What is outside? When to go for it? When to cross it?

February 24, 2017

Surfers have a particular lifestyle; there is no doubt about it. Their routine, gestures and vocabulary are, sometimes, strange to someone who does not surf, but the truth is, sooner or later you are going to be part of it and know every single word used during conversations between surfers, it is part of the whole surfing world.

That said, there are some words that must be learned really soon, on your first days in contact with the sport. Maybe you have already heard them before, but now it is time to figure out what they mean. I won’t stick to them right now because there are so many that we need to have a particular glossary article, and this is not the case. What I want to talk about now is the so called “outside”.

What is “the outside”?

The outside is where you want to be when going for a surf session. It is where the best waves break, longer, bigger, most of the times better that the one breaking on the inside. That is the further area of the ocean where you can see surfers waiting for waves. But, there is a right time to go to the outside. It all depends on how confident you are, how good you are paddling and, most importantly, how good you can duck dive. To reach the outside you will need to paddle a lot and duck dive a dozen (or maybe hundreds) of waves. Then, when you get there, you must be confident enough to sit on your board and make sure you are not on the way of other surfers. (Say hello to them when you reach the area).

When to go for the outside?

Well, your coach or instructor you know will take you there safely, the day they feel that it is your time.

Maybe your friend has already gone and you want it as well. Take your time, everyone has a different learning curve, your time will come. The first time you be magical, there is more silent and peaceful than the inside. Waves will probably be small and the turning point key to go to the outside is when you are able to catch a wave and stand-up on your board before the wave breaks.


This is the big difference, it fells so much better to take-off on a wave before it’s broken. You see that green wall, sometimes steep, focus on your feet and just drop to the bottom. You feel the energy of the wave from the beginning, higher speed than ever. After that, you will never want to stay on the inside anymore.

What should I know before going to the outside?

There are some important things to pay attention when going to the outside. You won’t have your instructor close to you all the time, at every session. Nevertheless, I’m sure you’re going to adventure to the outside. So please, read carefully the following advices and remember them when going to surf.

Beach breaks can be mean. Sometimes the waves are breaking more than 200 yards from the shore, you’ll have to paddle and duck dive all the way until you reach the outside. Make sure you can handle it and that you’re feeling good. Don’t do it alone, always have at least another surfer close to you. Pay attention to danger signs and ask lifeguards where the easiest way to paddle out is. Usually the return currents and channels are the best place, because there are less waves breaking there and the water pushes you to the outside. However, this can be dangerous and I don’t recommend for beginners. Please watch out for hidden submersed rocks at the bottom and to rocky coasts.

If you are at a point break, it is usually easier to reach the outside, as many of them have channels close to the rocks or river mouths. Some more experienced surfers walk to the edge of the rocks and just, straight at the outside. This must be done only after you’re an advanced surfer, with someone else that knows the place very well, otherwise, stay away and paddle. Point breaks are more predictable; the waves break in the same place and have a similar shape. This is great as you can go back to the outside without needing to duck dive a single wave after you’ve surfed yours.


For last, the reef breaks. You’ll only surf them after you are intermediate to advanced, especially if it is a shallow place. Still, pay attention to the bottom. If it is a coral reef or sharp rocky, use surfing boots. Always watch out for sea urchins, you don’t want to step over them, those things hurt a lot and can even perforate the sole of your boots. The worst part of walking over shallow reef to reach the outside is when the waves start to hit you. Sometimes you cannot start paddling because it is still too shallow, but the waves energy are pushing you backwards and this is the moment when your feet can get seriously cut.

Last advice, and this serves for any type of wave at any break. Pay attention to the sets while you are warming up before the session. Count how many waves are in the sets and how often they break. If you time your paddle out perfectly you can save lots of energy and time.