How To Surf In Winter - And Still Improve

For some the season of winter simply means larger swells and adding a one mill vest over that bikini of yours.

For others like me, it means hoods, 4/3 booties, gloves and sickly ice-cream headaches.

Keeping motivated to not only surf, but to make improvements through winter can be really tough, but with the correct advice and mindset, surfing through winter can still be very enjoyable and beneficial for any surfer wanting to improve their performance in the water.

Check out these tips below to ensure you can truely enjoy the next coming winter season.

Don’t make things harder than they already are

In winter there are many things you can’t control. The temperature, the blustery winds, the shorter days, however there are things you can control. Where ever possible make things easy for yourself.

Things like leaving your wetsuit dripping wet in the shower over night, or forgetting to bring those extra layers on that surf trip – that is setting yourself up for failure. Be strategic and always think about your future self. Don’t just “handle” it, make an effort to put in place the building blocks you need to make winter an enjoyable experience.

Find yourself an optimistic surf parter

If you are wanting to get motivated to get out there, go with someone that makes you feel like charging into the line up will be an “exciting” and “rewarding” experience. Do not surf with somebody that moans the whole car ride there, complaining about ice-cream headaches and how they can’t wait to get back into bed. Surround yourself with people that will instil a positive mindset within you, and make you amp on the conditions you are faced with.

Nourish your body

If you are feeling constantly weak, cold and tired, it is going to be a huge ask for you to haul that weak, cold and tired body into sub arctic conditions. Go all out on nourishing your body with grounding and nutritious soups, porridges and casseroles.

Meals that will keep your body satisfied and warm will replenish your system with sufficient macro and micro nutrients to keep you ticking along at your best.

Put the extra money in to buying a good suit

It really is worth spending an extra bit of cash to transform your surfing experience in winter from horrendously awful to comfortably bearable. Don’t just buy a good wetsuit, get a hood! Get some gloves and get some booties. Go all out and get into it.

It can be kind of fun dressing up like a penguin and feeling invincible in a head to toe rubber suit. As well as buying a warm suit for the water, think about outside of the water. You need to keep warm during the day if you want to be motivated to get out into the cold surf.

Work on your paddling power

In winter, more often than not this means bigger swells. If you want to flourish in winter you need to be able to handle both the rawness of the ocean with the larger waves that accompany it. Not only will training your paddle fitness help with the surfing the waves, but it will also assist you when paddling against a 4 or 5 mil resistance rubber suit.

Power surfs

Set yourself a time limit when you go out. If you tell yourself that you only have an hour, you are much more likely to be on a mission, paddling constantly and looking for waves then just sitting around getting cold. This way you can still get your wave count up, whilst keeping warm and motivated under your time limit.

Embrace the madness of it all

To the average person, surfing in the freezing cold waters of winter is slightly insane. Why on earth would you put yourself through such an experience? Well probably because we as surfers understand how cleansing and soul satisfying a surf can be. Embrace reality and embrace that by surfing in winter, you are taking part in an experience that the average person will never dare to do.


Surfing in winter has many positives. Usually it is a lot less crowded, meaning you can consistently work on those manoeuvres you need to perfect. Often, you find surfers who are a lot more committed, and really enjoy surfing for the pleasure it brings them, rather than those people that relish in the “surfer” image.

Often, hidden spots come alive with big swells, and this gives you the chance to go exploring and surf a wider variety of waves. So with this in mind, take the advice above and prepare yourself, and remember, no matter how cold it is, you always feel better after a surf.

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