Which Tide Is Best For Surfing?

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You’ve fallen in love with surfing, have read our guide on the best time to surf for beginners, and are understandably eager to catch some waves.

But which tide is best for surfing? That’s what we’ll answer in this blog post.

Before we can start surfing, we have to dive into the basics of tides to give you a better understanding of what to look for.

That way, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your surfing experience — and hopefully some amazing GoPro footage to show your mates.

What are tides?

Tides simply refer to the depth of the water. Naturally, the deeper the water, the higher the potential for waves. That’s why it’s important to check the tide before you head out.

You may have heard that the moon affects the tides -— but so does the sun.

The lunar cycle impacts the tide because of the moon’s gravity field. Likewise, the sun also pulls on the Earth, which makes for an interesting tug-of-war.

Usually, the tides change twice a day, and it takes approximately six hours for the water to reach high tide, and then an additional six hours to hit low tide.

The highest and lowest tides happen when the sun and the moon pull in the same direction, and this can often be prime time for surfers.

What are the different surf tides?

There are two different types of tides: high tides and low tides. As the names imply, high tides means deeper water levels, and low tides means they’ll be more shallow.

It’s tempting to assume that high tides are always better than low tides. After all, you want as much water to surf on as possible, right?

Not necessarily — it depends on where you plan to surf.

High tides are great if you’re headed towards a reef break. The only exception is if it’s near a bluff, in which case the waves rarely break before hitting land.

Conversely, medium to low tides are better if you’re surfing near a beach break. The exception here is if there’s a lot of kelp, which can damage your board during low tides.

So which tide is best for surfing and how do you catch it?

Some experts would argue that the best time for surfing is neither high nor low tide. Instead, they advise you to pick the time when between the high and low endpoints.

But as we’ve covered, it very much depends on your location.

Instead, here are a few things you can do to find the best tides for you:

  • Check buoy reports – you can find online surf reports for your desired location and see the swell forecast and how it’ll affect the waves.
  • Choose a wave shape – low tides create faster and more hollow waves, whereas high tides will give beginner surfers an easier time.
  • Look at tide tables – these will give you an overview of when you can expect a high or a low tide in your area so you can plan accordingly.

Note: If you’re looking for the best tide for surf fishing, then we recommend high tides. These allow for more fish, which will increase your chances of a good catch. 

Ready to surf?

Costa Rica has some amazing waves, which is why we’ve put together some all-inclusive packages for you.

Want to know more about tides and waves before you book? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to have a chat.

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