Ask Betty: Surf Breaks

Dear Betty,

I have heard of different types of breaks and am wondering, as a beginner, where should I go to practice surfing?

— Jill, New York, New York

Dear Jill,

Around the USA, we mainly have beach breaks and point breaks. Tropical locations will also have reef breaks. A beach break is a surf break that breaks all along a sandy beach (surprise, surprise). Make sure that the waves break out far enough that you have a chance to catch and ride them in. You don’t want to attempt riding shore break (waves that crash right on the sand) or you will get hurt. As a beginner, stick to beach breaks where you have the opportunity to spread out and find your own little piece of real-estate. Breach breaks are nice for beginners in that you can start on the inside (where the wave has already broken) and practice your pop-ups and stance and then gradually move to the outside to begin catching the “green wave.” Just remember to stay alert to other more experienced surfers. Point breaks wrap around and usually break over rocks or reef. Point breaks offer up a great wave, but the drawback for beginners is that there is usually only one take-off zone. If you are new, more experienced surfers will beat you to the punch every time and whip past you (or get pissed at you if you drop in on them… or it is your turn and you miss a great wave). Save point breaks for when you feel more comfortable in the water. Reef breaks break over sharp coral reef and therefore are a little sketchy for the newbie. If it’s high tide and the break is nice and gentle, this can be a good choice as well, just remember to fall flat!

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