The Different Types of Surf Breaks and Where to Find Them

man riding surfboard and making tricks

Our planet has created impeccable conditions for us to enjoy surfing. All you need to do is to equip yourself with the right amount of knowledge and skills to take advantage of the different types of surf breaks and create the most remarkable experience in life with them.

When you find an epic surf spot, it becomes your stage to display your skills and tricks. However, you do not always get what you wanted. The essential knowledge and perfect timing are needed to catch these waves. You should also know where to look for them.

What are the different types of surf breaks?

There are three main types of surf breaks and additional categories for you to evaluate which type will suit your mood and level.

The Beach Break: Forgiving but Unpredictable Waves

time lapse photography of ocean wave

If you are a beginner in surfing, riding a beach break is ideal to start and develop your basic skills—and to be on the safer side, where the sand can catch your fall. Beach breaks form when waves break on a shallow sandy seabed or sandbars. The quality of these waves depends on the shape of the sandy bottom.

There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to read or catch a beach break suitable for surfing. The sandy seabed shifts according to sea currents, climate, and tides which is why it can be erratic from time to time. If you are lucky, you can find the beach breaks that are as high as 20 feet! If you are a beginner in surfing, you should stick with soft and long waves first.

You can often find beach breaks in places with sand bars and major coastlines—which are almost anywhere. You do not have to travel far.

Ready to visit famous places with the best beach breaks? You can check out Hossegor (France), Ocean Beach (San Francisco), Puerto Escondido (Mexico), King Island (Tasmania) and other locations as mentioned in our surf destinations section of our website. Make sure to travel during the best time of the year!

The Point Break: Long and Reliable Waves

man riding wave with orange surfboard

Point breaks are the kind of waves that are predictable especially when the right conditions are met. They are created when waves wrap around a headland and peel in the left or right direction along a coastline or cove. These waves are long as compared to a beach break. For first-timers, choose a gently-rolling point break. Nevertheless, most of these waves are not suitable for beginners because they are difficult to ride.

Point breaks can have a rocky bottom so be careful when riding them!

Do you want to take a long, racy surf? Visit Bell’s Beach (Australia) or Jeffrey’s Bay (South Africa). For a gentle-paced ride, you can go to Malibu, California.

The Reef Break: Extreme Surfing on Rocky Bottoms

Unlike beach breaks, the base of reef breaks is unchanging—meaning all you get are rocks and coral reefs on the shallow surface. Strong and enormous waves break on them. Among the main three types of waves, reef breaks are the most sure-fire and powerful. This option is a no-no for beginners. Do you see a friendly-looking reef break? Do not be fooled. They are still deadly.

Reef breaks with the most dangerous waves attract professional surfers all over the world because of the epic and life-changing surfing experience they offer.

Are you looking for an extreme surfing adventure? Head over to Nazaré (Portugal), Peahi (Hawaii), Cape Fear (Australia), and Mavericks (California).

Did you know?

Surfing is considered as a safe sport. According to Sports Medicine Australia, the risk for injury in surfing is low (0.26 injuries per surfer per year).

Other Types of Breaks

Surfing is not limited to the coastlines. You can also have fun on rivers and even on artificial wave pools.

River Surfing: Standing River Breaks

man riding surfboard and making tricks

Rivers and creeks with fast currents can create waves that are ideal for surfing. Though hard to find, these are often found in the mountains, in the center of the jungle and at river mouths. Extreme caution should always be observed when surfing these kinds of waves. Rivers have a very rocky bottom, are shallow with limited space for maneuvers. Additional hazards include the presence of dangerous animals like crocodiles, snakes, and even piranhas!

Reminder: Always bring a friend with you when planning to go river surfing.

Some of the best river surfing spots are the Eisbach River (Germany), Bend Whitewater Park (Oregon, USA), and Pororoca (Brazil).

Artificial Wave Pools

Surfing waves can be made through a wave-generating machine. Water parks and resorts with artificial wave pools can be found anywhere. The design of these waves varies depending on the users—from kids to adults!

Here’s a fun fact:

Due to the advancement of technology, research, and development, there are artificial wave pools that can create phenomenal big waves.


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