The surf forecasts are designed to make it as quick as possible to decide when and where to get the very best surf.
There are many ways that people measure surf height and it gets confusing. Some measure from the front, some from the back, some the wave face, some not, and surf forecasts often give a broad range of heights, like "2-4ft".
To keep things simple and useful we use the average that UK surfers use, and give one height, which is the height of the set waves.
So "4ft" means head high set waves.
Surf quality is determined from many variables and ranges from poor, ok, good, excellent to epic. To make it quick and easy to find the best surf, quality is also colour-coded from grey to bright green, like this:
Recommended spots will be higher quality surf than the region average.
SURF PERIOD / INTERVAL
Wave period (or interval) is the time between successive waves, in seconds.
Under 7 seconds: This will be pretty junky surf. You can surf 5 sec swells but paddling out is kinda crazy (you get thru one wave and immediately get hit by the next) and catching waves is tricky because you have so little time to position and paddle into the wave. But it can be done if you're desperate!
8-12 seconds: If there are light winds locally, this will be fairly long distance, lined-up swell. There will be some lulls (smaller waves) followed by sets (groups of bigger waves). Good surfing.
12+ seconds: If there are light winds locally, this will be long distance, lined-up swell, with well defined lulls (smaller waves) followed by sets (groups of bigger waves). Great surfing.
18+ seconds: Very long distance, super lined-up swell, with long lulls (smaller waves) for up to minutes at a time, followed by very obvious sets of much bigger waves. Superb surfing: plenty of time during lulls to paddle out, plenty of space and time between waves to get into position and catch a wave, and perfectly formed lines of surf. Crowded spots can get challenging, as a 20s period means just 3 waves a minute, and there will be lulls between sets of waves.
This is the wind speed and direction at the beach / reef. To avoid confusion about wind direction, we show compass direction and wind arrows, like this:
Sheltered spots (with a cliff / harbour wall / pier) can have good quality surf in strong winds. If a forecast says Good quality surf but also 25mph winds, it means the spot is sheltered from the wind. Don't be put off by the wind strength - trust the quality rating.
Tide times are adjusted to British Summer Time so they match your watch or mobile - no need to add or subtract an hour.
Regional surf forecasts give you the average surf in each region and recommend when and where to go for the very best surf. Click on a recommended spot to see the detailed forecast for that spot, like this:
Recommendations are based on a calculation that looks at many variables, including winds, wave spectrum, wave focus, refraction, shelter and local knowledge. Recommended spots will be the ones getting the best quality surf.
ALWAYS KNOW WHEN AND WHERE TO SCORE THE BEST SURF IN THE NEXT 7 DAYS