surfboard fins


Have you ever done research while looking for a new surfboard? If so, then you’ll know that there is an overwhelming amount of information on there on making the right choice.


Fins for your board are no different. They are available in a variety of sizes, materials, setups, and flexibility. And whether you’re a beginner or pro, your fin setup will have a huge impact on your style and preference when surfing.

Now, before going any further let’s discuss what fins actually do. They essentially give you control, direction, and stability on your board. Without fins, you take away much of your ability to navigate through waves. Surfing with precision and speed is really only possible with fins.

As we said before, there are many different options out there for fin setups. We chose to highlight a few of the best for you to peruse.



The number of fins and possible configurations will vary from board to board and depend on fin type. You’ll have to decide which setup will be best for you and go from there. We will discuss some of the most popular configurations to give you a better idea. Each one is used for a different reason and is chosen by different types of riders.

single fin surfThe single fin option is ideal for longboards. Some surfers consider these a touch outdated, while others appreciate the different feel it offers. These fins are really best for basic, straight shot surfing. Basically, they won’t help you while doing anything too fancy.

They are long, wide and big offering fairly easy control over the board. Single fins are best when surfing small/medium, fat and weak waves. Since one fin creates less drag than multiple fins, they are most useful when surfing smooth, slow turns. That being said, if you try and make quick turns or moves, a single fin won’t handle it as well as a multiple fin setup.


A two fin setup is referred to as twin fins or a dual fin configuration. You will typically see a twin fin setup on a shorter surfboard. They can offer more fun, playful surfing when used.

Twin fins give the rider more manoeuvrability and have a skatier feel than a single fin. This fin setup saw a spike in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Surfer Mark Richards used twin-fin “fishes” to win four consecutive World Championships. After that, surfers worldwide saw the competitive edge that two fins can offer a rider versus a single fin. A dual fin setup offers more control and speed than a single fin, but can also feel a little loose and make bottom turns harder.


thrusther 3 fin
3 fin Thrusther

As you might have guessed this set up is three fins. The tri-fin set up is by far the most popular amongst surfers across the board. It can be ideal for all skill levels from novice to expert.

It’s also the most practical purchase. If you have a tri-fin setup you can always remove fins to try single and twin fin surfing as well. The third fin adds more stability and manoeuvrability. The two outer fins are angled towards the centre of the board increasing tracking and speed. The middle fin is closer to the tail of the board. The tri-fin setup came from Australian surfer Simon Anderson. He came up with the idea of three equal-sized fins in the 1980s. The setup exploded with popularity after that. The tri fins do well even in harsher conditions. They can hold up to steep, powerful waves. This setup is great for high-performance riding and tricks. The only real downfall is the drag you get from the additional fin.


Quad fun surfboard
Quad fin

The quad fin is, can you guess it? That’s right, 4 fins! This setup can offer you some of the best features of the twin fin and the thruster. Opposed to Thrusters, Quads can offer much more control and are best used in small surf.

When the back fins are positioned close to the rails they help increase speed for the rider. They also allow for fast turns, similar to a dual fin, however, with a quad, the surfer maintains more control.
The quad fin can stand up to powerful waves and not falter. Because this setup doesn’t have a centre fin, there is less drag. This yields maximum speed but doesn’t sacrifice manoeuvrability. The quad setup will take a bit of getting used to. The first time you ride, it may feel a little loose.


5 Fin
5 Fin

Although it may sound like a 5-fin setup means you attach 5 fins to your board, this is not the case.

Five fin configurations are not supposed to be surfed with all five fins.
Five fin boxes simply give you the option to mix and match fins.
Different types of setups using the various 5 boxes are used depending on your preference and the surf conditions you encounter. Basically, the more boxes your board has, the more fin options you have.
You can experience more fin setups with the same board.
Not many people ride with the 5 fin setup, most people either prefer 3 fin or 5 fin setup.

2+1 FIN

2+1 Fin
2+1 Fin

This is a 3 fin configuration, similar to a thruster/tri-fin setup. The difference here: the middle fin is a longboard single fin. The remaining 2 fins are regular thruster side fins on each side.

The middlebox is longer with a 2+1 setup. This gives you the choice to attach the middle fin more towards the front or back. This setup is gaining popularity with riders who use funboards, eggs, logs and SUPs.


Now that we have a general idea of fin setups, let’s dive into fin type. We are going to look at glassed-in fins vs. swappable (removable) fins. It is important to know the differences between the two and what each is used for.

The biggest aspect of glassed-in fins is that they are not interchangeable. They are permanently attached to your board. These fins are usually very smooth and offer a nice ride. However, because they can’t be taken on and off, they limit your versatility. This also poses expensive repairs when the fins get damaged.

Removable fins offer lots of versatility because you can take them on and off. These types of fins are screwed into your surfboard via “boxes”. Swappable fins are taken on and off using what’s called a fin key. The key adjusts the small screws and is very simple to do. Different types of fins are used in the corresponding type of boxes. Don’t force a fin into the wrong type of box and make sure the fin is being attached the right way. Once the fins are attached to the correct box in the correct position, you simply tighten the screws. It’s really that simple.

If you decide removable fins are the right fit for you, there are a few things to know about the boxes used to attach the fins to your board. There are a few different types to choose from.


The only surfboard that is widely compatible with many different fin boxes are longboards. Most all other surfboard styles are a little more specific with what’s required. These boards will generally be equipped with one of three different box types.

FCS (Fin Control System) came out in the 1990s and has since been the most popular fin system used by surfers worldwide. The FCS fins are attached by two tabs or plugs that are screwed into the board. FCS recently released the FCS II keyless Fin Standard. This option does not require screws or a fin key to attach and remove the fins. FCS II is also backwards compatible. This means you can use your older FCS fins with the new FCS II system. All that’s required is a compatibility kit.
More info: FCS Fins (opens a new window)

The other common type of fin box is a single tab (futures). The single tab fin box connects to the entire length of the of the fin box (unlike boxes with plugs). This box type offers a strong, lightweight connection to the surfboard. These boxes are also attached with screws.
More info: Future fins (opens a new window)

Different Aspects Of Your Fins To Keep In Mind

Bigger fins will offer a tighter feel. More of the board’s surface is in direct contact with the water. On the other hand, small fins will offer a looser feel. Of course, it gets a touch more technical than that, as there’s a lot more to it.

As you might imagine, the flexibility of a fin will affect how your board will handle certain waves. Fins that are stiffer will respond quickly but don’t allow for much give. These fins are great for all skill levels. They are quite stable and predictable. A stiff fin works best in hollow waves.

A flexible fin is best used with playful waves. They offer a much skatier feel. These fins are ideal for fast turns but are harder to control. Of course, it’s not as simple of just stiff versus flexible. Fins have flex patterns. This means that certain fins may have a stiffer base while the tip is flexier. A fin-like this can offer a rider stability while simultaneously providing agility.

The fin base measurement refers to the part of the fin that is directly attached to the board. The longer the base, the more drive and speed you can expect. When a rider turns the surfboard, pressure is put against the base of the fin which increases their speed. If you choose a fin with a smaller base you won’t feel as much drive but you’ll see more success with quick, short moves.

When looking at a fin, the rake (sweep) refers to how far the fin tilts to the back. A fin with less rake will make it easier to turn fast, while a fin with more rake will help riders with longer turns. If you enjoy big, playful waves, you’ll want to opt for more rake. If you are a quick turning, fast rider, you may choose less rake.

The toe (splay) refers to the angle of the fins on the side in comparison the fin in the middle. Side fins are usually described as toed-in. This means the front of the fin is angled towards the middle of the board. This angle allows water pressure to build on the outside of the fins and helps the rider with responsiveness.

The term foil refers to the curve and shape of outer and inner sides of the fin. The thinnest part will be near the tip and thicker part near the fin’s base. Different types of foil will alter the way water flows over the surface of your fin. This will, of course affect the way your fins and board perform. Your middle fins will always be symmetrical and convex on both the inner and outer sides. This is sometimes called 50/50, signaling even stability and water distribution. Your outside fins will typically be convex on the outer side and flat or curved on the inner side. A flat inside will give the rider more balance and control as well as speed. A concave or curved inside will offer less drag which helps build speed and gives more fluidity.

The height, sometimes called the depth, is the measurement from the fin base to the very tip. This feature can affect how stable your board feels through turns. Typically, the taller the fin, the more forgiving and easier it is to handle. For more advanced riders who will be doing quicker, more trick turns, shorter fins offer a smoother ride.

The degree that your fins tilt in regards to the surfboard’s base is called the cant. When the angle of the fin to the board is completely straight up and down, it’s at 90 degrees; this means it has a 90 degree cant. A 90 degree cant is also called “no cant” because it has no angle. When you have a 90 degree cant, you will usually ride faster. Any angling that is greater than 90 degrees will give you better response. Surfers will cant their fins to help feel more control of the board and increase responsiveness. Canted fins are especially helpful through turns. Fins with no cant will give you speed, but offer less playfulness. When you give your fins a little cant they’ll allow for more maneuverability and a looser feel.


When learning about fins, it can be a lot to take in. There are so many different choices and aspects to consider. The best advice we can offer is to try different combinations until you find what feels best for you personally. Think of it as test driving a car. Test out different fin types and setups to get a sense of how each feels for you.


•For a playful setup, add small fins with a little flex and sweep to a stiff surfboard

•For a faster ride with more drive, add stiff, big fins with a lot of sweep to a soft board

•The terms cluster and placement of the fins mean how close together or far apart they are on the surfboard

•The more spread out a fin cluster is, the more control the rider will have; the closer together a cluster is, the more speed and response the rider will feel

•Where you place your fins in relation to the tail of your surfboard will change how it feels. Fins attached more towards the front will feel looser. While fins more towards the back will give the surfer a more controlled feel

•Wide-tailed boards are usually best paired with bigger fins

•Surfers who prefer shortboards and ride bigger waves will benefit most from fins with more rake

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned a little bit about the world of surfboard fins. Happy riding!

In need of good waves?

At Swell we provide Learn how to surf holidays for people that have never surfed before as welll as a great social place to stay for advanced and expert surfers looking for a cool, comfortable & social place to stay. We offer full packages which include:

  • Airport transfers
  • Breakfast and 4 dinners
  • Comfortable & stylish accommodation
  • surfboard rentals and surf transport
  • A great social vibe


Located on the scenic north coast of the Dominican Republic is our purpose built surf resort

We cater for surfers of all levels, from beginners to expert surfers who are looking for an active surf holiday

Swell offers full surf packages holidays


More info on wingsurfing

We hope to see you in the Dominican republic soon

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active learn to surf holiday


Surfboard shaping and design have both changed significantly over the last few decades. Shaping trends are constantly changing. In the seventies, the twin-fin fish began to dominate line ups. Surfers were completely enthralled by the newfound speed and maneuverability of a shorter board. In the eighties, the thruster was designed and changed performance surfing forever. In the nineties and into the new millennium, high-performance boards were long, thin, and completely rockered out for maximum maneuverability. Today, high-performance boards are getting shorter and fatter with an increased focus on the volume under the chest. But what do all these design features really do? How does a board with low entry rocker compare to one with plenty of rocker when you’re actually surfing? What’s the difference in feel between a single fin, a twin fin, a thruster, and a quad? If you’ve ever wanted to know the ins and outs of surfboard design, you are in the right place. From design to function, this article explores all the intricacies of board design



Length is a pretty intuitive design feature. The length is the measure of the surfboard from the tip of the nose to the tail. But there is more to length than one might think. Just a few inches taken or added to a board will create a noticeably different ride. The basic school of thought when it comes to length is that the more length a board has, the easier it will be to catch waves. Surfers may ride longboards on small days, or when the surf is maxing out, they may opt for larger step-ups and even big wave guns for help paddling into waves that would be otherwise too large and too fast to catch.


Width is the measurement of a surfboard across the board at its widest point. Width plays a role in a few different aspects of surfing. The more surface area a board has, the more it will float, the easier it is to paddle, and the easier it is to catch waves. One way shapers achieve this increased surface area without adding length to a board is by increasing width. Small wave grovelers often feature wide tails; this allows surfers to catch more waves. A board with a wide nose might do well in small surf, but it struggles in large surf with steep faces because a narrow nose allows for a steep drop.


Volume has always been an important variable in surfboard design, but it is only recently that shapers and surfers alike are starting to pay close attention to it. There has been a surplus of high volume shortboards coming to market in the last five years. While it may be true that more surface area increases a boards ability to catch waves, it is only true because more surface area adds more total volume. The volume is the amount of space the board occupies: the combination of height, width, and thickness. Today, shapers are paying extra attention to volume and using it to cut inches and even feet off traditional shortboards. By putting more volume under the chest of any board, a shaper is able to reduce the length significantly. With a reduced length, the board becomes more maneuverable.

See the surfboard volume calculator (opens in new window)


The tail is the back end of the surfboard. Its shape and thickness directly affect the performance of the board on a wave. The shape of the tail either allows the board to maintain hold on a wave’s face through a turn or release quickly. For example, a rounded tail can hold, but a tail with a wing feature or a swallow tail release the board from the waves face.


Rails are the edges of the board. Rails affect boards speed, planning ability, and tube riding ability. Thick rails, for example, will plane well and allow for a lot of speed. A hard, low rail has plenty of hold to the waves face, perfect for a good tube riding.


Rocker is a term that refers to the curvature of the board. A dramatic, heavy, or steep rocker will be more curved, while a flat rocker will be less curved. A steep rocker at the nose of the board allows the surfer to take steep drops. Contrastingly, a board that has a steep tail rocker or a steep rocker for the length of the board allows the surfer more maneuverability because the board has fewer contact points on a wave and therefore, less drag. High-performance boards often have intricate rockers that allow surfers to perform in steep, dynamic surf. Small wave boards often have flat rockers allowing the board to plane and maintain speed through slow sections of the wave.


Foil refers to the thickness of the board or the distribution of foam from nose to tail. Foil has been a key component of the recent focus on volume. Putting a large amount of volume under the chest requires a combination of added width and thickness. While the thickness of the noise, middle, and tail of the surfboard may weigh heavily on the board’s performance, they allow for increased paddle ease and ability to catch waves.


Fins propel the board forward, dictate the turning radius, create hold on a waves face, and much more. So obviously, fin set up directly affects the board’s performance and feel. While there are a few novelty few setups that have gone in and out of fashion over the years, such as the bonzer or the asymmetrical setup, there are four standard fin setups: single fin, thruster, twin fin, and quad.


The thruster (3 fins) is, perhaps, today’s most common fin set up. When the thruster first appeared on the scene during the 1980s, most surfers were riding twin fins that offered a lot of speed, but not much maneuverability. The addition of the back fin provided surfers enough control to be able to turn on a dime. The thruster set up allows surfers to change direction with ease and carve out massive turns on an open face. This increased maneuverability completely changed progressive surfing and brought about the power surfing style that was popularized in the ’90s.


The twin fin came into popularity during the 1970s with the rise of “the fish.” These unique shortboards, with two fins placed far apart, allowed surfers to reduce drag and increase speed. Twin fins are ideal, and a blast, in small to medium waves where they provide optimal maneuverability and flow.


The Quad fin set up (4 fins) leans heavily on the basic science behind the twin fin, a wide space between fins for water to flow equals speed. However, the extra two fins on the quad provide additional hold, which comes in handy in smaller waves.

Quads with the trailer fin closer to the rails and further up on the board, perform great on smaller waves, like a twin fin but with a bit more control.

Quads with the trailer fins further back provide extra hold in large hollow barrels, without sacrificing speed.


Today, most single fin surfboards are longboards, but that wasn’t always the case. Single fins offer surfers long, drawn out, arching turns. The one large fin offers plenty of hold but does not have the maneuverability of a board with three fins, regardless of the board’s length.


The deck refers to the top of the surfboard where a surfer places his or her feet. The most common deck types are domed or flat.


A surfboards bottom contour directly affect speed, turning ability, and style. A hull or convex bottom provides a smooth ride, sits low and the wave, and moves slowly. Contrastingly, a concave bottom offers a fast and maneuverable ride, allowing the board to skip along the surface of the water, push water back towards the fins, and create lift.

While the complexities of surfboard design may fall flat on many riders, the more informed you are on the matter, the more likely you are to be able to find the perfect board for your skill level and style. So, pick out that perfect board and bring it down to our Caribbean surf resort!


– The Swell article surfboard shapes give you more insight into the different types of shapes.
– New to surfing? Read the beginners surfboard guide.
– What is needed to get you into this? Read the surf equipment and accessories page.
– Don’t want to bring your surfboard to Cabarete? See our list of surfboards for rent in Cabarete


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

Adult surf camp Learn to surf in the Caribbean with us

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?


Located on the scenic north coast of the Dominican Republic is our purpose built surf resort

We cater for surfers of all levels, from beginners to expert surfers who are looking for an active surf holiday

Swell offers full surf packages holidays


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Swell is in the process of opening a new surf hotel / surf camp in Bali. Located in the Bukit peninsula of Bali, right where the best waves are. 100-meter walk from one of Indonesia’s best waves; Bingin. The same social concept as Swell in The Caribbean, it will have a large open communal area where guests can socialize, hang out and meet fellow travelers. The social aspects of a surf camp, the comforts of a surf resort. Visit Swell Bingin Surf resort

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understanding wave forecasts


Decades have passed since surf travel has required reading nautical charts, packing weather radios, and crossing your fingers that your destination had some trace of swell. Gone are the days of surf exploration, where any hidden stretch of coastline could possess the often sought after—yet rarely found—perfect wave. Today, we open our phones and we are able see what the surfs doing anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

Regardless of the local of your session, surf trip or not, getting skunked burns the same. Surf and weather forecasting might be the most advanced it has ever been, but it will do no good if you’re not quite sure how to read a forecast. Can you say without a shred of doubt that you understand the relationship between swell interval and wave size? Do you know what swell directions the best for your local break?

Can you track a swell originating halfway around the world until it makes landfall on your coast? At Swell Surf Camp, we want you to prepared and knowledgeable surfers, whether you’re surfing at our Caribbean surf resort, or at your home break. Keep reading to learn how to read and interpret surf forecasts and you’ll be sure to score on your next trip down the coast or across the world.


Wave height, it’s pretty self explanatory . Simply put, it is the height of the wave. Understanding the mix of variables that affect a wave’s height will improve a surfer’s ability to read a forecast, and ultimately lead to catching more waves. First, it is important to know that the forecasted wave height, and the height of a wave’s face are typically different. Waves are measured from the top of the peaking swell, which is not the same thing as the face. So, a 2-foot forecast on an offshore day, with the right ocean floor contour, can produce a 3 to 5-foot face.

The forecast might read 2-3 feet, but the waves face could easily be head high.

wave height surf


Failure to comprehend and properly read swell interval can lead to missing a solid surf session. Swell interval is defined as the time that passes between two waves, typically measured in seconds. Swell interval has a direct relationship to wave size in that a long interval will produce larger surf.

The concept is simple. If a wave has a long interval, it has more time to build in size. Thus, along swell interval or period —as it is often called— will create bigger surf than a short interval on with the same size swell. Longer interval swell will also produce more powerfull breaking waves.


Swell direction is another term with a self-explanatory title, it is simply the direction of the incoming swell. A swell’s direction is categorized by the direction the swell is traveling from, rather than the direction of that swells trajectory.

A swell traveling from south to north would be labeled as a south swell. How swell direction affects wave quality depends what direction the coast/ break is facing and the wind direction. If a beach is facing southwest and the incoming swell is a northwest swell, the resulting conditions will most likely be choppy.

The most common Swlel direction on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is North East, but in winter time when stronger storms are off the coats of New Work it will send waves down to the North Coast of the DR in a good North Swell. A typical North Swell in The DR will be 6 foot in height with a 13+ second interval, resulting in waves overhead to double overhead in Cabarete


Wind direction will always make the difference between average waves and great waves. If the wind is blowing onshore (towards the beach) it will flatten waves and cause chop. If the wind is blowing cross shore, it will create shop and poor wave conditions.

If the wind is blowing offshore, however, it will prop up the face of the wave and create clean surf conditions.


Regardless of what direction the wind is blowing, high wind speeds will create more difficult surfing conditions. A gentle wind is an ideal scenario for surfing. If the wind is blowing onshore, but only at a speed of 3 or 4 mph, then the conditions will most likely still be clean.

Even if the wind is directly offshore, high wind speeds will make it difficult to drop into waves.


While some breaks work at all tides, not all breaks are created equal. In the same vein, some breaks work well at high tide and others exclusively at low tide. The deciding factor has to do both with swell/ wave size and the ocean floor contour.

For example, certain reef breaks may only be safe to ride at high tide because the reef could be exposed or too shallow at low tide. Similarly, some sand bars may be too deep to effectively cause waves to break during high tide, but they may work well during low tide.

Fortunatly for us, there’s very little tidal change on the beaches of the North Coast, so you can surf in all tides



While the wave type of any given break does not fluctuate and is not technically part of your daily surf forecast, it is usually included in a small section to help you better comprehend how the wave breaks on any given day.

There are three main wave types: beach break, reef break, and point break. Each wave type can produce a left, a right, or an “A-frame” depending on the set up of the break.


A beach break is the ideal learning setting for any beginner surfer. Beach breaks have sand floors, meaning that they have surfers who hit the bottom have a low risk of injury. Waves break over sand bars (rather than reefs), which can shift significantly during a day creating several peaks.

Additionally, wave energy pounds into the sand and has nowhere to go but up and out, which creates an arduous paddle out during a large swell.


A reef break is any wave that breaks over some type of submerged rock formation. There are a variety of types of reef breaks, some of which are beginner/ intermediate friendly and some of which that are advanced only.


A submerged reef break is the only variety that could be considered beginner to intermediate friendly. While every beginner surfer should start out on a beach break, once they have mastered the pop-up and are able to successfully ride down the line at will, riding a submerged reef break is not out of the question.

A submerged reef break is not a live coral reef, the ocean floor is made up of rock that has been covered by sand. While you don’t’ necessarily want to get slammed into a submerged reef, you won’t hurt yourself by walking on it.


Coral Reefs are, are full of, living organisms. Coral is sharp, simply stepping on coral can cause injury. Additionally, many coral reefs can be full of sea urchins that’ll ruin any surfer’s day. Coral reefs, regardless of the depth of water at the break, should only be surfed by intermediate to advanced surfers.


Similarly, rock reefs can put a serious damper on your day if you come into contact with them during a wipeout. While the rocks may not be sharp (they often are though), they may still be riddled with sea urchins just waiting to impale you. Depending on the depth of water over the reef, rock reefs should only be ridden by intermediate to advanced surfers.


Point breaks cater to surf progression. Point breaks are generally slow breaking, mellow rides that often offer up ideal sections for carving and turning. A point break is caused by an obtrusive land or underwater mass—often rock— that runs perpendicular to the wave/shoreline.

The protruding mass will cause the peak of the break to present itself at roughly the same place every single wave, which can crowd the lineup, but offers workable sections for intermediate surfers looking to improve.

Armed with the newfound knowledge of an amateur meteorologist, you are ready to take to the sea, plan your next surf trip to Swell Surf Camp, or drive down to the coast to catch some waves!


The surf forecasts we use the most in Cabarete are Magicseaweed (opens a new window) and Windguru (opens new window) which is very reliable for wave and wind forecasts for surfers and kitesurfers.

In need of good waves?

At Swell we provide Learn how to surf holidays for people that have never surfed before as welll as a great social place to stay for advanced and expert surfers looking for a cool, comfortable & social place to stay. We offer full packages which include:

  • Airport transfers
  • Breakfast and 4 dinners
  • Comfortable & stylish accommodation
  • surfboard rentals and surf transport
  • A great social vibe


We hope to see you in the Dominican republic soon

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Stand up paddle surf



Like it or not, sometimes, there are just no waves to be surfed. On the North Coast of the Dominican republic this is very rare, but 5 to 10 days per year the waves get smaller than knee high. This is something which is naturally disappointing if you have travelled to a particular destination intent on catching some swell, though there are many other exciting and fun ocean activities which you can certainly try if the waves are flat. These will perhaps provide you with an altogether different experience and feel of the ocean than surfing. Nonetheless, they still have the potential to be amazingly fun and increase your overall appreciation of the ocean when the surf is not up.


Stand-up paddleboarding is something which many surf enthusiasts have likely already tried. If not, then anyone with some decent experience on the board will take to this ocean activity in no time at all. There is something very tranquil and peaceful about SUP. This activity allows you to glide, almost effortlessly across the ocean.

Stand up paddle surf

During this experience, you are bound to experience some moments of peaceful enlightenment. SUP is growing steadily in popularity with many beautiful global destinations keen to offer this for periods during which the waves are calm. It is also relatively easy for a novice surfer to pick up.
As mentioned, it is a great way to improve board confidence which you can then transition into your surfing experiences. Check out the center for surf research for some awesome information on all things sustainable, and some great information on the best paddleboards to suit your style. As with any activity, it takes some learning and practice which is best performed with the right equipment. Once you get the hang of paddleboarding though, it is perfect for those days when the waves are flat, or you just feel like a more relaxing cruise along the coast. Some have even been known to commute via paddleboard.


Another water-based sport for the times when the ocean is calm, although this can be either relaxing or exhilarating depending on your preference. Naturally, you can have some great experiences kayaking the oceans when the waves are low. There are many different types of kayak suitable for one or two people which are usually highly durable and easy to transport to your destination.
watersport holiday
Besides just paddling around, you could explore some nearby caves, or just admire the views and the stunning ocean from your location.
Kayaking is very easy to pick up for beginners in terms of a learning curve, and you can be out on the ocean in no time at all. The fantastic thing about kayaking is thanks to the safety and security of most kayaks, you can go out in groups and enjoy a really fun day in the ocean.

Why not bring some lunch and aim for a nearby sandbar or beach to explore for the day. All of this will be possible depending upon your location. This is one of the most enjoyable pursuits for many who want a break from surfing but still wish to enjoy the qualities of the ocean from above. Certain forms of kayaking can also provide the thrill which many surfers often seek, although these are most often found in rivers rather than with ocean kayaking. Either way, it presents a great opportunity to view the ocean from the surface in all of its splendour.


Moving below the surface, snorkelling can be an easily accessible, yet life-transforming experience under the correct conditions when the waves are not on your side for surfing. With just a few easy to acquire pieces of equipment, you can begin exploring what lies beneath that beautiful ocean which you often surf. For many, this can be a truly transformative experience. Seeing the beauty of life, flora, and fauna which is just below our feet can be a powerful moment.

snorkeling sosua
Ultimately, snorkelling is a fun activity which you can also enjoy at your leisure with a partner or younger family members without any fear of injury or accident, and if you are lucky, you may get to capture some picturesque moments along the way. Certain areas are of course more suitable than others. These include areas such as Cebu, the Philippines which is famous for its amazing snorkelling experiences where swimmers can interact with whale sharks up close.

There are many of these types of experiences offered, usually in the deeper waters, but if you are just curious to check out what is beneath the usual surf, this is the ideal activity of choice for you on the next calm ocean day.
Swell offers snorkeling trips to Sosua for our clients, see more information on the adventure day trips we offer


If you have tried and enjoyed snorkelling but wish to go quite a lot deeper and become fully immersed, then scuba may be the ideal direction for you. Naturally, this is not something which you can decide to do on a whim. It will take a lot of learning and dedication to become an accomplished diver. Even getting started as a beginner can be a daunting task. It is also though, one of the most rewarding experiences which any ocean lover can undertake.

Suba Diving dominican republic
Exploring deep below the surface, you will likely encounter many breathtaking scenes which you simply could not comprehend from above. This gives most of us an entirely new perspective on ocean life, and can greatly enhance our future surfing experiences. From having the ability to view shipwrecks to the most diverse ranges of aquatic life, this is certainly one of the most impressive and energizing experiences you can engage in, and in fact, it goes much further beyond just something to do when the surf is not good. Both activities though can certainly be learned and enjoyed at the same time.
You can also check an interesting article on underwater scooters for scuba diving on Cape Boating


If all of the above sound like a lot of hard work to you, you could always decide to take to the ocean in a different form of transport entirely. One activity loss is another’s gain. Sailing is one activity which certainly relies on calm seas, quite the opposite to what would be ideal for surfing. Of course, this is another activity which requires some preparation, you need to have the use of a sailing boat for a start. Once this is the case, however, there is often no better or more exciting way to traverse the open sea, depending on the type of sailboat you are using.

Laser sailing
Sailing can be smooth and relaxing or also hard work. It really depends on who is doing the sailing, however, as a passenger it can provide a fantastic sense of freedom and adventure. There are many stories of solo or tea sailboats travelling the world. This open approach to the ocean provides a sense of escape which is unattainable through an activity such as surfing. With someone else in control, it can also be a relaxing way to experience your surroundings from a more distant and comfortable viewpoint.


Of course, under ideal circumstances, the waves will be fantastic and perfect for surfing. As experienced surfers, however, we know that this is not always the case and that unexpected changes in conditions can drastically alter your plans for the day. As we can see from the above ocean activities, though, there is no shortage of other options to pursue when the sea conditions are calm. Whichever other activity you choose to spend your time on will open up your eyes to viewing the ocean in a new light, and will likely also provide the entertainment or relaxation you require.

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surf wave selection

4 Tips For Perfect Wave Selection

How do you get perfect wave selection?
Is perfection even possible? Maybe.
Waves are a funny thing, every wave is different, but they can look quite similar. Predicting how a wave will break may seem like a difficult task, but don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to get yourself prepared, and we’ve got four great tips right here to improve your wave selection.


In order to get perfect wave selection, you need to know your surf break in and out… or at least know what makes your spot tick.
Several factors go in to creating a surfable wave at your break.

Distant storms

It usually starts by a storm far out at sea. Powerful winds wash over the ocean, creating friction in the surface of the water. Over time, this friction builds up more and more, to create powerful swell that can travel over entire oceans. Once the waves reach shallower water, your surf break for example, they jack up in size and fold over themselves.

This is what we call breaking waves, or “surfable waves”.

Know what your break needs

To have those perfect, glassy waves of your dreams, a number of factors must come together.
At your surf break, we’re talking:

  • Wind speed
  • Wind direction
  • Tide
  • Swell direction
  • Wave periods

If the wave period is too short, with howling onshore winds, in an extreme high tide, chances are that the waves won’t be very good.
With terrible conditions, chances are most of the surfed waves will be pretty terrible too.

Perfect offshore winds
Perfect offshore winds

For perfect conditions, usually you’re looking for:

  • Light winds
  • Offshore winds (blowing across the beach towards the ocean, the opposite is onshore) (Light onshore if you love to pop airs)
  • The best tide for your surf break (check online)
  • Swell direction pointing directly towards your surf break
  • Longer wave periods, over 10 seconds.


Surfing in great conditions will make it way easier to select your perfect wave… … but as you already know, perfect conditions aren’t always there.

That’s why we strongly recommend you to surf in lesser-than-perfect conditions as well. If you can develop perfect wave selection in subpar conditions, chances are you will absolutely excel on those good days. Just don’t go out in hurricanes or anything too crazy.

Research your break

Research your surf break online. See what weather conditions and type of swell makes your surf break go nuts. Read up on the best tide, wind direction, swell direction and type of swell. Then go surf as much as you can on those good days.

2. Watch the waves

Playa Encuentro
Empty wave at our local surf spot in Cabarete

Watching the waves is a big one and goes hand in hand with our first tip. You first need to know about the perfect conditions for your surf break, to know when it’s go time. Then, you need to spend some time watching the waves when you get there.

It doesn’t have to be an hour long watching session… but in order to build up your perfect wave selection, you need to see how the ocean behaves before you paddle in. This could be done when doing your warm-up stretches, or when debating where to paddle out with your friend.
When watching the waves, there are a few things you should look for.

Find the peak

Surf line up
The Line up

“The peak” of a wave, means the position where the wave will start breaking first. Or, the ideal place to paddle and surf the wave.
You should always try to catch the wave right at the peak, to gain maximum speed and momentum. Shoulder hopping doesn’t do you any favors (on super crowded days we’ve all been there though…) and will limit your progress.

Look for where the line-up is and see where the other surfers are. Hopefully, most or at least a few surfers will know where the best place to sit is.

See how the waves break

In order to perfect your wave selection ability, you need to watch how the waves are breaking.

Are they mainly lefthanders? Righthanders? Is it a slower, mushier wave, or a fast, steaming, barreling freigh train? See if you can spot different sections in the wave. How many waves are in each set? Which wave is the biggest, and how far apart are the sets?

Having crystal clear knowledge about the waves you’re going to surf is critical for perfect wave selection.

If you don’t know which waves you want to surf, how could you see them in the line-up?

Other things (not necessarily related to wave selection) to look for include:

  • Entry/exit points
  • Rip currents
  • Hazards (rocks, dry reef, structures etc.)

It makes a lot of sense to know what you’re getting yourself in to before paddling out, which is why this is so important.
Watching the waves accomplishes three things:

-You develop a greater understanding of your break and the current surfing conditions
-You know which waves you want to catch…
-And which waves you don’t.

3. How to read waves

While in the water, having the ability to read waves is essential for perfect wave selection.
Imagine, you’re sitting on your board in the line-up, waiting for the next wave… you are first in line and stoked. The next set comes in. A huge, dark wall is

coming at you fast. Almost in an instant, you have to make the decision of whether to go, or to bail.

Incoming wave
Spotting an incoming wave

How do you even know if it’s a good wave? Are you in a section that will just close out or are you in perfect position?

When to paddle

There is quite a simple technique you can use to read how a wave is going to act.
First off, use the horizon as a reference. Compare the angles of the incoming wave to the vertical line. The picture beside shows what an incoming wave could look like. You could be closer to the right or left side, or you could be right in the center. What does this mean? When should you paddle?

The parts of a wave

left wavesLooking at the wave coming at you, the left side is called a “right” because you go right when you surf it. The right side is called a “left” because you surf it to the left.
On the left and right side, you see the ends of the wave. This is called the shoulders of the wave. Shoulder hopping means catching the waves far out on the shoulders and should be avoided. The shoulders lack the power and speed that the peak provides.


Beware of closeouts (a wave “shutting down”). On an incoming wave, it’s quite easy to tell whether it’s a closeout or not. Any part of a wave that’s parallel to the horizon (vertical) will break first. Only the angled parts of a wave will break slower. In the example below, pretty much the whole middle part of the wave would break at once.

Is it a slow or fast breaking section?

The more vertical the wave is, the faster it will break. A steeper angle will break slower. In the example below, the right hander on this wave would break faster than the left hander. Why is it like this? Physics. And gravity-stuff… I don’t know.

Which direction do you surf?

If the wave looks exactly like in the picture, with both the option of going left and right, you have to make out which side you are closest too. If you are closer to the right, you catch and surf the right hander. Closer to the left? Then you surf the left hander.
What’s important is that you catch the wave in the steepest part of the wave, “the peak”. Then you ride towards the shoulder you are closest too. Or in other words, along the direction of the brea

4. Adapt your surfing

To get the most out of each wave, it’s important to adapt your surfing to the waves you surf.
You now know which conditions make your surf break great. You have watched the waves. With the surfboard around your arm, you sprint down to the beach, adrenaline rushing through your system.
Reading waves is now a piece of cake. You now know whether it’s a right or left hander and have some ideas on how to surf it. You also know where the peak is located and have decided on your focused location in the line-up.

Now what?

Adapt your surfing to the conditions you’re about to surf
If it’s a smaller day and a bit onshore, with fast sections, try working on your airs. Maybe work on your bottom turns or quick snaps. If it’s barreling but closing out, work on getting tucked in the barrel. Practice steep, fast drops. Work on getting pounded.
Make it clear in your mind before you jump in, what kind of surfing you are going to do with the waves of the day. This way you take full advantage.

You vs. Perfect wave selection
Perfect waves only exist on the most perfect of days. And the perfect days could almost always get better…
The key to selecting the perfect wave is to know which wave you want. And paddle for it.

In need of good waves?

At Swell we provide Learn how to surf holidays for people that have never surfed before as welll as a great social place to stay for advanced and expert surfers looking for a cool, comfortable & social place to stay. We offer full packages which include:

  • Airport transfers
  • Breakfast and 4 dinners
  • Comfortable & stylish accommodation
  • surfboard rentals and surf transport
  • A great social vibe


We hope to see you in the Dominican republic soon

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surf fitness exercises

The Best Strength Exercises to Improve Your Surfing

Last week we focussed on cross training exercises to get your surf fitness up. Today we focus on the best strength exercises for surf fitness

Surfing is not like most sports: there’s no running clock, there’s no designated playing area, and there is certainly no prescribed training regime that works for all athletes. Many would argue that surfing is not a sport, but rather a lifestyle.

Hanging out at the beach in front of our Caribbean Surf Resort and catching waves certainly doesn’t feel like a sport. Regardless of one’s views on where surfing fits into the sporting world, no one can deny that surfing is physically demanding. Simply paddling out on a decent sized day requires a well-tested cardiovascular engine and a fit upper body. Catching a wave and popping up entails heightened agility and ample flexibility.

While the act of actually riding a wave and carving demands intense core strength and sturdy legs. Not all surfers are the type to hit the gym and pump serious iron, and that’s ok. Bulky muscle is not conducive to paddling, anyways. To achieve an optimal level of surf fitness, one needs the perfect blend of strength and muscle endurance. Dive in below, to check out Swell’s:


1. Pushups

surf-fitness-exercisesThis may seem obvious, but the simple push up is a highly effective, yet often overlooked, tool for building upper body strength and endurance. The good thing about the push-up, as with any bodyweight exercise, you won’t build bulky, excess mass.

Instead, you will build functional upper body strength that is proportionate to your body weight. Work to perform a high number of reps at a high intensity. Set a lofty goal, like 100, 200, or 300 push-ups, and see how long it takes you to get there. Like paddling, the pushup, or press up as it is often referred to across the pond, requires a blend of strength and muscle endurance.

2. Pull-ups

Surf strenghtLike the pushup, the pull up is another phenomenal bodyweight exercise that will build functional strength relative to one’s body weight, not bulky, unnecessary mass, so an ideal surf fitness exercise. Similarly to how we described the pushup, with the pullup we want to build our rep capacity.

Start with a reasonable number like 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 and attempt to execute that many reps in as few sets as possible. As you get stronger, set your rep goals higher. Unlike the pushup, the pull up does, somewhat, mimic paddle movement and work the large muscles in the back (the lats) that are activated during paddling.

3. Inverted Rows

surf strenght exercisesOften used as a scaled down pull-up substitute, inverted rows are a great way to strengthen your lats, the small muscles in your upper back, and your rear deltoids (all paddle muscles). As stated previously, if you cannot do a pull-up, inverted rows are a great place to start. To perform lay horizontal below a suspension trainer or secured barbell. The higher off the ground the suspension trainer/barbell, the easier the exercise will be.

With your heels planted on the ground, grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart, or hold your suspension trainer in a neutral position slightly wider than shoulder width. Pull your chest towards the bar/ suspension trainer. As you pull, keep your core tight and hips up, in line with the rest of your body. As your chest moves higher, pinch your shoulder blades together to activate the smaller muscles in your back. Perform three sets of ten.

4. Handstand Push Up

hand stand exerciseHandstand push-ups might sound intimidating, but they are not as difficult as they may look and they have a myriad of benefits that will directly improve your surfing. Handstand pushups target your deltoids, which are used heavily when we paddle. What makes Handstand pushups superior to any old overhead press, for surf training specifically, is that like the aforementioned push-up and pull up, handstand pushups build lean muscle and functional strength relative to one’s body weight.

To perform, place a pad about 12 inches from the wall.
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width on the sides of the pad and kick your feet up so that you are in a full handstand position with your heels supported by the wall. Lower your head slowly down until it is resting on the pad and then push up to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 5-10 reps.
Here is a good article on how to get started with handstand push ups (opens a new window)

5. Pike Push Up

For those not quite ready to kick up onto a wall and crank out handstand pushups, the pike push-up is the ideal substitute.

Like the handstand push-up, the pike push-up targets our shoulder muscles (deltoids), which are crucial in paddling. To perform a pike push-up, place your feet on a bench or box, with your hands on the ground, wider than shoulder width, shape your body like an inverted L. With your torso vertical, and your legs horizontal, lower your head down to the floor between your hands, and press back up.

6. Suspension Trainer Rear Delt Fly

The small muscles in our back our crucial for paddle endurance, but they are often overlooked in training. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to keep your rhomboids and surrounding muscles fit. You don’t need to use a lot of weight, in fact, you only need to use a fraction of your body weight. Suspension trainer rear delt flies are a great way to train these muscles and you can do it virtually anywhere.

To perform, grab the suspension trainer handles and hold them together vertically, at arm’s length away from your chest. Walk forward a few steps and lean back so that your body is hanging at a slight incline, supported by the suspension trainer. Firmly gripping each handle, with your elbows slightly bent, pull the handles apart, while simultaneously pinching your shoulder blades together. Perform 3 sets of ten, focusing on control and maintaining a slow movement throughout the set.

7. Burpee Box Jumps

If you’re looking for an intense way to train explosiveness, like that required in a pop up during a steep drop, look no further than the burpee box jump. Yes, it is as brutal as it sounds, but the combination of these two already explosive exercises create the perfect pop up trainer. The burpee portion mimics the pop-up movement, training muscle memory, while the box jump adds lower body strength training and explosiveness to the equation.

To perform, stand in front of a box slightly further than an arm’s length away. Drop to the ground, chest to the floor with your arms tucked at your side like you are about to perform a push-up. Then, explode off the floor back into a standing position and in one movement, execute the box jump.

8. Bosu Ball Stability Squats

This exercise is a tad more advanced than some of the others, but if executed properly and regularly, it will enhance your surfing ability. The Bosu Ball is a unique piece of fitness equipment that allows you to train strength and balance simultaneously.

If you can already properly execute a squat while balancing on a Bosu Ball, consider adding weight. If you’ve already added weight, try adding uneven loads, like one kettlebell overhead, and alternate sides. To perform, place the Bosu Ball ball side down and stand on the platform with your feet shoulder distance apart. Slowly and carefully, lower yourself down into a squat position. Make sure your knees never go past your heals. Add weight if necessary.

9. Rowing

The erg machine might be the best piece of equipment in the gym for total body surf training. Rowing recruits massive amounts of lower body strength, arm and back strength, muscle endurance, and heavy aerobic activity. Whether you’re training to paddle hard, toss buckets on turns, or to last hours in the lineup rowing is the exercise for you. To start, try rowing 1000 meters for time.

The most important part of training and getting in shape, is finding something that works well for you and that will keep you motivated. If you can surf every day, do it. There is no better surf training than surfing itself. If you can’t surf every day, hit the gym, the pool, the yoga studio, or the trail.

This article: Surf fitness exercises is part of our Swell instructional how to surf blog posts. Other popular episodes are:


Have a look and see what a surf holiday with Swell is all about. We offer learn how to surf holidays for adults looking for an active & social water sport holiday. But we also offer a stylish and comfortable place to stay for people that already know how to surf.

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surf fitness

7 Cross Training Tips for Peak Surfing Performance


We all want to be able to ride the waves like a true champion. When you first begin surfing, no matter the age, you are both excited and motivated to take on this new challenge. As many will attest though, despite any amount of youthful confidence in your earliest lessons, many are shocked to discover that the challenge of being the next pro surfing great, is indeed greater than they anticipated.

Not to be discouraged though, many new and experienced boarders will simply bounce back up and give it another go. There are several exercises and tips you can incorporate though if you really want to maximize your ability and potential on the board. Here are 7 of the best to improve your surf fitness:


skiing surf fitnessMany may recommend snowboarding here, and whilst practicing another board sport is an excellent way to prepare for the open water, skiing just adds that extra dynamic of having your feet move more freely. This is something which absolutely helps to improve your focus, and given the unpredictability of the waves on occasion, we feel like I is a similar match for that of the mountain and the obstacles which it presents.

Working on your skiing will help you focus on a variety of areas which are considered essential in surfing too. These include knowing where your feet are positioned and how to direct them at all times. Besides this great footwork training, you will also get accustomed to dealing with the reality of falling down but getting right back up again. This is something which is likely no more perfect to prepare you for the life beyond the TV glamour of learning to surf, which undoubtedly will involve many horizontal moments.


swimm surf fitnessIt seems like an obvious selection, but as a reminder to some who may have overlooked it, swimming is the most important skill which any surfer must possess. It is after all a water sport, and you will indeed find yourself in the ocean on more occasions than you may expect. This is key through all stages of your surfing development. As you start to become more accomplished, sure you become a better surfer, being a top quality swimmer suddenly becomes all the more important.

The added advantage with bringing top notch swimming skills to the water add is that you will have the confidence in swimming so that you do not fear falling from the board. This can be a key tool in helping you overcome challenges when learning. As any surfer will tell you, the water often feels like their second home, this is particularly useful at times when you feel challenged by boarding techniques.


skateboard fitness
Another board sport which many surfers gravitate toward and vice versa. Skateboarding is ideal from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint when you are learning to surf. It helps you identify the best boards that suit your style. FinBin is an awesome resource for choosing your surfboard, but skating really gets you in the groove in terms of identifying what you need and prefer.
As a more experienced surfer, it is not always possible to get on the water, that could be due to poor conditions or a variety of other reasons. Skateboarding is perfect for keeping your skills honed and on point when you can’t make it to the surf. Achieving your potential really requires constant practice and keeping those skills sharp at all times. This is one of the primary reasons you will find many of the world’s top surfers at your nearest skate park on the off-season.


dance to surf fitnessThis next training technique is a bit of a curve ball for many. Dancing can have a number of benefits to see you reach peak performance on the board. How is that possible? – Movement. This movement and most importantly coordination with your partner in dancing, can easily transfer across onto the board. Knowing where your feet are positioned at all times is vital when boarding and dancing.

Timing, movement and coordination are all vital parts of both activities, therefore it actually makes perfect sense that the best surfers in the world should spend some time on the dancefloor perfecting their moves. That said, if you have two left feet on the dancefloor, don’t worry too much. There are many other methods you can use to reach peak performance in surfing as we have outlined.


surf fitnessThis is a broader concept, but staying upright on a surfboard requires a lot of core strength. Not only that, but getting back up on to your board and keeping your balance are all centered on the core of the body. Therefore, anything you can do to boost your core strength will result in positive results in the swell.
Luckily for us, many of the exercises mentioned here are also fundamentally based around improving your core strength, so in many cases these activities come with multiple benefits to help you get the best out of your surfing potential.


cross to surf fitWhat better way to boost that core strength we just mentioned than engaging in one of the trending exercises of the moment. CrossFit training will absolutely help boost your core strength and that of the rest of your muscle groups whilst also promoting and improving agility. There is so much crossover here which can help you with your surfing performance that most top guides nowadays would actively encourage registering yourself with a CrossFit program.
Naturally, this strength and agility will help you on the board, but it should also serve to boost your self confidence in that beach body too! This is something which cannot be underestimated when boarding and getting the most out of your performance. Having the ability and confidence to test yourself and not be afraid of failure is absolutely vital.


calisthenics for surfWhen we talk about movement, agility, and flexibility, we absolutely must give a mention to calisthenics. This makes us focus on all of those areas and boosts a number of the areas which we have already discussed. This attention to bodily movements and the amazing boost which some of the workouts will give you raw core strength is vital if you want to take to the waves and be the best that you can be.
A final key area where calisthenics proves invaluable to surfers is focus. Focus and clarity of the mind may be one of the single most important attributes a surfer possesses. Having the ability to focus on themselves and the challenges they face, without distraction. This is something relevant to any professional sport and particularly surfing. That is a primary reason why you will see many top surfers and athletes in general now engaging in more and more calisthenics training. Try This Beginner’s Calisthenics Workout ( opens a new window)


Of course, much of a really elite level surfer’s skill comes from a profound level of natural ability. Desire and motivation to reach those challenging goals are also vital. Having the right type of equipment too. What we have outlined though is that through training, in any area, there are multiple ways in which you can improve your own performance and skill level.

Working hard and training hard is a vital element in any sport or profession, surfing is no different. With multiple options to choose from, there is no excuse not to engage and derive some benefit from any of the activities mentioned which can ultimately translate to you improving your surfing skills regardless of your level.

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