What are we… I mean. We appear to watching the ocean.Rick Kane, North Shore (1987)
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.
How do Waves Work?
Learning how to read a surf forecast and understanding conditions is key to scoring your best waves. This is the surf forecasting guide you’ve been looking for.
Wondering how waves are created? Wave Arcade has you covered. Find out everything you need to know about waves from how they form to how the break.
The local characteristics of a spot have a huge influence over how a wave breaks. Different waves are more suited for certain types of surfing and certain boards. Learn all about the different types of breaks and waves.
Depending on where you live, the tide will change throughout the day and throughout the year. You’ll want to understand how the different tide levels affect your local spots to know where to go.
The time of year will have an affect on the surf conditions that come your way too. Learn all about the effects of the seasons on surfing.
Read about some of the most iconic big wave surf spots in the world.
FAQs: Waves & Surf Conditions
Waves are formed by wind. Learn all about wind and swells here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 3 main types of surf breaks include beachbreaks, reef breaks, and point breaks.
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.
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.
More Surf Condition Resources
Local & Regional Surf Spots
Explore a variety of surf spots near you. Find out the best conditions, characteristics of the wave, and compare forecasts.