Why Do Surfers Go in the Morning? All the Facts (+5 Helpful Tips)

Robert Elgar

Have you ever wondered why some surfers choose to get up bright and early to catch a few sunrise waves?

Other than its immense beauty, surfers choose to surf in the mornings because it tends to bring less wind and smaller crowds. Not to mention escaping the midday sun.

Everyone has their own favorite time of the day to surf, and all have their benefits.

Surfing in the morning, however, has something special about it.

7 Benefits of Surfing in the Morning

Surfing in the morning has numerous benefits, from early exercise and starting your day early, to surfing more waves and avoiding the sun.

1. Less Wind

Because of the surface of the earth cooling down faster than the air above it when the sun goes down, night hours and early morning tend to be less windy.

Although some wind is always good for surfing, too much can ruin an entire day.

When you surf in the morning before the wind has picked up, the smaller waves will not be blown out, even if there is a slight onshore breeze.

2. Fewer Crowds

One of the biggest downsides of surfing’s growing popularity is the huge crowds that come with it.

Waves are limited, and it can be frustrating when we are in the water and find ourselves competing with a hundred other surfers.

Many surfers choose to surf in the morning because there is always less of a crowd.

Although this crowd seems to grow on the weekends, it is still significantly better than later on in the day.

Fewer crowds mean more waves for you to enjoy with less competition for each ride.

Another reason to avoid crowds is for safety.

Of course, surfing alone has its own dangers, but too many people in the water can bring a high chance of collision, which happens to be one of the biggest causes of injury while surfing.

Surfing in the morning can put a real emphasis on laid-back surfing.

3. Avoid the Sun

Depending on where you live, surfing in the middle of the day can be hot and uncomfortable. 

This is especially true when the weather is hot but the ocean is still cold.

This is because you will likely still need to wear a thick wetsuit to keep you warm in the water, but it is too warm for the heat from the sun.

Surfing in extreme heat can be uncomfortable at best, and lead to dehydration, sunburn, overheating, and in the worst cases, heatstroke.

Avoiding this mid-day sun is the safer option. You will also find that you have more energy in the water as your body is not using as much to regulate your temperature.

4. Time Obligations

Many people live in a world somewhere between what they want to do, and what they need to do.

We spend the majority of our waking lives at work, and this can be a frustrating thing to face when you know all the swell is rolling in.

This is another reason that some choose to surf in the mornings.

Simply put, if they do not surf in the morning, they likely will not get a chance to surf that day.

Although a quick surf before work will mean getting up with the birds, you will be happy that you didn’t miss out on the day’s perfect waves.

5. Quiet and Peaceful

There is something special to be said about waking up with the rest of the world.

The earth seems peaceful, quiet, and as if everything has slowed down.

When we wake up early we have a chance to experience this peace.

Some surfers like to take this moment to indulge in their favorite sport and spend time in nature before the day quickens in pace.

6. Morning Exercise

Morning exercise can be a great way to start our day. Being active in the morning wakes us up, clears our minds, and energizes us for the day.

It is important to maintain physical exercise. This is also a lot more difficult to keep up with at the end of the day instead of the beginning.

Surfing is a great form of physical exercise, so surfing as much as possible in the mornings could help you maintain a healthy routine.

7. Waking Up Early

There is a strong belief that waking up early can improve your overall physical health, and focus.

When we wake up with the sun we feel like we are waking up with the world. It is quiet, peaceful, and beautiful.

This helps bring calm into our minds before our busy days begin. 

When waking up early with a surf, entirely immersed in nature, it is easy to see how it can positively affect your focus.

3 Downsides of Surfing in the Morning

Surfing in the morning comes with multiple benefits and very few downsides.

However, there are always a few safety precautions that you should keep in mind before paddling out at the crack of dawn.

1. Prime Shark Time

Sharks, along with much sea life, will do most of their feeding during dusk and dawn.

Deciding to surf in the morning, especially around sunrise time, could increase your chances of encountering dangerous sea life such as sharks.

That being said, the chances of a shark attack are slim, even when surfing in shark-infested locations such as Florida.

Although sharks do not pose a high risk, they should always be kept in mind, and when in a particularly sharky area, it may be wiser to stay out of the water when they are the most active.

2. No Lifeguard

Most surfers are likely to pay no attention to the presence of a lifeguard.

This is usually because surfers know the ocean well, understand the currents, are fit and tend to be good swimmers.

Although seasoned surfers often pay no attention to lifeguards, it is not a bad idea to have them present when you are new to the sport.

When you are still learning the ocean, how to get past the waves, and how to judge tides and currents, it is a wise idea to have others around that can keep an eye on you.

If you are surfing early in the morning, there will likely be no lifeguards on duty.

This might not be an issue, but if there are currents that take you by surprise it could become a dangerous situation.

3. No People

Although part of the reason to go surfing in the morning is that there are fewer people, there is always the chance that you will be the only one at the beach.

This will leave you deciding if you should surf alone.

There is nothing wrong with surfing alone, and many surfers will tell you that they prefer it.

However, surfing alone comes with many dangers, especially to new surfers.

What Time Is Considered “Morning Surfing”?

Technically, morning surfing would be any time before noon.

Although, when a surfer says “morning surf” they are likely talking about much earlier.

Everyone will have their own idea about when a morning surf would be.

For some, a morning surf would be within a few hours of sunrise, for others is maybe between 8 am and 10 am, while for others a morning surf would simply be anytime before lunchtime.

Although surfing at 11.30 am is not very early, it is still considered the morning by most.

Is It Safe to Surf in the Morning?

Surfing in the morning is just as safe as surfing during other times, with surfing at night being the exception.

Although the risks will balance out, some will differ depending on the time of day that you surf.

For example, as mentioned above, there is a higher chance of sharks when surfing in the morning, but surfing in the afternoon creates a bigger chance of colliding with another surfer due to the increased number of people in the water.

Is Surfing in the Morning Better Than at Night?

Surfing in the morning is neither better, nor is it worse than surfing at night. It is simply different.

Both bring fewer crowds, a larger selection of waves, calmer waters, less wind, and a somewhat tranquil feeling.

Surfing at night can seem beyond peaceful, and a truly amazing experience, but due to the lack of light, larger waves should be avoided.

Surfing in the morning, although quiet, will likely be busier than at night, but as there is light, it is possible to surf in spots with a bigger swell.

Deciding if it is better to surf in the morning or night will be a personal decision, and one you will only be able to make once you have experienced both.

Is Surfing in the Morning and “Dawn Patrol” the Same?

Dawn patrol is a term used to describe those that arrive at the beach just before or slightly after sunrise, hence the “dawn” part of the name.

Surfing in the morning is not the same as dawn patrol. However, dawn patrol is the same as surfing in the morning.

As mentioned before, surfing in the morning could be anytime from sunrise to mid-day, while dawn patrol needs to be during dawn (sunrise hours).

Is Surfing at Dawn the Best Time of the Day?

Everyone has their favorite surfboards, favorite breaks, favorite beaches, as well as their favorite times to surf.

Although there are undeniable advantages of surfing early in the morning, especially around sunrise, to call it the best time of the day to surf may not be true for everyone.

That being said, as there is less wind, fewer people, less sun, and it allows your morning exercise, there is a strong argument that dawn may be the best time to surf.

5 Tips When Surfing in the Morning

As surfing in the morning is much the same as surfing during other daylight hours, most tips and advice that apply to surfing apply to surfing in the morning.

However, it might be a good idea to put some emphasis on the following:

1. Tell Others Where You Will Be

Because there is a strong chance that there will be no lifeguards, and very few other people, it is a good idea to let others know that you will be heading out early for a surf.

This will reduce any worry about where you may be, as well as allow others to know where to find you in the case of an emergency.

2. Avoid Shark-Infested Beaches

As mentioned multiple times above, sharks like to hunt around sunrise.

If you are planning on an early morning surf, avoiding breaks that sharks are often spotted at is a wise choice.

Yes, the chance of a shark attack is low, but surfing around hunting sharks is likely to drastically increase the risk.

3. Choose Your Breaks Wisely

Pay attention to the breaks you are choosing to surf when heading out early. 

Some breaks require more wind to keep the wave up than others. Surfing in the morning may not suit these breaks as the wind might not be strong enough.

Similarly, the tides are likely different in the morning than you usually experience throughout the rest of the day.

It is a good idea to check the tides before you head to the ocean.

The last thing you want is to wake up bright and early to surf your favorite dry reef, only to find out that it is low tide and there is no water at all.

4. Use the Correct Wetsuit

It is important to use the correct wetsuit when surfing. If your wetsuit is too thin, you will become cold, and if it is too thick, you will quickly overheat.

If you are traveling out for a morning surf, keep in mind that the water will be colder than the middle of the day, and there will be no sun to warm you up.

There is a strong chance that the wetsuit you use to surf in the middle of the day will not be warm enough for an early morning surf.

5. Eat Breakfast

We should always eat before exercising. Of course, this should not be directly before, but eating provides our bodies with energy for the activities we are about to undertake.

It is easy to forget to eat when we go for early morning surfs. Sometimes this would mean waking up even earlier just to eat some fruit.

Although it might seem like a good idea to skip the food, you will be thankful you ate when you have enough energy to remain surfing for the entire time you had planned.

Conclusion

Surfers tend to surf in the morning because the wind is calmer, and there is less of a crowd.

Dawn patrol is often argued as the best time to hit the waves, mainly for these two reasons.

There is no denying the amazing feeling of watching the sunrise while you are in the ocean, will all the waves to surf and no one to compete with.

If you have never surfed in the morning, head down to your favorite spot bright and early the next chance you get.

You may feel sleepy at first, but you will leave the beach with no regrets.

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