Surf Terms

What you need to know if you want to go!

riding waves

If you want to learn to surf you have to learn the lingo. Below is a list of the most common surfer terms.

  • Peak - the section of a wave that breaks first
  • Take off - to paddle and catch a wave
  • Drop in - catching a wave and beginning your ride
  • Session - the time you spend surfing
  • Down the line - riding at an angle across the wave away from the peak
  • Set - a group of waves
  • Lull - the time the ocean is flat between sets
  • Stoked - happier than happy
  • Barreled - riding inside of the curl of the wave, also called 'tubed'
  • Goofyfoot - to stand with your right foot forward on a surfboard
  • Regular foot - to stand with your left foot forward on a surfboard
  • Backside - riding with the wave at your back
  • Frontside - riding facing the wave
  • Rashed - spend an afternoon on a board and you'll know
  • Ripper - a really good surfer
  • Kook - a person surfing with bad etiquette
  • Worked, pounded, ragdolled - what the ocean does to you after you wipe out
  • Wipe out - to fall
  • Tanker - a long surf board
  • Short board - a high performance surfboard
  • Offshore - when the wind blows from the shore, making the waves clean and organized
  • Onshore - when the wind blows from the ocean, making waves choppy and chaotic
  • Glassy - the ocean condition when there is no wind

Learn to surf »

Recommended Beaches For Learning To Surf

The following beaches are not great for surfing every day. Where and when you surf should always depend on current ocean conditions. When in doubt - don't go out! Always ask a lifeguard or local if you have any concerns.

  • Hanalei Bay - In the summer time, Hanalei's shallow, sandy bottom, gentle swells and pristine waters make for perfect conditions for the beginning surfer.
  • Kealia - Mostly sandy breaks and almost year round surf, make Kealia a great place to get wet with a board. Beware of underwater rocks at both ends of the beach.
  • Wailua - The extended shallow sand bar where the Wailua river meets the ocean can make for great knee high waves in waist deep water.
Comments (3 comments)   View all comments   

Bryan | Feb 27, 2009 5:20AM

My wife and I are currently on Kaua'i
and are staying in Wailua and have heard different thoughts of wailua beach,it looks good and I see a variety of [...] view more

Kauai Explorer Staff | Feb 27, 2009 4:45PM

Hi Bryan - Wailua's drawbacks are it's proximity to the highway, generally onshore winds, and murky waters. That said, the currents at Wailua are generally not [...] view more

Krystalyn | Aug 07, 2011 1:58AM

Son of a gun, this is so hpelful!

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