What is Surfing? 6 Reasons Why People Surf

Surfing, as its definition is ‘the sport or pastime of riding a wave towards the shore while standing or lying down on a surfboard’ according to Wikipedia. However, if you ask an actual surfer the response may be very different. You may hear descriptions like, “the most radical thing I’ve ever done” or “riding waves man.” In essence, it’s a contemporary art form that allows self-expression by riding a wave and there are different disciplines that have a different set of challenges. It is also an escape from societal pressures, stress, deadlines, and everyday life.

There are many different ways to surf and I guess the best way to describe it is as self-expression by riding water displacement originating from the sun. This can be done on many different crafts. 

  • Standard stand-up surfing on a surfboard
  • Bodyboarding
  • Body surfing
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Hydrofoiling
  • Kite surfing 
  • Windsurfing 
  • Surf ski
  • Boat surfing
  • Surfing on a motorbike

In surfing, like everything in life, there are prejudices, and often one form is not only preferred but also discriminated against; this often happens between surfers and body boarders. I believe it doesn’t matter what craft you use, as long as you’re courteous. 

There are many different reasons that people surf, of course, number one is that it is inherently fun and once you’re in, somehow you’re in for life – constantly trying to scratch that itch but never really satisfying yourself, only making things more itchy, deepening the addiction. Akin to gambling, winners know when to stop, otherwise you find yourself trying to get “one last wave.” 

Why Surfing?

Emotional Attachment

If we refer to Simon Sinek (http://bit.ly/2ODz8Jq) and the idea of the golden circle, the limbic part of the brain governs behaviour and why you do what you do this is the earliest and most primitive part of the brain. 

Surfing is an emotional expression. 

For those who surf, it is one of the things in life that make them most happy. Ever heard a surfer say “one last wave” only to stay out there for another hour getting ten more waves? This is because the feeling is almost addictive. However, I have also seen people have bad experiences the first time they went surfing and never took it up because they had a bad time. It’s important as a teacher to ensure a good and safe time, but the ocean is unpredictable and not everyone will enjoy it.

A place that directly pops into mind Indonesia.

Surfing is a good way to let go and be in the now – the perfect way to escape from life’s stresses. The idea of ‘flow state’ can definitely be achieved while surfing. Flow state is the complete energised focus at the task at hand, where someone is so focused on what they are doing that they don’t have the capacity to think about something else (wikipedia). Named by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi.

Surfing requires all of your attention in order to be successful. The wave is constantly changing due to refraction, wind direction, swell direction, sand moving, and currents moving around in the ocean. In order for your timing to be perfect you need to be able to read the changing environment (more on this in a future post).

Achieving Goals

Constant progression, the feeling of accomplishment every time you go out; whether you caught a wave or not, you still got dressed, got the board out and waxed, and got wet. But the feeling of progressing, whether it’s catching a wave, landing a maneuver you’ve tried 100 times or even just making it out the back, is unlike anything else because you have put so much time and effort into achieving that goal. Let me tell you though, it’s not always sunshine, dolphins, and rainbows, life always has a way of balancing itself out and there will be times when you feel like giving up. That’s the beauty of it, when the highs are that high, the lows are contrasting but equally as low. “What goes up must come down” (Isaac Newton), unless your emotions carry the weight of helium, in which case you don’t feel that much anyway.


Self-expression: imagine each wave as a blank canvas used to express yourself, dancing with mother nature in your own way. Creating art on that last little bit of energy from the universe before it changes form, from water displacement to friction that grinds rocks and shells into fine particles of sand that we then use to make glass and other products out of, the circle of human destruction. I mean who knows what the purpose of sand is anyway, that’s besides the point. Who doesn’t want to get back to their roots and play in mother-nature’s womb?

Back to Your Roots

Immersion in mother-nature: the ocean is what gives life, it accounts for between 50 and 80% of the world’s oxygen. (NOAA, How much oxygen comes from the ocean? https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ocean-oxygen.html#, 06/12/20). We are born out of nature, we belong to a greater vision we call life, but the need to have more than the next person has pushed society away from its roots. Surfing allows us to enjoy ourselves in the life giving ocean giving us the therapy we need after being trapped in our homes, at work, or in the urban jungle.

Adrenaline Rush

Adrenaline rush, undeniably intimidating it can be an adrenaline rush when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. There are many dangers involved with surfing. There’s the potential of drowning; being held underneath the water for a longer period of time. You could hurt yourself by wiping out and hitting the reef or sand bottom. There are larger, more predatory creatures that live in the sea like sharks and even crocodiles. There is bad weather and strong currents that can throw you off-guard and turn things from quite pleasant to very dangerous in a short space of time. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. On your journey to the reward you may feel your “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” vomit on your wetsuit “moms spaghetti.”

This feeling that you have is called adrenaline, some people are junkies and can’t get enough of it, others may have different feelings about it, but there is a reason they call it a rush. 

I am sure that those aren’t the only reasons and everyone has their own, personal experience that drives them to keep on surfing. 

Drop us an email, reach out to us on social media, or comment on the blog page, we would love to hear your reasons for why you surf. 



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