When we start to talk about perfect waves, no break has more to offer than a point break.
Producing some of the longest lines in the ocean, point breaks are not consistent, but they put all other waves to shame when they work.
Here’s How to Surf a Point Break:
When surfing a point break, It is important to watch the break carefully, choose where to enter to water wisely, pay close attention to the locals, pop up quickly, dig your rail in hard, and maintain a sense of flow throughout your ride.
Below we will take a closer look into point breaks, their pros, and cons, how to surf them, where to find them, and why they might be the best breaks to surf.
What Is a Point Break?
Most surfers often consider point breaks the best waves as they tend to form the longest surfable waves.
A point break occurs when swell hits a headland, reef, or rock formation at an angle that causes the wave to wrap around the obstruction and change direction towards the shore.
This causes the wave to break from a single point in clean, long, uninterrupted lines.
How to Safely Surf a Point Break
Surfing a point can be tricky; the waves are long and powerful, they tend to break off of rocky land heads, are often crowded, and tend to break in steep, powerful walls of water.
When surfing on a point, all the usual surf etiquette needs to be upheld. This includes where you choose to paddle out, take turns, get in the way of others, and respect the ocean and its coasts.
That being said, other tips could be helpful when surfing a point break.
6 Tips for Surfing a Point Break
Although similar to other breaks, Surfing a point break has many differences, and to the inexperienced surfer, it can be dangerous and tricky to navigate.
The following tips should help you remain safe while surfing a point break, as well as aid you in getting the most out of your session.
1. Watch the Ocean and Breaking Waves
Just as you should watch the surf every time before you enter the ocean, surfing a point break is no different and in some ways, even more important.
As the waves break over a point, It is important to take note of where the waves break, obstacles that may be in the way, as well as the changing size of the swell and the consistency of the sets.
Because point breaks are long rides with powerful waves, It is dangerous to put your board in the water before you have an understanding of how the break works.
2. Watch the Other Surfers
As point breaks are some of the best waves in the world, you should expect each point to have its own set of locals that have “claimed” the area.
Be sure to make friends with the locals, ask them for advice on how the break works, and most importantly, watch what they do.
Take note of where the locals enter and exit the water, where they sit while they wait for a wave, and when they decide to bail from a ride.
All of this will take out a lot of guesswork, help keep you safe, and make sure you avoid getting in the way of a grumpy local.
3. Maintain a Sense of Flow
Surfing a point break is all about flow. Because the waves are large, long, and clean, you can take your time to slowly carve along the face of the wave.
Not only is flow on the wave important, but the flow of the ocean should be taken into account.
Pay attention to the movements of the water. Watch each section, how it works, and how it relates to other sections on the break.
By understanding the flow of the break, you will be able to time up the sections and surf some of the longest rides of your life.
4. Popup Fast and Dig Your Rails Deep
Point breaks are steep and fast.
Because of this, it’s essential to have mastered your popup and be able to stand up with speed and precision.
Furthermore, once you are up because the wave is so steep, you should dig your rail deep, turn into the wave quickly, and remain low to maintain a good center of balance.
5. Be Prepared to Walk Back
Point breaks, when they are working, can be extremely long waves, some of which can reach rides of a kilometer or more.
This makes paddling back to your take-off point a long grueling mission that will likely result in you being too tired to catch another wave.
Most surfers, in this case, will opt to leave the water and walk back to where they entered the ocean, which is often over a reef or rocky land head near the start of the breaking waves.
6. Consider Surfing Booties
Surfing in booties is sometimes uncomfortable and many surfers don’t enjoy using them as it limits how well you can feel your surfboard beneath your feet.
That being said, when surfing on a reef or point break, we sometimes need to walk to the water over sharp rocks.
Although this can be done without booties, your journey will be slow, and you stand the risk of cutting yourself and needing to give up on your surf altogether.
What Are the Pros of Surfing a Point Break?
Point breaks are highly sought after by seasoned surfers as they offer some of the best rides around.
Because of this, when they’re found, surfers tend to keep quiet about the location which further adds to the value of these amazing breaks.
1. Longest Rides
In the correct conditions, point breaks form the longest surfable waves. This is because of the direction in which the swell breaks.
Unlike beach breaks where the swell often hits the shore straight on, thus breaking in different sections at different times, a point break breaks from a single point in a uniform fashion, thus allowing you to surf for hundreds of meters.
2. Consistent Waves
As the waves always break from the point, it is much easier to judge the swell, which allows you to catch more waves.
Because you won’t need to paddle around the bay after each set, the waves will seem more consistent.
That being said, point breaks require exact conditions to work, and without the perfect wind direction, tide, swell direction and swell size, the break will not work.
This makes point breaks some of the rarest rides around.
3. Smaller Crowds (sometimes)
Thanks to how perfect the conditions need to be, how few point breaks exist, and the unwillingness of surfers to share their secret locations, point breaks often come with smaller crowds.
Although secret spots are often uncrowded, not all point breaks are so lucky.
The more popular points, when they’re firing, can attract some of the biggest crowds out, thus making them unappealing and dangerous.
The World’s Best Point Breaks
- Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa
- Oaxaca, Mexico
- Chicama, Peru
- Rincon & Malibu, California
- Burleigh Heads & The Superbank, Gold Coast, Australia
4. No Kooks
Point breaks are not easy waves to surf. They’re steep, fast, powerful, and often hollow and huge.
The rawness and skill that it takes to safely surf a point break is a natural kook deterrent, and you will, therefore, be unlikely to come across unskilled surfers surfing a point.
Furthermore, seasoned surfers don’t want to share their surf spots with other skilled surfers, let alone newbies.
What Are the Downsides of Surfing Point Breaks?
Although point breaks are some of the most sought-after waves to surf, they do not come without risks and downsides, some of which seem to contradict the pros of these perfect waves.
1. Overcrowded Waters
Because point breaks are such perfect waves, when a point becomes popular, it draws surfers from all around the world to experience its long hollow tubes.
Although this seems to contradict the above pro, not all point breaks are popular, and it’s only the commonly known ones that become an overcrowded nightmare.
2. Seldomly Break Perfectly
Although point breaks from some of the best waves around, with the longest rides and cleanest faces, they only work when the conditions are perfect.
Although waves will often break over a headland, to get those perfect lines that make point breaks so sought after, you will need the perfect wind direction, wind speed, swell direction, as well as swell size.
For all these elements to line up is a fairly rare occasion, but when they do, you’ll find surf that you believed only existed in your dreams.
3. Entering the Water Is Tricky
As mentioned before, point breaks form when the prevailing swell hits a headland or rocky outcrop.
From this point, the wave will break, which makes walking over the headland a necessary journey to get into the water.
This is usually a long, grueling mission as you try not to slip and cut yourself or break your board before you’ve even touched the water.
4. Long Paddle Back to the Point
With long rides come long missions back to your starting point.
Unlike surfing on a reef where the rideable section of the wave is short, which makes paddling back to your starting point a breeze, point breaks can sometimes send you hundreds of kilometers before the wave dies out.
This makes paddling back to catch another wave an extremely tiresome process.
This is why many surfers choose to exit the water and walk back to the headland that they began on.
5. Not for Beginners
Point breaks are not for the faint of heart.
The take-off spot is tricky to get to, the swell is big, and the waves are hollow, fast, and steep.
Not to mention the hard rocks and competitive locals.
As a beginner surfer, you should not surf a point break until you are physically and mentally fit for the task, have mastered your popup, duck diving, and are well aware of all the surfing etiquette.
6. Point Breaks are Dangerous
Surfing is considered an extreme sport and is always dangerous, especially when you don’t follow or don’t know the rules that are followed in the water.
Although surfing can be dangerous, following surf etiquette and understanding the ocean will massively change your odds in the ocean.
That being said, different breaks bring different risks, and a point break is one of those spots that are riskier than others.
Because of the huge swell, an abundance of rocks, and consistency of waves, surfing a point can be dangerous for those who don’t know what they’re doing.
Surfing a point break is much like surfing any other wave; however, where you enter the water, where you sit, and the general power and angle of the waves are greater than breach breaks and other beginner-orientated waves.
Although point breaks are not suited for beginners, following the tips above will give you an edge and make you that much more confident to ride your first point break wave.