When do the four seasons begin and end, and what do these changes mean to you as a surfer?
Whether you’re in the northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere, you’ll need to pay close attention to the changing seasons as they will have a big impact on how you surf.
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“Spring” comes from an Old English word meaning “to leap forth”.
It is a season of blooming flowers; a season of regrowth and rejuvenation.
It’s also when the misery of winter begins to fade and we have warmer and longer days to look forward to.
When Does Spring Start and End?
- Most of Europe and North America – March 20th to June 21st, 2022
- Australia and New Zealand – September 1st to November 30th
- Hindu Seasons – Mid-March to Mid-May
- Bengali Seasons – Mid-February to Mid-April
East Coast Surfing in the Spring
Although the east coast weather isn’t too bad in the spring, the water is still very cold and you can expect a lot of wind and rain.
You’re going to need your wetsuit if you’re surfing on the east coast.
There are some good places to surf as soon as spring begins, but you’ll have to do your research in advance and make sure you’re adequately prepared.
West Coast Surfing in the Spring
The swell drops off a little when spring begins but you can still find some great surf spots.
The weather is also a lot warmer, making it more suitable for beginners.
A wetsuit is still required and you’ll also need to start thinking about sunblock.
Hawaii Surfing in the Spring
The North Shore empties when the spring begins, and most of the surf spots are filled with locals.
If you’re looking for a quiet time to visit Hawaii’s beaches, spring is ideal.
Summer is the hottest of the four seasons and it’s when everyone comes to life, enjoying the balmy days and relaxing nights, right before they complain that it’s too hot and humid.
The word likely comes to us from a Sanskrit word for “season” or “half-year”.
When Does Summer Start and End?
- Most of Europe and North America – June 21st to September 22nd
- Australia and New Zealand – December 1st to February 28th
- Hindu Seasons – Mid-May to Mid-July (followed by Monsoon season)
- Bengali Seasons – Mid-April to Mid-June (followed by Monsoon season)
East Coast Surfing in the Summer
The surf is usually very flat on the east coast and if you’ll need a longboard to get any action here.
It can be hot and humid, and well, as while you won’t need a wetsuit, you will need to keep an eye out for hurricanes.
Be watchful of the tourists and traffic (on the beach, sea, and roads) and check the local laws, as some spots limit access to surfers.
West Coast Surfing in the Summer
Summer is boardshorts and bikini season on the west coast.
Southern California is notorious for “June Gloom” and “May Gray”, but there are plenty of great places to surf once summer begins.
Check out Oceanside and Trestles in San Diego for some summer action.
Hawaii Surfing in the Summer
Waikiki (AKA the south shore) is the place to be for summertime surfing in Hawaii.
The southern hemisphere pushes swells north and you can enjoy bright sunshine, warm water, and big waves.
Fall used to be known as “harvest” for obvious reasons.
In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, it’s known as “Autumn”, a word that seems to have Latin origins (possibly from the Etruscans) and hints at the passing of the year, as well as words like “dry” and “cold”.
When Does Fall Start and End?
- Most of Europe and North America – September 22nd to December 21st
- Australia and New Zealand – March 1st to May 31st
- Hindu Seasons – Mid-September to Mid-November
- Bengali Seasons – Mid-August to Mid-October
East Coast Surfing in the Fall
Tourists usually head home in the fall, and the lifeguards follow them.
Restrictions lift and it’s easier to find a surf spot.
Peak tourist season is over and so you should be able to find cheaper accommodation and won’t need to contend with hordes of tourists.
West Coast Surfing in the Fall
The size of the swells increase during the fall and it’s one of the best times to surf.
You can benefit from crisp mornings, cool waters, and a variety of swells.
There are also far fewer tourists than during the summer.
Hawaii Surfing in the Fall
The North Shore surfing season starts in the fall and Hawaii offers many of the same benefits as the west coast.
There are fewer bodies on the water, bigger swells, and a greater variety of swells.
Winter is the final season of the year.
It’s also the coldest and wettest.
The name likely stems from variations of “wet” and is a reference to “the wet season”.
When Does Winter Start and End?
- Most of Europe and North America – December 21st to March 20th
- Australia and New Zealand – June 1st to August 31st
- Hindu Seasons – Mid-November to Mid-March
- Bengali Seasons – Mid-December to Mid-February
East Coast Surfing in the Winter
If you’re a beginner, you probably give the east coast a miss when winter begins.
It’s cold and the water is even colder.
Sure, it’s not crowded, but it’s tough and only the strong survive.
The surf is good though, so if you have the skills and the equipment, give it a go.
West Coast Surfing in the Winter
Winter on the west coast is a great time for surfers. Northern California maxes out.
Mavericks comes to life, and you’ll see the best swell all year.
It’s the rainy season, though, and you should stay away from the surf after it rains.
Hawaii Surfing in the Winter
Locals, pros, and aspiring pros cram into the North Shore of Oahu as soon as winter begins.
It’s not a time for beginners or crowd-shy tourists.
It’s wetter and colder than usual, but there are many great waves to ride.
Surfing the Seasons Outside the United States
We’ve covered the US, now let’s take a look at how the seasons impact the surf in other parts of the world.
Surfing in the Southern Hemisphere
June to September is often the best time for surfing in Australia, as you’ll get powerful swells and won’t have to jostle with crowds of tourists.
If you want warmer weather and warmer water, visit between March and May.
As for South Africa, it’s best to visit between April and May, just before the winter months.
Surfing in Europe
In European destinations like Spain, Portugal, and France, the best time to visit is between September and April.
The water is cold, but the swells are strong.
If you’re visiting the United Kingdom, prime time is during the Fall months, but the water is cold all year long, so you’ll need your wetsuit.
Surfing in South Asia
Sri Lanka is a great year-round destination with the best waves coming around September and October.
In Thailand, the best waves come between April and November.