Being introduced to the surfing world also comes with a whole new dialect. You’ll find yourself in conversations where you’ll think “what da fack are they talking about ?! What does ‘swell’ even mean?”

Yep. The Saltyz got your back! Here are the top surf terms that are fluently used, and that you need to know to stay away from winning the kook-0f-the-day title.


What we call the “surf break” is the zone where waves start to break. There’s 3 main types of surf spots: Beach break, Point break & Reef break. Each surf break will produce a different style of wave depending on the sea bottom and the local topography.

beach break: Waves breaking over a sand bottom.

point break: Surf break where waves hits a rocky headland.

reef break: Waves breaking over a coral reef bottom.


right: a wave breaking towards the right from the point of view of a surfer paddling and riding the wave. From a beach viewpoint- facing the ocean-, the wave would break toward the left.

left: a wave breaking towards the left from the point of view of a surfer paddling and riding the wave. From a beach viewpoint -facing the ocean-, the wave would break toward the right.

A-frame: a peak-shaped wave breaking left and right with perfect shape.

wipe-out:  falling off the surfboard when surfing a wave, what the Salty team is professional at 😂.

close-out: when all parts of a wave break at the same time.

swell: A series of waves that have traveled from their source in a distant storm, and that will start to break once they reach shallow enough water.

set: a group of waves of larger size.

barrel or to get barreled: riding inside the hollow curl of a wave. It can also be called “tube”. Getting barreled is one of the most difficult and enjoyable surfing maneuver.

over-the-fall: the worst kind of wipeout. When a surfer free-falls from the highest part of the wave (and the most powerful) as it breaks over him/her with…. Fun guaranteed 😜!


Ever been chilling at the beach when suddenly all your stuff get washed by a wave ?! This usually comes with a high-pitched “AAAAAAAAH” girly scream. High tide baby ! Tides are a concept we’re not necessarily familiar with especially being and inlander. So here’s the basic stuff you need to know regarding tides and surfing.

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the gravitational forces of the moon and the sun on the ocean. Tides can significantly affect the shape, the size and the consistency of the waves. It takes about 6 hours for the ocean to go from high tide to low tide, which means there’s usually 2 high tides and 2 low tides in a day. Because the moon rises nearly an hour later each day, high tide (and naturally low tide) occur about an hour later each passing day.

high tide: When the sea rises to its highest level.

low tide: When the sea rises to its lowest level.

Spring tides: During new or full moons -occurring when the Earth, Sun & Moon line up-, the extra gravitational force of the Sun makes the oceans bulge more than usual, meaning high tide will be higher than usual and low tide, lower than normally.


fins: devices under the surfboard to give stability, control, direction and drive when riding a wave.

leash: leg rope that attaches a surfboard to the surfer.

wax: a substance rubbed on the top of a surfboard for traction.


goofy footed: surfer who surfs with the left foot backward.

regular footed: surfer who surfs with the right foot backward.

backside: Surfing with your back to the wave, a goofy foot going right, or a regular foot going left.

frontside: Facing the wave while surfing, a goofy foot going left or a regular foot going right.


onshore: winds blowing from the ocean to the shore. Strong onshore winds will create bad surfing conditions.

offshore: winds blowing toward to ocean from the land. Offshore winds usually mean clean surfing conditions.

glassy: when there’s no wind and the surfing conditions are excellent.

choppy: when the waves are subjected to cross winds and do not break cleanly: poor surfing conditions.


kook: a person who has an exaggerated idea of his/her surfing capacity and who doesn’t understand properly the rules of surfing.

Pumping: when the waves and the conditions are excellent.

Ripping: to surf very well.

Get pitted: synonym of getting barreled.

Greenroom: the space inside of a barrel.