Before you surf, do your research
Words: Corinne Evans
The thought of surfing new waves can be an exciting thought but for some, the idea of trying a new break can be an extremely daunting prospect. It’s completely normal to have this fear but we want to help you turn that fear into excitement and get your amped for surfing some new waves.
It’s always nice to feel prepared and know exactly what kind of surf you’re in for and there’s nothing wrong with getting organised for your surf adventure. Whether you’re staying close to home and plan to surf a new local break or you’re jumping on a boat or plane, crossing oceans to test out a new break our advice will always be the same…do your research.
Here’s what we think you should find out before you set off on the surf trip.
What types of waves are there?
The more information you have about the breaks you’ll be surfing the more prepared you can become. You can also then decided which breaks will suit your ability. You need to find out what waves are in the area and whether they break over coral reef, rock reef or sand. Knowing this information can help you find the right surf break for you. Reef and rocky breaks aren’t suitable for beginner surfers so if you’re new to surfing or not confident in the water you will want to stick to beach breaks.
Are there surf schools in the area?
It’s always a good idea to have a surf lesson, especially if you’re a complete beginner. There are surf schools and camps all over the world and most popular surfing destinations will have a surf school associated with it. Find out if there are any schools in the area whilst you plan to visit and book a lesson. The surf coaches will teach you all you need to know about the break and give you the confidence to get in the surf at a new break.
Are the beaches lifeguarded?
If you’re surfing in the UK most beaches will be lifeguarded but it’s still important to find out which beaches have lifeguard cover. The RNLI website can tell you exactly which beaches in the area are patrolled. This way you can make a decision on where to go to suit your ability in the water.
When travelling abroad the lifeguard situation can become trickier. Due to the increase in popularity of the sport more tropical destinations do have lifeguard cover but it’s still quite few and far between. When you arrive in the area, ask around. Local people will know whether the beaches have lifeguards and if they don’t have safety cover there’s all the more reason to ask even more questions about the hazards and areas to avoid on the beach.
What time of wave will you be surfing?
If you’re a more advanced surfer and feel confident in the water it’s still good to find out what types of waves are in the area. This way you can decide what boards to take and can get fully prepared for surfing over a sharp reef or sandy beach break.
What’s the swell doing?
Checking the charts before you go is really important. You can plan the right time to surf and decided which surf spot will work best on the conditions forecast. There are lots of forecasting websites out there to give the surf spot a Google and see what the waves are looking like.
What tide does the break work best on?
Waves are greatly altered by tides and finding out what stage of the tide the wave works best at can ensure you get the best waves of the day. Low tides on a reef break are notorious for being faster, more hollow and shallow. If this is what you’re after then great but if you want something a little less intimidating aim to go in on a pushing tide. Every break is different and has its own quirks so be sure to ask a local and do your research on the area, even watch videos and look and photos.
What’s the crowd situation like?
Trying to avoid big crowds is pretty much what every surfer spends there time doing. Having to hassle for waves can often leave you feeling a little deflated after a surf. This is where local knowledge comes in to play and where the surfers who do their research often triumph. Look at maps of the area and explore, drive around for a little before deciding where to surf. It’s always good to keep your options open especially when it’s in the pursuit of a perfect uncrowned wave.