How Long Do Surfers Surf? (Important Facts)

Surfing is undoubtedly one of the most addicting activities around, and if possible, most of us would surf every day, all day, but unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Here Is How Long Do Surfers Surf For:

A surf session generally lasts between 1 – 2 hours. However, weather conditions, swell, personal fitness, crowds, and your personal life will all contribute towards how long a surfer will surf for.

Throughout this article, we will take a look at how long most surfers spend in the ocean at a time, the contributing factors that limit our surf time, and just how often you should be training to maximize your progress.

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How Long Do Surfers Surf?

How Long Is an Average Surf Session?

If you are trying to figure out how long an average surfer spends in the ocean per session, you are going to struggle to find an accurate answer.

Although surfers generally spend 1 – 2 hours surfing at a time, some spend much more, while others prefer short 30 minute sessions.

Sometimes this is simply a personal choice; however, some factors limit how long we can surf for.

Personal Fitness

Surfing is without a doubt an intense workout and trains the body both aerobically and anaerobically.

Just as trying to run when you are not fit for running will leave you gasping for air after only a few minutes, being unfit for surfing is much the same.

Muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness are key to a long and enjoyable surf session.

If you are fit like the pros, you’ll likely be able to spend hours in the water, constantly paddling around the bay and catching waves.

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On the flip side, however, if you are particularly unfit or have not surfed in a while, you may find yourself exhausted after only 20 minutes.


If there are no waves, you simply can’t surf. This is both the joy and frustration of surfing.

Although we would love to surf all day every day, the swell conditions simply don’t allow this.

Even if you’re as fit as the legend Kelly Slater, you will still always be limited to the size of the swell and wave consistency.

If you are in the water for 20 minutes and the swell dies down, you won’t be putting in that 2-hour session you had planned to.

Similarly, if the swell picks up to a size bigger than you are comfortable with, it’s likely you’ll paddle back to shore and cut your session short to prevent a brutal beating.


Depending on where you’re surfing, tides may play a large role in how long you can stay out in the water.

Point breaks and reefs are highly reliant on the tides. Some only work at high tide, some only at low tide, while others work best during the change of the tide.

This greatly limits the window of when you can surf.

Furthermore, surfing at the back of a reef and having the tide drop too low will result in a painful (and destructive) walk back along the reef, which is not ideal for us or the ocean.

Weather Conditions

Weather is everything when it comes to surfing.

In perfect conditions, when there is a soft offshore breeze, a large swell period, and the weather is warm, you may find yourself spending multiple hours in the water, only to get out, have a quick snack, and head back to the waves.

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On the other hand, in a strong cross-shore, or off-shore wind, you will need to put a lot of extra effort into getting past the break and paddling around the bay, which will quickly use up your energy levels.

Furthermore, surfing in offshore winds makes the waves messy and the rides short, which is often frustrating and not ideal.

This will likely result in you leaving the water slightly sooner than planned.

Crowds and Other Surfers

The people that surround us can easily make or break our experience.

When you are out in a bar, surrounded by friends and others that you get along with, you tend to stay longer, have more fun, and somehow seem to have more endurance.

This concept is the same for surfing.

If you are surrounded by friends when you surf, or simply by friendly people, you will feel more comfortable, and want to spend more time in the ocean, even if you are too tired to paddle for a wave.

On the flip side, if the break is too crowded or the other surfers are hostile, it creates an unpleasant environment, and you will likely soon leave.

Available Time

Although surfing is greatly limited by swell and weather conditions, one of the biggest factors that limit our surf sessions is time.

Whether it’s because you started surfing in the evening and the sun is now going down, or perhaps you are putting in a quick surf session before work, our “outside the ocean obligations” often tend to pull us out of the water before we’re ready.

That being said, there are many “beach bums” around the world that have nothing but time for surfing and the salty ocean.

What Is the Longest Surf Session?

The longest recorded surf session was completed in 2015 by Josh Enslin, who surfed an uninterrupted session of 30 hours and 11 minutes at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

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Although this does not mean that Enslin caught waves for 30 hours straight, he did remain in the water for the duration of time, periodically catching waves.

How Many Times a Week Can I Surf?

In theory, you could surf every day if the conditions, as well as your body, allow it. However, this is almost never the case.

Even when living in an area with consistent surf, there will still be days where the breaks aren’t working.

Furthermore, it’s essential to give your body time to rest in between intense sessions.

If you don’t allow your body to heal, you will struggle to get fitter and stronger, which will reduce how long you can stay in the water.

Pro surfers, when possible, train 5-7 days a week, and spend as much of that time in the ocean as possible, as well as include a day or 2 of out the water training.

The reason they can surf so much is that they are not limited to time as most of us are, as well as years of training which has allowed them to maintain a level of physical and mental fitness.

For an average surfer, if the conditions allow it, surfing 3 – 4 times a week should be enough time to get sufficient practice, as well as time to relax and recover.


The time a surfer can spend in the ocean greatly differs between individuals, as well as is affected by factors such as available time and weather conditions.

On average, a surf session lasts between 1 and 2 hours, however, this can easily be increased or decreased depending on the individual.

The amount of time you spend in the water training will determine how quickly your surfing progresses, however, train too much, and you’ll quickly become overworked and exhausted.

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