The Turnagain Arm Bore is mesmerising, and surfing it on a stand-up-paddle board at sunrise may be the most soulful way to start the day imaginable
Tidal bore waves are a special combination of the best aspects of standing river waves and normal ocean surf: they offer the feeling of movement and travel you can experience in the surf, but rides can last for minutes or hours rather than seconds. They’re formed by the leading edge of an incoming tide, which often travels up a river or narrow bay against the usual current.
While all tidal bores are mesmerising to watch, they vary in size speed and power. Some of the best known are the Severn Bore in the UK, Pororoca on the Amazon river in Brazil (which has been known to travel up to 800km inland!), and here at Turnagain Arm in Alaska. The biggest bore in the world occurs on the Qiantang River in China, were waves up to 9 meters high and traveling at a speed 25 mp/h have been recorded!
This is “Surfing Alaska: Turnagain Arm” by swnsn on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.
The bore in the video is the Turnagain Arm bore in Alaska. Turnagain Arm is one of two narrow waterways at the north end of Cook Inlet, which reaches into the Gulf of Alaska near Anchorage (the other is the Knik Arm); it was named by William Bligh, Cook’s sailing master aboard the HMS Bounty, after having to turn around again following mistaking both arms for rivers when searching for the opening of the Northwest Passage.
Turnagain Arm is around 45 miles long, extending in an east-west direction into the Kenai Peninsula. It features the largest tidal range in the US at up to 12 meters (the second largest in North America after the Bay of Fundy, which has the greatest tidal range in the world). The waves from the Turnagain bore can grow to around 2 metres high and reach speeds of 15 miles per hour, greatest a few days either side of the full moon.