, just to cash in on such an opportunity.
Typically, the Al Faw Peninsula will have great learners waves, with swells tending toward the southeast. You can count on an average 2 metre swell off this coastline, with a NW wind. The Peninsula is one of the top rated surfing spots in this area.
You’ll have a little extra preparation if you plan to surf in Iraq. Remember, there is more than just beach sand to contend with. Go prepared to protect all of your electronics, including your camera and phone, from the ever-present sand. You’ll also want to pack plenty of drinking water. Keep the items you use regularly in a backpack or day bag so that you can have it handy at the beach. It pays to take snacks with you, too, to refuel for the next wave.