4 aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing

Are you a beginner surfer getting ready to head out for your first surf lesson and you do not know the aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing?

Well if so, this article is a necessity for you.

Before heading out, it’s crucial that you are aware and knowledgeable about what to be careful of. In the case that you’re not, dangerous situations can come about.

Down below are 4 aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing!

1) Wana

If you’re not from the islands of Hawaii, you may be wondering what the heck is “wana”? However, you’d be surprised that you actually do probably know what this is.

“Wana” is the Hawaiian word used when talking about a category of sea urchins.

These creatures can be found nestled into the reefs of your favorite surf spot, and contain toxic, sharp spines.

Accidentally stepping or hitting one can result in the brittle spines breaking off and ultimately puncturing your skin, making for an extremely painful situation.

One way to keep from accidentally stepping on one of these is to avoid touching the reef at all costs. If you happen to wipe out, try to fall more horizontal rather than vertical as this will help you from accidentally touching it.

For me, I had to learn the importance of being careful of wana the hard way. I was always told to never step on the reef because of the possibility of going over a wana, but I sort of always brushed it aside and had the mindset of “that probably won’t ever happen to me”.

One afternoon when I was surfing with my friend at our favorite surf spot, I wiped out and fell vertically rather than horizontally. The tide was also pretty low that day which didn’t help the situation.

As I fell, I felt my left ankle hit the side of a piece of coral reef but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I got back on my board that I felt an immense amount of sharp pain, so I looked down at my ankle to check out the situation. I was in complete shock and utter disbelief when I saw over a dozen black spines puncturing my ankle.

Thankfully, my friend was with me and we immediately paddled back to shore together. When we got back, some of the regulars at the spot helped me to take out as much of the spines as possible, and I’m forever grateful for their help and learning the aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing.

This was definitely a huge eye-opener for me to be more careful when I surf and more aware of wana.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did, and never forget that it is always good to be prepared and cautious to avoid a situation like mine.

2) Coral reef

Besides being the home for wana, the coral reef can cause other possible dangers for nearby surfers. Two of these include cutting your feet and other areas of your body, and damaging your board.

As previously stated, you should avoid stepping on the reef at all costs.

There’s always the possibility that you may accidentally run over a piece of extremely sharp coral, which could lead to your foot being painfully pierced. Remember these aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing for your safety!

It is also important to note that your foot getting cut from coral isn’t the only area on your body at risk.

There’s always the possibility of wiping out on a low tide day and accidentally hitting something like your arm or shoulder on an area of the reef.

In some cases, brutal cuts from the reef can be extremely painful and even lead to infection.

Just remember to always be careful of where you’re stepping and surfing, especially if it’s low tide!

Accompanying a wipeout, the reef can also ding up and damage your board pretty badly, so as previously stated, be careful and cautious!

3) Riptides and currents

It’s no secret that surfers need to be good swimmers. However, no matter how good of a swimmer you are, you should never look at the risk of strong, ruthless rip tides and currents lightly. They are important aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing.

Getting caught in one of these can lead to a dangerous situation if you’re unaware of it. Always stay alert and make sure you’re at a good and comfortable distance from the shore.

It’s extremely important not to panic or waste your energy if you do happen to find yourself getting caught up in a current or riptide.

Stay calm, and don’t be afraid to call or ask for help!

4) Waves

As a beginner surfer, you should always aim to surf waves that are best fitting towards your skill level as this will ensure the best and safest outcomes from a session.

Don’t feel bad about not being able to rip on 8-footers! Keep practicing and one day you will.

If you’re looking for a reference on what size waves are best for beginners, a good one would be 1-3 foot waves.

If you happen to check the surf report before heading out for a session and notice that the waves are a lot bigger than what you were expecting, stay in that day. Respect the aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing.

Heading out into waves that are bigger than what you can handle can lead to extremely dangerous situations and cause brutal wipeouts.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Being aware of the natural risks around you can benefit you so much when heading out for a surf session and will allow for a much safer outcome.

Safety should be your number one priority always.

Now that you’ve heard about these 4 aspects of nature to be careful of when surfing, we hope that you are feeling much more prepared before heading out for your next surf session.

Never forget that it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Good luck, stay safe, and don’t forget to have fun!


Check out this article to learn how to read a forecast and stay safe! 

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