Just like everywhere else, there are a few things to know before paddling out.

Just like everywhere else, there are a few things to know before paddling out. Photo: Adam Burns

The Inertia

The dilemma is always inevitable: it’s the perfect day to paddle out, but your favorite surf spot is overcrowded. It’s understandable why everyone is crowding the pier–endless rights form off the pillars, and there’s just a breath of an offshore breeze under a dazzling blue sky. You’re on the fence about putting yourself in the mix, but you can’t pass up on the opportunity and the conditions. You choose to go for it, but before you wax up and head out, there a few basic things you should know about when it comes to surfing a crowded pier break.

1. It’s all about selection.
When surfing a wave at a pier, you need to get used to the fact that there will be a constant selection of waves to choose from. Because of the pier’s formation, a permanent sandbar will always be creating waves. Pier waves are unlike any wave created by a reef, so become familiar with what you’re riding and learn the dynamics. Although trying to catch every wave is tempting, choosing the best wave is imperative in conserving your energy and, more importantly, having the most fun.

2. You’re not the only one surfing.
As great conditions emerge, be aware that crowds will form. Have an open mind and realize that there are other surfers in the water with you. Understand that some are more competitive than others, and that yes, there will be the occasional wave-snaker that everyone despises. If you get cut off, remember that everyone around you is looking for that same unmatchable feeling that only surfing can provide.

3. Watch where you’re going.
Surfing next to a pier is a little bit limiting.  You can really only surf in one direction–unless you’re trying to shoot the pier, it’s advised that you follow the line away from the pier, to avoid any collisions with the pillars. The wave itself typically points away from the pier anyway, but just in case you’re feeling risky, be careful.

4. Yes, there will be sharks.
The common misconception that many surfers have is that the pier is built specifically for the surf break. The reality is that there will always be pier fishermen with their lines in the water only yards from where you’re surfing, which most of the time, means there may be a few sharks around. Don’t be frightened by a few fins here and there; sharks are hungry for food just like you’re hungry for waves.

5. Enjoy yourself.
Some of the most memorable waves can come from surfing near a pier. The unique wave that is hand-crafted by the pier creates an unforgettable ride. In the heat of the competitive crowd it can be easy to forget the true reason why you’re surfing, so remember to make the most of every wave that comes your way. Enjoy your surroundings, ride the wave of your life, and above all else, have fun.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.