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There is nothing more exhilarating in life than catching a huge wave and riding it to shore. Have you ever thought about the differences between surfing in the morning or afternoon? Have you ever noticed one of these times offers you a better surfing experience?

Which is a better time to surf: morning or afternoon? Why would one be better than the other? We hope to answer this question in its entirety so you can better understand how the time of day plays into your surfing experience.

woman surfing on large wave

Wind Affects Your Surfing Experience

Seasoned surfers know the importance of wind and how it relates to their surfing experience, but if you are new to surfing, you may be unaware. The best surfing conditions occur when there is a light offshore wind or even no wind at all.

Offshore wind means the wind direction runs from the shore to the ocean. Offshore wind allows the waves to break cleanly, and they become larger.

If the wind is onshore, the water becomes overly stirred, resulting in choppy waves that never grow large enough to catch. All surfers know big waves are where they want to be on the ocean.

The ocean changes throughout the day due to wind cycles. If you want to know which time of the day is best for catching waves, keep reading.

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surfer on a wave infographic

Is Morning or Afternoon Best for Surfing?

Anyone who has ever surfed before knows steeper waves are more exciting to ride. It turns out, the wind has a direct influence on the size of the waves.

The reason for changes in the surf is due to temperature fluctuations. In the morning, the shore cools considerably, causing the air to condense and sink. These conditions usually cause offshore winds.

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As the day goes on and the sun rises higher in the sky, the shore grows hotter and tends to rise. The rising of the shore creates onshore winds.

Based on the information above, morning is the absolute best time for surfing which is why you see so many seasoned surfers on dawn patrol. Dawn patrol simply means an early morning surfing session.

During the afternoon, the sun is too warm, causing the shore to rise. For the most part, afternoon surfing is a letdown because of the choppy water and non-existent or fragile waves. Afternoons are perfect for swimming but are less than ideal for surfing.

man surfing in a large wave

Pros and Cons of Surfing in the Morning

Before you set out for a surfing session in the morning, you need to be aware of the pros and cons. Below, you will find the pros and cons of surfing in the early morning.


  • There is much less wind, so the waves are perfect.
  • You can avoid the crowds that interrupt your surfing fun.
  • You can also avoid the hot sun which leads to sunburns.
  • The beach is an entirely different tranquil world in the mornings.
  • Surfing in the morning starts your day off perfectly with exercise.


  • There are usually no lifeguards on duty.
  • Sharks are more energetic during the mornings because it is their feeding time.
  • The water is much cooler when the sun is not up yet.
men going surfing on a cloudy day

Pros and Cons of Surfing in the Afternoon

Surfing in the afternoon is not ideal, though some surfers do enjoy the water during this time. Below, you will find the pros and cons.


  • If you are new to surfing, the smaller waves give you good practice.
  • There are usually lifeguards on duty.
  • The water is warmer during the afternoon.
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  • The waves will not make experienced surfers happy because they are small and choppy.
  • There are usually a lot of people on the beach during the afternoons, making surfing more challenging.
  • The noise on afternoon beaches can be distracting and throw you off your surfing game.
  • The long wait for decent waves can be frustrating.

What About Surfing at Dusk?

Surfers also enjoy surfing around dusk hours for the same reasons they like dawn patrol. During this time of the day, the sun is sinking low in the sky, cooling the shore and leading to higher waves due to offshore winds.

Around dusk, people start leaving the beaches in droves, and the atmosphere becomes calmer and quieter. Those who love the meditative experience of surfing want as few people around as possible, and dusk affords surfers a break from the crowds.

man standing on the beach with a surfboard at dusk

Is It Dangerous to Surf at Dawn or Dusk?

Surfing at any time of the day presents dangers. This sport requires physical strength, swimming skills, patience, and persistence. While most experienced surfers prefer dawn patrol or dusk surfing, there are dangers with both.

With low light, you are less visible. If you were to get in danger in the water, people on shore may not know. With no lifeguards, the risks increase.

You should not go surfing at dawn or dusk unless you are experienced and have someone with you to offer aid, should you need it suddenly. Once you gain substantial experience, there is nothing like hitting the waves when the beach is mostly dark, and no one is around.

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