Fitness: Surf's Up

Why Surfing the Oregon Coast Is So Addictive

Alex Morris, a longtime surfer and owner of Portland's Cosube surf shop, breaks it down.

By Rebecca Jacobson December 28, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Short Sands Beach

Raised in Portland, Alex Morris grew up surfing the Oregon Coast. Now he owns Cosube (Coffee Surf Beer), a surf shop on NE MLK, and spends his time convincing more Portlanders to join the swell.

How does surfing the Oregon Coast compare to other destinations?

You’re by yourself a lot of the time, which is different than Southern California. It’s such a raw feeling. I was in San Diego for a few years, where it’s just pavement, sand, water. In Oregon, there’s mountains and forests and huge rocks. That’s pretty addictive.

What about the cold?
The advancement of wetsuit technology has changed the game. It is laughable how freezing cold I was as a kid and through the ’90s. The first suit I got was so thick and inflexible and hard to paddle in, and it was instantly porous. All it did was make it tolerable enough to be in the water for an hour or two. Now the suits are warmer and thinner, and the flexibility and stretch are better.

Where do you send newbies?

We send everyone to Short Sands Beach. It’s a huge cove and really beginner-friendly. Eighty percent of the time, it’s my default location, too. It’s a good wave.

I hear surfers can be pretty secretive about their favorite spots.

Oregon is never going to be like Southern California. The population center is too far off the coast, and it is cold. If you want to surf by yourself, go one minute in either direction from the three main surf spots. People get bent out of shape if you divulge a secret spot, but I think everyone should just relax.

What’s something people don’t realize about surfing?

The difference from snowboarding or skiing is that once you buy a wetsuit and a surfboard, it’s always free. You never have to drop $90 on a lift ticket.

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