Most surfers opt for surfing destinations that can allow them to ride the waves in board shorts. Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last as long as these water sports lovers would want it to and most of the best warm surfing spots end up being a cold lonely space that no one wants to surf in.
Honestly, surfing in warm water is fun, as you don’t need to put on those thick wetsuits, booties, hoodies, or dive gloves. Just slip into those beach shorts you got yourself last summer, grab your surfboard and a pair of sunglasses and you are good to go.
But temperature should not dictate your fun, enjoyment, and pleasure of the ocean. A little cold needs not to be the reason why you skip your daily dose of the surf. That’s why we provide you with useful tips on how to surf in cold water to help you hit those currents even in thick winters. Let’s get started.
1. Get The Right Suit
There is just no other way around it. If you really want to enjoy those frigid waves, investing in a good surf suit is totally essential.
Buy yourself the best wetsuit you can afford. You are going to be dealing with extremely cold temperatures so you need to get yourself a full-body suit that covers your entire arms and legs.
Look for one that is thick enough as more thickness means more warmth. The thickness of most wetsuits ranges between 3 to 6 millimeters.
Pay close attention to the sizing and fitting too. Wetsuits come in different shapes and sizes and if you get one that is too tight, it may restrict blood circulation, which will make you feel colder quicker. Consider a suit that is a bit looser to allow efficient blood flow.
It is also important to take care of your wetsuit. Rinsing it off after every surf session will give it a longer lifespan. Wetsuits are quite expensive and the best way to make yours more durable and avoid spending money on wetsuits in the future is by giving them the care it deserves.
Likewise, repair any holes and rips on your suit. While these may not seem such a big deal during summer, you may not like it when snowy water penetrates through the holes and freezes off your skin.
2. Surf Extras Are Important Too
You have a wetsuit, yes, but if the water will be completely cold, you may need to spend on a few wetsuit accessories. You can’t surf when your hands and feet are just lumps of frozen flesh! A good pair of gloves and boots will help keep these warm. Stubbing numb fingers on a sharp rock somehow hurt more when your hand is frozen.
If you are eyeing a more intense water sport like scuba diving, you may want to get a diving drysuit for yourself. This is heavier than a wetsuit and will fit snugly around your ankles, wrists, and neck to keep you dry and warm.
Including a hood in this list will also be a wise move if you are going windsurfing or any sport that requires constant duck diving. A hoodie will protect your head and ears, prevent ice cream headaches, and help you enjoy your surfing and dives without getting flushed.
3. Get Changed Indoors
The worst thing about cold water surfing is not diving into the cold water. Absolutely not! It is standing butt-naked in a frozen, windy, asphalt parking lot.
If you got an option of changing indoors, do it! This will make you warm from the word go and actually motivate you to surf instead of bagging the ocean for being too cold, wavy, high tide, or something. Similarly, after surfing, don’t change out of your suit on the beach. Go straight home and take it off in a hot shower.
Ironically, most surfers like changing in and out of their wetsuits in the car. Of course, it is a lot warmer than being naked in the wind but it doesn’t beat the more comfy dressing room in your house.
If you are going to suit up and down at the beach, bring plenty of warm water with you from home. Put it in your car and once you are done with the surf, pour it on yourself to warm yourself up and rinse the salt and sand off.
It would also be nice to organize your clothes and towel before jumping into the water. This will help you to pull on everything quickly once you get back from the surf. Wrap your t-shirt and underwear around one of the water bottles so that they are warm and toasty by the time you are done surfing.
4. Warm Your Surf Session Up
When you think about how to surf in cold water, you should think of ways to keep yourself warm. Your wetsuit is the key determinant of how warm or cold you get when you are out there surfing. Getting the right one will help you fight the cold and have enjoyable surfing. However, there are several other things you could do to fend off the cold.
For instance, make sure that you are always paddling as this keeps your muscles working. The more you paddle, the more warm blood circulates in your body, and the more you beat the cold. Race as much as you can so that your heart pumps more blood into your body. Sitting still for longer periods will only get you colder and you might end up giving up on the wave riding.
Hitting the paddle will generate some warmth for you on the go but before you get it going, it would help to keep your hands tucked in your armpits. Well, this may sound a little stupid but if you didn’t bring your gloves along, this simple trick will really help in generating some warmth for your hands.
Eating easily digestible root vegetables like sweet potatoes before heading for the surf will also help you to keep warm. These are a good source of energy and will be broken down to release the warmth you need during the cold water surf. Additionally, drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, as this will also double up the production of heat.
While surfing in cold water can be scary, if you can build up the required heat, you will have a mind-blowing experience. Just make sure not to surf more than it’s needed. If the water is really cold, your body will be spending too much energy to keep up with the demand for warmth and thus you will soon be exhausted. Paddle out of the ocean when you still have the energy to traverse the shore break.
5. Get A Bigger Surfboard
Cold weather brings larger and more exciting waves. Why else would anyone brave ice cream headaches and hypothermia? It is also believed that cold water is more powerful, heavier, and denser than warm. This combined with a heavier wetsuit means that you are going to require extra help to navigate the waves.
Picking something that has more volume and a little bigger than the normal summer surfboards will make it easier for you to ride the denser currents. Grab your Surfboard here. You will be able to drop quickly into the monster waves and maintain the control and speed you need to ride and navigate these swells.
6. Moisturize Your Skin
Surfing in cold water could cause great damage to your skin and lips. If you don’t want your lips to look all rough and chapped, do yourself a favor and apply a generous amount of moisturizer to them before your surf session. You can also add a layer of petroleum jelly on top to lock in the moisturizer.
Rubbing in some lip cream before and after the session especially when you surf in strong wind conditions will soften your lips and prevent them from cracking. Your spouse will be grateful too!
7. Don’t Go Surfing Alone
We include this in our how to surf in cold water guide because other than keeping you safe, a surf buddy makes the whole session more fun. One of the reasons why you bring a few friends to the surf is to ensure there is always someone looking after you but as it turns out, this can also help you get the best out of the post-surf highs.
You have been exposed to the cold all day, trying to conquer giant swells. Getting warm, toasty, and wasted after such a breathtaking experience is the most exquisite feeling on earth.
Wrap yourselves up in thick clothes. Build a camp and fire it up. Toast some whisky. Brew a few pots of soup, coffee, or tea.
Everything feels out of this world after a good wave riding. Enjoy every minute of your post-surf high, after all, you have earned every bit of that moment.
Globo Surf Overview
Surfing in cold water can be hard especially for people who are new to water sports. It requires one to have the right surfing gear and accessories and acquire the necessary skills to navigate the challenging waves. Learning how to surf in cold water is important because you don’t need to wait until the next summer season to hit a ride. You also get to be a better surfer because you can navigate the waves under all weather conditions.