Learn all about the things that make waves work. The better you understand the ocean, conditions, and what’s under the water, the better a surfer you’ll be.


Quick answers to some of the most common questions about waves and ocean conditions.

How are waves formed?

Waves are formed by wind. Learn all about wind and swells here.

How do you know when the surf will be good?

You’ll get better at knowing when the surf will be good as you become more familiar with a certain spot. There’s lots of factors, but a good place to start is finding some good forecasting tools. Compare forecasting tools for surf spots near you.

How do you measure a wave?

For surfing, wave height is typically measured as the surfable face of the wave and generally given in relation to the body of an averaged-sized surfer.

How does Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch work?

Waves at the Surf Ranch are created by a hydrofoil-like device that’s pulled along a track. It plows through the water and creates the wave. Learn more about wave pools.

Should you surf after it rains?

In most developed coastal areas, you should avoid surfing during and after a rain. High levels of bacteria and nasty run-off makes its way into the ocean and increases your chance of contracting something. Learn more about water quality and events like Red Tide.

What are the best tides for surfing?

The best tides for surfing are totally dependent on the characteristics of the particular spot and the height of the tide. Some spots work better on a low tide, others on a high tide, and some in between.

What are the different types of surf breaks?

The 3 main types of surf breaks include beachbreaks, reef breaks, and point breaks.

When is the best time to surf?

Best time to surf is whenever there’s fun waves to be had. Dawn patrol, or early morning, tends to offer light winds, glassy water, and low crowds. Surfing around sunset can make for some clean conditions as well. The best seasons for surfing are going to depend where you are in the world.

Why do people surf near piers?

Man-made structures like piers, jetties, and breakwaters act to influence the shape of incoming waves. Waves that break off things like jetties or piers tend to have a predictable consistent form to them.


Explore a variety of surf spots near you. Find out the best conditions, characteristics of the wave, and compare forecasts.

California // East Coast

Florida // Great Lakes

Hawaii // New England

New Jersey // New York

Pacific Northwest // Texas

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