In this sport it is not enough to know how to choose the surfboard, you must also know how to choose the correct wave and for this you need to know them. All professionals know their environment, but when we talked about sea everyone should know more and, in the case of this sport, why not start by knowing the types of waves?

It is actually very simple and when you start practicing this sport, your instructor will surely help you to recognize the different types of waves and which are the best to take to learn and then to advance.

To explain the different types of waves to surf, we will divide them into three categories: based on direction, height and shape. Are you ready?

1. Types of waves to surf according to their direction

If you’ve ever thought about surfing or stumbled upon the specific or technical words, on the beach and/or internet, you’ve surely heard something like “this beach makes right waves”. Well, we’ll solve the mystery for you, it’s very simple!

With the waves breaking from left to right, if we were on the board, we would go right. While if we saw the surfer from the beach, we would see him move to the left. It’s simple, it is said to have this direction because it is the side where the wave opens and offers its wall, so you’d better follow the correct side if you don’t want to fight with the part of the wave that breaks! And the left waves? The same but on the contrary!

When, on the other hand, the waves breaks at the same time for the entire length, it is a “close-out”. The latter do not allow you to surf the wave wall except for a few moments.

We also have the “a-frame” peak waves that break in both directions from the same peak, so you can choose where to get it and even two people can surf it, each in one direction. If you find an “a-frame” wave, take advantage of it because you can exercise in both directions!

2. Types of waves according to their height

Of course, the question of the height of the waves is something that its not always really clear. How are waves measured? Standing? In meters? Compared to the average height of a man? Bascom method? Hawaiian mode? Wave Face Mode? We can discuss it another day and focus for now on the types of waves to surf based on their height. Here’s what they are:

  • Small: perfect for starting and practicing this wonderful sport. They would be up to one meter high.
  • Medium: could be useful for more advanced surfers and can reach up to one and a half meters in height.
  • Big: with waves of two meters and above you must already be an expert and have the appropriate board.
  • Giants: Have you ever seen the brave go surfing in Nazaré? Well, those are giant waves and of course you need to have both mental and physical preparation at a high level.

3. The types of waves according to the seabed and the coast

Among the elements that most influence the way the waves break, there are the seabed and the conformation of the coast.

From the combination of these last elements, the famous “Surf Breaks” are formed, i.e. permanent or semi-permanent obstacles that cause the breaking of the waves.

Among the main types of “Surf Breaks”, there are:

  • “Beach Break”: made up of 100% sand, these are beaches characterized, in general, by irregular and unpredictable waves. The sandbanks change continuously according to the currents and swells.
  • “Point Break”: a place where the waves hit a specific point on the coast (or protruding rocks) following the conformation offered by the coast itself. The waves of a “Point Break” are regular and allow long rides. In most cases they break in one direction only, i.e. to the right or to the left. The seabed can be made of rocks, sand or coral.
  • “Reef Break”: a “Reef break” occurs when a wave breaks on a coral reef or on a rocky bottom. Unlike the “Point Break”, the waves of a reef do not follow the coastline but break according to the inclination of the seabed. Wave breaking can occur near the shore or off the coast. In general, the waves of a “Reef Break”, as well as in the “Point Break”, are regular and predictable.

Finally, as a last feature, the waves can take various shapes depending on the seabed, the conformation of the coast and the period (time interval between one wave and another). This is the reason why we speak of flat waves, steep waves, barrelling waves and shore break waves.

Taking into account all the above characteristics, the waves will be more or less fun or more or less suitable for one level rather than another.

Now you know more about the types of waves to surf on! It certainly doesn’t seem that complicated now that you’ve read a bit about this topic. If you want to master it, you just have to come and meet us and take a surf course in Fuerteventura with We will answer all your questions and you will have fun for sure!