It’s November, and temperatures in British Columbia are plunging. But that didn't deter a small group of surfers in the popular resort town of Tofino.
In fact, it’s why they came.
“On a day like today, it's incredibly beautiful out there,” surf student Sophie Ralston told The Weather Network. The temperature that day? 6°C.
But according to Cindy Hutchinson, another surf student, it's not so bad.
“Once you have all the gear on and you’re out there paddling your little heart out, you’re toasty warm,” she said.
Ralston and Hutchinson are among a growing number of surfing enthusiasts drawn to the west coast of Vancouver Island, even in the winter.
“People are catching on that if you get a good wet suit, you can come up in the winter and get some good waves,” said Hannah Stevenson, manager and instructor at Pacific Surf School.
“Year after year we notice winters are getting busier. We get people out on New Year’s Day, Christmas Day. (To) come out with your family and go out for a surf, it's a little bit of a novelty.”
The island routinely gets blasted by winter storms that whip up huge 20-to-30-foot swells -- perfect conditions for surfers.
The water temperature during the winter months averages about 8°C -- cold enough to lead to hypothermia with prolonged exposure. But the surfers come equipped with thick neoprene suits, gloves, hats and booties.
Surfers are urged to check swell reports and weather forecasts before heading out and be vigilant on the water, as conditions can change in a matter of minutes.
But besides the weather, there are few hazards in the area. Tofino beaches have sandy, flat bottoms -- perfect cushioning for beginners and experts alike.
With files from Alexandra Pope