Reef surfing - The best waves but they come with a risk!

Reef surfing! Most reef breaks are not the place for beginning surfers. But you can come across breaks that are great for the person who is just learning. The mental factor of knowing that there are rocks or a reef underneath where the waves are breaking is the biggest obstacle to overcome for the novice. Hitting the bottom and getting scraped over rocks or a reef will usually only happen when the waves are over head high or the water is seriously shallow. Conditions a beginner should be watchful of in all cases.

Things to know about reef breaks include:

There is less crowding because they aren’t as accessible.

Extra caution when paddling out and coming in are mandatory. This will save both your board and your skin.

Often much deeper channels are close-by, not always easy to find, but take advantage of them when you find them.

They don’t have the wide range of changes that beach breaks do. Once you know the break it’s really consistent.

Because the ocean floor in a reef break doesn’t have the sifting sand that typifies beach breaks you can head to the same break regularly and know what it will be like.

As a complete neophyte they are generally not the ideal choice for a learning environment. The sharpness of underlying coral, mussel beds, oyster beds etc. represents one hazard. Another is that there is usually an abrupt change from deeper water to the reef which means that when reef surfing the waves have more power than similar waves on a beach break.

Considering the post wipe out scenario is also necessary. Getting your leash caught in the reef after a wipeout or getting trapped in an underwater hole or cave can have dire consequences.

Unless a reef break has fairly deep water and slow gentle breaking waves it is best for beginners to wait with reef surfing until they have a more experience.

There is generally abundant sea life around any reef. Crustaceans, fish, see urchins and where there is food there are bigger critters to eat the food. Will you be likely to turn into a shark buffet? No. But being aware that the danger lurks will help you stay alert when you have enough experience to surf these breaks.

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