How To Find & Catch Unbroken Waves

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Surfer coming out of the water with firewire surfboard other surfers in the background surfing

If you’re reading this, then you’re obviously ready for your next surfing challenge: mastering the green wave. By now, you’re already a pro at catching whitewater, but we’re going to be totally honest with you: that’s not even the exciting part of surfing. We’d go so far as to say that you’ve never truly surfed until you’ve ridden an unbroken wave. Are you ready?

While you’re learning from our Kalon instructors, riding the perfect clean wave is as simple as following our instructions. But when you’re out on your own? Different story. So, when you’re out there wondering how to know if you can get waves, this guide will be your ticket to the big one.

Finding the perfect wave

True surfers know that only a part of surfing is physical. The rest is mental and emotional – forming a connection with the ocean that you can only get by being out there whenever possible. Want to learn how to know if you can get waves? Start learning how to read the ocean!

Start by paddling out past the breaks and into the lineup until you’ve got a good view of the horizon and you’re about 15 feet beyond any breaking waves. 

Now it’s time to find the perfect wave. To do this, you’ve got to understand the stages.

Waves come in four distinct stages:

  • Horizon bumps
  • Unbroken wave-shaped mounds
  • Tall breaking waves
  • Broken whitewater waves

Scan the horizon for small, tell-tale bumps that signal forming waves. These are way too small to surf now, but by the time they get to you, they’ll have turned into unbroken waves – powerful and steep enough to ride but not too vertical that it’s started breaking.

Catching an unbroken wave

You’re out in the lineup, you’ve got the perfect unbroken wave approaching – now what? Unlike whitewater surfing, timing and proper paddling are everything when catching a clean wave. If you don’t find that sweet spot in the wave, you’re probably going to wipe out (you might do this your first couple of times anyway, but don’t worry, it’s natural).

Once you’ve located your wave, turn around to face the shore and begin paddling with long, smooth strokes. Don’t wimp out! You want to be going the same speed as the wave is, so keep your eye on it to know if you should be paddling faster or slower. If you aren’t going the same speed as the wave is, you’re probably going to go for a swim instead of a surf.

At this point, you’re going to feel a little push as the wave catches you – don’t stop paddling! That’s a rookie’s mistake. Give two or three more strong pulls, then pop up when you’re about 2/3 up the wave.

That’s it! You’ve caught it!

Get professional surf coaching at Kalon

Catching an unbroken wave is all about practice, and the professional instructors at Kalon are here to help. We’ve got plenty of surfing tips and tricks for beginners, intermediates, and experts on our blog, and high-quality surfing instruction at our gorgeous Costa Rica location. If you’re ready for the best surfing experience ever, contact us today to get things started.

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