If you’re thinking of catching some waves this weekend the best place to go to find out the wave situation down at your local spot is (shock horror) the internet.
Gone are the days when surfers who wanted to know when their favorite surf breaks were firing dialed 1-900-976-SURF for their daily surf reports.
There are so many websites for surf forecasting, meaning that the once hard to come by information on the best surf breaks in your local area is now readily available and just a few clicks away.
In this comprehensive guide, we outline the 10 Best Surf Forecasting websites. We detail everything from what kind of report information each site offers to regions covered and handy pros and cons lists. Meaning that even if you are a newbie to catching waves, you’ll know which website best suits your surf forecasting needs.
Surfline is the brainchild of the late Sean Collins and deserves the top spot on our list for many reasons.
Since its inception in 1985, Surfline has aided millions of new and avid surf enthusiasts in finding current and future surf conditions. This website is considered one of the largest and most visited surf forecasting websites in the world and is a household name in the world of surfing.
Based in Southern California, Surfline offers comprehensive wave data for surfers all around the world. Some spots have hourly updates, meaning you know exactly how the waves are behaving at regular intervals.
Designed to be intuitive, Surfline allows you to check surf conditions on the go. There is also a more in-depth forecast allowing you to study real-time wind and tide conditions. Surfline is the official go-to surf forecasting website for The World Surf League (WSL) which, if nothing else, demonstrates the quality and accuracy of Surfline’s models.
- Live webcams
- Simple to use interface
- Hugh volume of surf spots available
- Travel guides
- Offers a range of premium packages
- Can become distracted by the wealth of information
Hailing from the South West of England and founded in 2002, Magicseaweed ranks highly as one of the globe’s largest and most used surf report sites.
On the Magicseaweed platform, you’ll find an abundance of forecasting data, charts, and other useful information to check up on your local surf breaks. The search function is also super easy to use for spots you’re planning to visit anywhere in the world.
The developers of Magicseaweed make understanding their charts a breeze. With color-coded wind directions from red to orange, and green, and a one to five conditions rating system.
- Surf Cams available
- Has detailed swell and weather information
- Easy to navigate
- Calculations of wave height can be inconsistent
Windguru is an extremely comprehensive wind and weather forecasting site. Founded in the late 1990s by Vaclav Hornik, Windguru was originally directed towards wind and kite surfers.
However, it is a regularly used site for all types of surfer due to its ‘at a glance’ nature. It offers reports for locations across the world.
To use the site, select the region you need data for and Windguru shows a detailed graph showing all essential information from swell size and direction, wind gust, and sea temperature.
One of the great features we liked is the Spot Map. Using this allows you to select anywhere on the planet as well as top forecasts for that week.
The Pro version of Windguru is very reasonably priced and has ad-free usage and unlimited all forecast access for the experienced surfer in need of more detail.
- Very detailed
- Forecast published hourly
- Uses Live Swell Buoys
- Has a Premium subscription that unlocks a variety of features, including allowing you to add a custom surf spot
- Not suitable for beginners
- No live cams
- The huge volume of numbers and data
Initially founded as a weather blog in 1998 by Ben Matson, Swellnet is a trusted and well-established surf forecasting website for Australian surfers. The observation feature for many of the Australian breaks has a daily breakdown from a local surfer, so you know it’s reliable information.
The long-range surf forecasting from Swellnet is excellent, but the observation feature mentioned above gives the site an “old-school” feel as it doesn’t solely rely on forecasting models and algorithms.
However, there are surf reports and large amounts of information for popular surf zones Australian surfers use, like Indonesia. Details for zones outside of these areas are reduced, and the Americas has no coverage.
- More of a hands-on approach to surf forecasting
- Free to check surf cams, daily surf reports, and five-day conditions
- Tailored to the Australian surfer so worldwide information is limited
- No reports for the Americas
Much like Swellnet, Surf2Surf is region-specific and focuses solely on New Zealand. If you’re planning a surfing trip to New Zealand, Surf2Surf is considered to be your best choice for all your surfing needs.
Surf2Surf features beautifully designed and easy-to-understand forecasts and reports for all the main surf destinations in New Zealand.
Whilst there are obvious drawbacks to region-specific surf broadcasting websites, it is worth noting that because of the specialized reporting the accuracy for specific areas is very high.
- Has a companion New Zealand Surfing Guidebook
- Premium version is reasonably priced
- Has a companion S2 app for Apple and Andriod users
- Only a teaser of the site is available for free
- Not suitable for users looking for worldwide surf-forecasting
Windfinder has one of the most beautifully colorful homepages we’ve seen. This color isn’t just for show, it is a representation of global wind speed and direction. There are forecasts and reports for over 45,000 sports around the globe.
Windfinder generates its data from 21,000 weather stations. Values such as wind speed, direction, air pressure, and air temperature can be viewed in real-time.
Wave data on Windfinder is similar to Windguru in that only swell height and direction are offered. However, it offers free access to wind reports, forecasts, and updates which makes it an invaluable tool if you’re planning a trip and deciding on the best place to catch the wave.
- Updated Hourly for accurate data
- User Friendly
- No live cams at surf breaks
Surf-forecast offers surf reports and for over 7000 of the world’s most popular surf spots. Owing to its user-friendly interface, Surf-forecast is a great platform for when you’re on the go and need fast, reliable data to score a local break. Especially if you are looking for a new surf zone and need to identify the go-to spots.
The website features a collection of wind, swell, and wave maps that allow you to see what a particular surf sport is going to do. Alongside optimum swell movement, wind direction, and the position of the tide offered in a detailed surf break guide for each location.
- Email alert system tells you when your selected spot is about to pump
- User photos can be uploaded to surf spots
- Live swell maps
- No app for Apple or Andriod
- Might not be suitable for those who need live surf cam updates
- Reports can look overcrowded with information
Whilst not technically a surf forecast site, Windy is a comprehensive weather reporting and forecasting service which offers detailed information that surfers can use.
Windy displays all its data in colorful animation. Unlike the other sites listed here, it’s not possible to see specific data for surfing spots. By moving the cursor around the map you get a detailed view of how swells travel towards the coast.
With some practice and perseverance, you’ll be paying homage to old-school surfers by being able to read charts to predict swells.
- Visually stunning
- With practice, you’ll be able to track weather patterns and potentially beat forecasting sites to the swells
- Completely free to use
- Not for those needing quick information on surf forecasting
SwellInfo’s forecasts cater to both new and experienced surfers alike. The interface is easy to navigate and understand for the novice but has all the detailed data and charts a more experienced surfer needs.
When you want to check a specific area, the site offers you a satellite image of the area you need. You can zoom in and out from this point to see how the coastline might receive a swell.
SwellInfo isn’t monetized, meaning there isn’t a premium version and the ads can sometimes become tiresome.
- Satellite images
- Easy to navigate
- Caters to both newcomers and experienced surfers
- Limited to the Americas
10. UK MET Office
UK Met Office is much like Windy and Surf2Surf in that it is not a dedicated surf forecasting website and it is region-specific to the UK. The Met Office is the national meteorological service for the United Kingdom. Meaning that its coverage is limited to the British Isles.
However, The UK Met Office has detailed weather charts and tutorials for how to accurately read them – perfect for the budding surfer who is interested in the meteorological approach to surf forecasting. The wealth of knowledge available can aid surfers from anywhere in the world.
Like Windy.com, it takes a bit of practice to interpret the charts on this site. However, once you’ve mastered the basics with the help of The UK Met Office you’ll be able to see the difference between high and low-pressure systems which influence storm and swell behavior.
- Great for learning how to interpret weather and wave conditions
- Suitable for those of us who prefer a meteorological approach
- Limited to just the United Kingdom
- Not for those needing information at a glance
Whilst not strictly a surf broadcasting website, Sherpa Surf App is an essential tool for surfers looking to catch some waves in New Zealand or Australia.
As it uses the GPS and your phone to find the nearest breaks Sherpa gives you great data about breaks within a reasonable distance. Once it has your position it compares up to 40 spots at any one time by matching their database with daily surf conditions.
Since 1998, CRSurf has been keeping and posting reports about Costa Rican, from the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, surfing conditions.
Whilst the website presentation can be a little confusing, it has live surf cams, tidal charts, and wave forecasting for the Pacific beaches of Costa Rica. CRSurf also features handy surf maps with geotagged locations on both sides of the country.
There is an absolute treasure trove of information out there for surfers, most of which is freely available. As technology advances, we can accurately predict conditions, meaning that surfers can score more waves than ever before.
The days of surfers being glued to the weather forecast on TV, watching for pressure graphs or wind directions are long gone. Great innovators like the founder of Surfline, the late Sean Collins, along with the mountains of data and algorithms, paved the way for new and experienced surfers to get the waves they seek.
Sites like Windy.com and The Met Office UK can be vital to those of us who want a more meteorological edge to surf forecasting, hence their addition to this list. The Met Office UK site even includes video tutorials to really get stuck into.
Whilst the high flying premium sites like Surfline and Magicseaweed are pushing the surf forecasting envelope, there are many benefits to smaller regional sites. Primarily, they offer us the opportunity to get to know the dynamics of our surf zones.