How Tides Affect Surfing Conditions

Tide knowledge can be an invaluable for timing a great surf session and reading a tide report is actually quite easy. Tides advance and retreat in wave-like motion. The row of numbers along the bottom represents the time of day, while the numbers along the left indicate the height of the tide. All you have to do is match the hour with the corresponding tide measurement.

Tides can affect surf spots differently. However, the general rule of thumb is most reef breaks will turn on when the tide is low-pushing-high, while beach breaks usually work better with a medium tide. Keep in mind though that this is just a guideline and not the rule. Surf spots can vary on how they handle tides, and there is no substitute for surf break familiarity.

So next time you go surfing at a specific surf break, take a mental note to what the tide is doing and how it is affecting the waves. Are they breaking slow and mushy on the higher tide, and fast and steep on the lower tide? Its all about experience, and understanding tides is an important skill for timing the best time to go surfing that will help you for as long as you're a surfer.

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