How to Surf Small Waves

Surfing is a great and enjoyable pastime activity and hobby. However, it might be intimidating for amateurs. The grand waves and endless waters are sure to shake the confidence of beginners.

The key is to start properly. You don’t need to ride the biggest waves immediately, and you should start practicing with calmer waters. As such, we will help you tame smaller waves.

This article aims to guide you on how to ride small waves with your surfboard. We will detail different types of surfing, techniques, and learning methods you should employ while practicing.

How to Start Learning to Surf on Small Waves

To start your surfing journey, you must begin with the basics. While riding small waves might not seem that difficult compared to the big ones, it requires practice.

Find a waveless, calm body of water and start practicing your stance. Surfers place their strongest foot at the back. If you are a rightie, you’ll most likely adopt the regular stance, while lefties will naturally take on the mirror of it, called the “goofy” stance.

Have both your feet on the spine of the board behind one another. They should be planted on the back half of the board. The distance between them should be as wide as your shoulders. Slightly bend your knees. If you want to accelerate, shift your weight forward, and do the opposite if you want to slow down. Balance is key.

Once you feel confident in your stance, you can start flirting with calmer waves.

How to Surf Small Waves

Now that your form is adequate, it’s time to take the waves. In traditional wave surfing, you should start out by laying on your belly and paddling toward the waves with your hands. You should be paddling away from the waves so that they hit you from the back. Be on a straight line and await the moment of pop-up patiently. 

Once the wave starts pushing you up, get ready. Grip the board next to your ribs and push. While you push your body up, swing your feet and land them in the stance at the same time. Then, shoulders facing forward, you should start to ride the momentum.

While riding the wave, be ready to shift your body and balance. Use your hands and have your feet firmly on the surfboard, with your toes spread slightly apart. If you are a beginner, do not do anything flashy and just enjoy the wave. Do not be afraid of falling and failing. Practice makes perfect

To summarize, here’s how you surf small waves point by point:

  1. Lay on your belly and paddle towards the waves.
  2. Start paddling away from the waves until you feel it lifting you up.
  3. Grip the board by the side and push yourself up.
  4. Swing your feet into position.
  5. Take up your stance
  6. Ride the wave and balance yourself.

Is It Good to Surf Small Waves?

Surfing small waves might not seem exciting, but it is actually a lot of fun. Although the big waves might catch the eye more, riding the sea is an exhilarating experience regardless of the ripples. You can gain quite a good momentum if you try as well.

In addition to being fun, riding small waves is a good learning experience as well. If you plan to tame the big waves, you need to start small. On small waves, you are much more focused on perfecting your technique and stance. Riding a small wave well can be more taxing than surfing a big one as well, so you need to incorporate it into your learning experience.

Is It Safe to Surf Small Waves?

Yes, surfing on small waves is relatively safe, but it completely depends on the individual. You should know your limits and be fully prepared both mentally and physically when taking on even calmer beaches. Clear your mind and fully focus on the waves.

Here are some tips to make surfing small waves safer:

  • Bring an expert or partner
  • Practice your swimming
  • Stick to calmer beaches
  • Remain close to the shore
  • Practice on beaches with lifeguards
  • Get comfortable with your technique
  • Have good quality equipment
  • Be focused and mentally there

Remember, safety is always a priority. Once you made sure of that, all you have to do is enjoy the moment and ride the waves.

Where to Find Small Waves

Small waves usually form on calm to moderately windy days on the sea and ocean shore. However, they can also form on bigger lakes on more windy days. Keep in mind that surfing is unpredictable. The waves change each day, and no remains the same as before. Tailor your choice of destination to your preferences while keeping external factors, such as weather, in mind.

That being said, there are some spots around the world that are generally considered to be beginner-friendly. Here are some of these places:

  • Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka: A relatively cheap travel destination with warm waters and waves for surfers of all levels of expertise, including beginners.
  • Currumbin Alley, Australia: A sunny part on the beaches of the Gold Coast with small waves and many surfers-to-be.
  • Waikiki, Hawaii: When talking about surfing, you can’t miss Hawaii. Waikiki is said to be the most beginner-friendly surfing spot in the world.


Surfing small waves seems to be daunting at first, but with enough practice, anyone can tame the waters. There are several types of surfing that you can choose from. Proper stance and balance are key and you should practice those first to perfection.

While catching small waves, you should lay on your belly and paddle away from them until you feel one lifting you. Then, hop into stance and maintain balance. There are many places where you can practice your surfing on small waves, but some of the best are in France, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Hawaii.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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