Like werewolves, tides are controlled by the moon. Unlike werewolves, tide behaviour is highly predictable.
There are two low tides and two high tides every day. The way Nature’s clock works means that these high and low points will shift forward every day by 51 minutes. Watch out for super high and super low tides under the full moon.
In Encuentro, we have a reef break which can feel a little iffy at a very low tide. The water gets shallow and you have to take care when you jump off, as the water level might be lower than your waist. If this freaks you out, watch out for low tide.
Some surfers believe it’s best to surf when the tide is on the rise from lower to high because the momentum is coming into shore. This is called a ‘tidal push’.
Others are adamant that the ideal tide varies depending on the break you like to surf, and the interplay of other conditions.
Generally speaking, if the tide is too high, waves will be slow and mushy, especially if they are not high-powered enough. They will tend to break onto themselves in a slushy mess. If the swell is low, they could end up breaking too close to the beach to surf.
If the tide is too low, though, it can suck the power out of the swell, as the water level is too low to carry enough force.
It’s a complicated science, and people definitely disagree on how tide affects surfable waves.