The three main types of surf breaks are beach breaks, point breaks and reef breaks. They all have their different characteristics that offer a bit of something for everyone. By learning how different waves break, you can get ready for what is out there. This will be useful after you’ve learned how to read a surf report. Here’s what you need to know about wave breaks. 

Beach breaks

Beach breaks are areas where waves break over a sandy bottom. They are also the most common types of wave breaks. The soft sandy bottom also makes them a safer option for beginners. However, due to the fact that the shoreline is softer sand, the bottom contour is constantly changing. This means that the shape and even location of the waves are constantly at the mercy of currents, tides and storms. Beach wave breaks are less consistent than reef breaks or point breaks. However, that does not mean that you can’t have a boatload of fun on a sand bar. 

Point breaks

Point breaks can be found where the shoreline extends out to the sea and forms a headland. As a wave hits the shallow headland (or jetty), it peels along the shoreline creating a long and consistent wave. The characteristics of point breaks is that they always break to the same side. While they do not have the same versatility of beach breaks or reef breaks, they make up for it with a longer ride. However, these wave breaks usually have only one takeoff point and plenty of other surfers. So, get ready to wait in line!

Under the right conditions, reef breaks provide something that other spots simply cannot offer. Just remember to watch out for those razor-sharp corals.

Reef breaks

Reef breaks occur in places where swells meet a shallow reef or a rocky bottom and form waves. Because the seabed on a reef is more solid than a beach break, the waves are far more consistent than others. Thus, reef breaks can can keep pumping out perfect surfable waves constantly. If reefs breaks are a exposed to the open ocean, you may encounter some very powerful hollow waves. Barreling waves are usually found at reef breaks. 

Under the right conditions, experienced surfers can find waves that point breaks or beach wave breaks simply cannot offer. Also, with less moving sand, the water is also crystal clear on reef spots. This creates a once-in-a-lifetime experience that all surfers are looking for. 

Reef spots do have their downsides too. More notably, shallow and sharp reefs with big waves can produce some nasty cuts and injuries while you are out on the water. Often times there is only a few feet between your board and razor-sharp corals. They also contain bacteria that can cause serious infections as well. We suggest you build up experience on beach and point breaks before going to reef spots. 

Here’s a few tips for reef surfing:

  • Surf with someone that knows how the wave breaks
  • Watch out for others
  • Wear an extra layer of neoprene
  • Use rubber booties
  • Fall as flat as you can
  • Cover your head

Did you learn anything new about surf wave breaks?

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