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Where do waves come from?

“How are waves created?” or “Where do waves come from?” These are very common questions we get asked during our surf lessons. It is not always necessary to know how waves are formed in order to be a good surfer or to improve your surfing skills. It is often just a question out of a surfer’s curiosity about the ocean.

A breaking wave is a release of energy that has built up over a long distance. Many people think that waves are made by the wind and this is in most cases correct. Waves are mainly caused by the wind passing its energy to the water through friction between the air molecules and the water molecules. Many big waves are created by wind that has passed its energy to water over a long period or distance. The size of a wave is dependent on the wind’s speed, direction and over what kind of area the wind has blown over.

As waves travel further this is when swell starts to develop into the defined lines you sometimes see coming towards the beach. These lines of swell grow in size and speed as they travel downwind. The distance between each wave also begins to increase as the swell travels further.

The part of the swell or waves that a surfer would surf are known as breaking waves and these are created when swell begins to slow down as it reaches the shore. As the swell gets closer and closer to the shore and when the water is shallow enough, the upper part of the waves finds itself moving faster than the lower part and this is when a wave begins to break and when it is at the perfect stage in it’s journey for a surfer to ride it!

When doing a surf lesson with us, you’ll not only learn about how to ride the waves, but also more interesting and amazing facts about the ocean, the waves and its wildlife. The perfect opportunity to brush up on some ocean knowledge while having a great time in the water.

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