How to Get More Waves When Surfing!


Surfing is always fun, but it’s a lot more fun when you can catch more waves. 

With this in mind, I prepared this guide to help you learn how to do just that and get a better wave count when you hit the waves and to help you learn that much quicker. 

Being out in the surf and not being able to get many waves is an incredibly frustrating experience and you might feel like other people are just catching all the waves in front of you while you’re there just flailing without being able to get anything. 

However, with this guide, you’ll learn how you can get more waves when you go surfing.

To start, how do you get more waves when surfing? Use a big enough board, try walking further down the beach to go somewhere where there are fewer people, and just pay attention to what’s going on around you. As I’ll explain in more detail below in this post.

So that’s the brief version done. Now let’s get into more of the meaty parts of this topic and give you more info on how you can increase your wave count very quickly.

Let’s go!

Surf a Big Enough Board

When you head out into the surf, surfing a big enough board is crucial, not only for learning, but also for catching waves. 

It makes sense that the bigger the board, the easier it is to catch waves on because the more volume the board has, the more surface area, the faster it floats through the water. 

This means that it’s easier to paddle, you get into waves earlier and you get into smaller waves as well. So you’ve got a much wider range of options when it comes to catching waves. 

Being easier to paddle means that you can get yourself in position for more waves than you might with a smaller board and it just means that it’s all round exponentially easier. 

If you’re going to do anything to improve your wave count, getting a big enough board is the first and best thing you can possibly do.

A common problem for people learning to surf is actually that they try and learn to surf on too short of a board and that’s just a bad idea all around because the opposite happens, namely: 

  • It’s harder to catch waves
  • It’s harder to paddle
  • It’s harder to balance

So all of those things then mean that you’re just not going to progress as quickly.

So go on the opposite end. If you’re not sure about what size board to get, check out my detailed post on choosing the length of your first surfboard.

Walk Down the Beach to a Quiet Peak

The next best thing you can do to catch more waves is just to walk a little bit further away from the madding crowds.

You don’t need to sift the busiest spot. Yes there’s often a reason why the main peak or the one part of the beach is the busiest, but it doesn’t mean you need to surf it

It might be because the waves break there better than anywhere else, but if you’re learning and you’re looking to get more waves, one of the best things you can do is actually distance yourself from the crowds because you end up in a dog fight on the main peak, just trying to get any waves you can. 

Whereas if you walk a few hundred yards down the beach, the wave might not be quite as good, but you should still be able to get a lot of waves. And you’ll benefit more from having that experience of riding more waves in a second.

Going for a walk down the beach for a quieter surf!
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

And to add to that, it’s not always the case that the waves are better on the busiest peak. Sometimes people are just lazy. 

So if you walk a little bit down the beach, you can often have a very similar surf but with fewer people and then a heck of a lot more waves, which just makes everything much more fun. 

And again, we’ll help you to learn and progress a lot more quickly. This is where going to spots with big open beaches is best because then you can just walk.

Sometimes you might need to walk 5, 10, 15 minutes, but it will always pay off because the further you walk, the fewer people there will be, and the more waves there will be just for you.

So remember that and think about it next time you’re heading out and choosing your peak!

Surf Closer to Shore

When you’re in the early stages of surfing, surfing close to shore is a really good way to get more waves because there are fewer people who are in that much closer to shore. 

Now it depends on your stage, but if you’re still in the early stages, then this is another good option because you’re not going to be fighting for waves in that way.

Now it might also be when you’ve progressed a little bit as well, that you just surf a bit on what’s called the inside. 

So let’s say the outside is, what we say in surfing, ‘out the back’,  beyond the breaking waves and the inside is closer to shore than the breaking waves.

So if you just surf a little bit on the inside or a bit closer to the shore, it’s going to be a lot fewer people and more waves for you once again. 

So really being strategic about it can help you increase your wave count and catch more waves in your session.

Now often, it’s a good way just to get some good waves anyway, because people often try and fight for the big waves or the sets as they call them. 

But you don’t need to do that. You could sit close to shore, have more consistent waves coming in And more chance of getting them yourself and not having to fight for them. 

That said, you want to choose your spots carefully in this instance because if it is a place where the waves do dump on the insight and they break quite powerfully then, maybe this won’t work as well. 

So try it out and see how it goes, but you don’t really want to be on the impact zone or in the impact zone, which you’ll know about it if you’re there. 

But in other places, if you can wait out the sets, and just wait for them to wash through, then you can catch some really good waves, very consistently, a bit closer to shore than the rest of the people out in the surf.

Watch Before Paddling Out

This again goes back to the points about paying attention to what’s going on around you. Watching the lineup where the surfers are sitting in the waves, before you paddle out gives you a really good idea of where you can position yourself to sit and catch more waves. 

If you take a strategic approach and you put yourself in a spot where there are some good waves, but there aren’t so many people, then again your chance of getting more waves is just going to be much higher than it would be otherwise.

Catching waves on a quiet peak. Photo Credit: Kaspars Upmanis

You might also find that if you look from the beach, that there’s a spot or a peak that has nice waves that other people have overlooked and you can see them coming in, and it’s just, for some reason, a bit quieter, then you can head to that spot and try and get some waves yourself

Often this will work well and it will mean that you can have, once again, more waves to choose from and an easier time catching those waves while you’re out in the surf.

Related Questions

How do I get more waves on my short board? Surf at a wide open beach break where you can walk away from the crowd. Surf a little bit closer into shore, and don’t go for the sets, go for the smaller or medium waves on the inside as explained in this post. 

If you do all of these things, then you will be able to get more waves on your short board. 

But remember that if you’re learning to surf, a short board is not the best option. So try and go for a longer board if you can and then come back to that when you are ready.

How do you get past waves when surfing? To go under a wave is called a duck dive, and you push your front of your board down under the wave before it rolls over you and then put it back up by pushing your knee or your foot into the tail of the board and you will shoot up the other side. 

However, you can’t do this for really big waves because the impact of the wave will be under the surface and it will roll you as well. But just try that. 

If you’re on a bigger board, then you might need to do an eskimo roll while holding onto your board, but be sure not to let your board go, because if you do, it could hit someone behind you and could be a serious danger. 

So don’t paddle out if you’re not sure how to do this, and the waves are big or powerful. Always go out with a soft board when learning and check out my post on the best beginner surf boards to see some of my recommendations on this.

Steve Beale

Hey there! I'm Steve and run Surf Learner, sharing all the tips I've gained from my 20+ years of surfing to help you learn that much faster. I've traveled and surfed all over the world and love sharing what I've learned along the way. It's great to have you!

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