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Which factors make up a good wave?

Many times here at Atlantik Surf we write and talk about the conditions, about the weather, the waves, the wind, and everything that goes with it and sometimes even we are not sure if everybody is still following. So to clear things up a bit here are all the terms that often seem to be quite confusing, but are essential to define a good wave. If we missed any, let us know in the comment section below.

Off Shore

Nope, this is not another MTV show where a bunch of – let’s call them socially challenged – people are going to party their brains and later pull their hair out. On the contrary, this is all you will ever wish for when you’re capable of riding tubes. Off shore is a reference to the wind that blows off from the shore out to the sea. Off shore winds blow against the wall of a wave and thereby keep it more open for a more hollow tube.

Softer off shore winds will make good tubes, but if they’re blowing too fast they will slow you down when catching the wave and on top will have you end up with a lot of spray in the face. I guess it’s  just like with most things in life: great when coming in the right dose, but too much can be up to prejudicial.

On Shore

Nope, not a reality show either. These are the complementary version of off shore winds. This means that in this case the wind is blowing from the sea and onto the shore. These conditions are ususally quite annoying as the winds shuts the wave from behind, meaning it pushes against the back of the wave and makes it break prematurely. Something, which usually results in a lot of white water.

Side Shore

This is the case when the winds is neither coming up front, nor from behind. Side shore winds are generally just as annoying as on shore winds, except for the case when they’re not strong and blowing slightly off shore.


The time that seperates one wave from the next. It’s quite easy to count, you just watch one wave break and count the seconds until the next one does. The wave period is a fundamental part in wave forecasts. The longer the period, the further apart are the waves. This means that during their journey across the ocean they arranged themselves well, so that when breaking on the shore they will be much more defined. This is of course if no on shore winds messes them back up.


This is a higher ground on the bottom of the sea, which is fix. Reefs are usually made of rock or in tropical regions of corals. They typically generate good waves since they’re always in the same position and don’t change over time. This condition is then called a:

Point Break

This is a spot where there always breaks more or less the same wave. Point breaks usually occur where there is a reef or a certain accumulation of sand that, again, usually comes in combination with a reef. These are highly regarded waves, because since they always break in the same spot they are often more easy to catch and are generally longer and more defined. However, caution is to be kept with the ground as reefs tend to be shallow and, well, rock hard.

Beach Break

This is a spot where waves break pretty much everywhere. Generally these are beaches with a sand bottom and a more or less constant profoundness. The waves break over the sand banks that form. The difference to a reef or a point break is that these sand banks are not fix since they are changing with the tides and currents. Catching beach break waves tends to be harder than on a point break, simply because of the many waves breaking at once.

Close Out

This is a wave that breaks along the whole beach at the same time. Therefore it practically leaves no room to surf it. If you ever find this, don’t even try. Just look for another spot.

Alright, enough with the theory. Everybody grab your boards and go surf!!

But before I go I will show you a good example of a point break over a rock reef, where there is breaking a wave with off shore winds. Enjoy!

Original article by Luigier Crest @

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