Every surfer on the planet wants to know when their favorite surf breaks are firing. Hence, surf report and surf forecasting websites have come a long way over the past 30 years to serve this fanatical need.
Back in the 80s, surf forecasting pioneer Sean Collins, founder of Surfline, launched the industry with daily telephone surf reports available at 1-900-976-SURF. The surf Hall-of-Famer also developed many of the tools and technologies which have paved the path for what we have on offer today, which is loads of highly technical and very useful information.
There are a lot of surf forecasting websites out there nowadays, and depending on where you live you might have a favorite more locally-focused surf report site which is not listed here.
However, I traveled the world surfing for over a year. And when I asked other surfers where they are going for their surf reporting needs, I heard a lot of the same names come up. And for the most part, they were the very same websites I went to for surf forecasting information.
So my curiosity took over and I decided to research the top surf forecasting sites in the world. I dug into some objective details such as who’s been around the longest and who has the most users. And sprinkled in some more subjective opinions regarding design, ease of navigation, and overall user experience in an effort to bring to light the top forecasting sites available.
That being said, I wrote this article in hopes of helping more surfers score better waves more often. So here is a breakdown of the top surf report and surf forecast websites in the world and what they have to offer. And one really awesome surf app if you’re surfing New Zealand or Australia.
*** Note: with just about all of the websites listed here you can expect them to have lots of information on the latest surf industry news, surf travel planning resources, articles about how to read and understand surf reports and forecasts, and all of the essential data, charts, and extra information that you could ever need or want as a surfer or aspiring expert forecaster. But for the sake of this article, my aim is to keep it simple and straightforward and note the basics.
SURFLINE SURF REPORT
Surfline is one of the largest and most visited surf report and surf forecast websites in the world. Founded in 1985, Surfline is a comprehensive wave forecasting website that provides everything you need to know about current and future surf conditions, wave height forecasting, tides, live winds, storms, swell periods, the latest surf news, and more. Surfline is also the official surf report and forecasting partner of the World Surf League (WSL).
BASED IN: Southern California
REGIONS COVERED: Worldwide surf reports and surf forecasting.
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: Easy to assess the conditions at a glance. Every day the Surfline staff of expert forecasters analyze the surf conditions and write up a morning report, a short-term forecast, and provide an afternoon update. Surfline uses a rating system of very-poor, poor, poor-fair, fair, fair-good, good, very good, and epic based on their assessment of the conditions.
SURF CAMS: Over 200 live surf cams around the globe. Over 100 of which are HD.
FREE VS PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP: You can watch webcams, check the daily surf report, and see their three-day surf forecast all for free. But with the premium membership, you can watch the surf cams ad-free, see a 17-day forecast, and gain additional insights and swell analysis by their team of expert forecasters. I’ve been a premium member for years and think it’s worth every penny.
GOOD TO KNOW: Whether you’re brand new to surf reports or an expert forecaster, Surfline has you covered. If you’re new to this, Surfline keeps it simple and straightforward with their forecast summaries and rating system. If you’re a seasoned pro, they also provide all the data you would ever need or want to get dialed into your local break or to score somewhere abroad.
PRICING: Free for basic. $69.99 if paid annually, or $12.99 per month for Surfline Premium. 50% off for students and military.
SURF APP: Surfline has a companion app for IOS and Android operating systems, you can check it out here.
MAGICSEAWEED (MSW) SURF REPORT
Founded in 2002 Magicseaweed is another one of the largest and most visited surf report and surf forecasting websites in the world. But rather than providing a detailed written analysis of the daily surf conditions and future forecasts, Magicseaweed aims to empower their users with the tools, information, and knowledge to be a self-sufficient expert forecaster themselves.
BASED IN: Southwest England
REGIONS COVERED: Global coverage with over 3,000 beaches in 180 countries.
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: MSW provides loads of forecasting data and charts so you are dialed into your local breaks and also equipped to take your knowledge of surf forecasting with you around the globe. Magicseaweed uses a rating system of one to five stars and color-coded wind directions of red, orange, and green to indicate if the winds are favorable or unfavorable.
SURF CAMS: Unknown, but guessing in the 100s since I use their reports and see lots of surf cams.
FREE VS PRO MEMBERSHIP: You can check webcams, the daily surf report, and view the ten-day surf forecast all for free. But with the pro membership, you can watch the surf cams advert-free, see a 16-day forecast, and gain additional insights and swell analysis by their team of expert forecasters. I’m a member of Magicseaweed Pro and it’s worth every cent.
GOOD TO KNOW: Magicseaweed’s one to five-star rating system and color coded live winds make it easy to assess the present and future conditions at a glance. But if you really want to better understand more about where waves come from and how they work, Magciseaweed has loads of great information to bring you up to speed. They also have tons of historical data so you can look into swells of the past to better understand swells of the future.
PRICING: Free for basic. €25.99 for Magicseaweed Pro if paid annually, or €2.69 per month.
SURF APP: Magicseaweed has a companion app for IOS and Android devices, you can check it out here.
COASTALWATCH SURF REPORT
Founded in 1998, Coastal Watch is one of Australia’s most popular and most visited surf report and surf forecasting websites.
BASED IN: Australia
REGIONS COVERED: Surf cams and reports for Australia. Long-term surf forecasting tools for Australia, Indo, Maldives, and more.
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: Coastal Watch provides a chart that shows a three-day snapshot of the current surf conditions including wave height, swell direction and period, wind direction and speed, and tide information. They also provide an 8-day offshore swell forecast. They also provide color-coded wind charts with blue and green being favorable winds and yellow, orange, and red being less favorable.
SURF CAMS: over 100 surf cams throughout the great island continent.
FREE VS PLUS+ MEMBERSHIP: You can check some webcams, the daily surf report, and view the eight-day basic surf forecast all for free. But with the plus membership, you can watch all of their surf cams ad-free, see a detailed 16-day forecast, and gain additional insights and a five day swell analysis by their team of expert forecasters.
PRICING: Free for basic. $78 billed annually for a 12-month subscription and $132 billed bi-yearly for a 24-month subscription to Coastal Watch Plus+.
GOOD TO KNOW: You’ll want to know the basics of surf forecasting to get by on the free version of Coastal Watch. They do have some great surf forecasting tutorials on offer to help you learn, but you’ll need to upgrade to Coastal Watch Plus+ to unlock the full articles.
SWELLNET SURF REPORT
Founded as a weather blog in 1998 by Ben Matson, Swell Net has become one of the most frequently visited and established surf report and surf forecasting websites for the Australian surfer.
BASED IN: Australia.
REGIONS COVERED: Core focus is Australia, but surf reports and forecaster notes are also available for other breaks around the world. The other regions do not appear to be updated regularly, with the exception of Indonesia. No surf reports or forecasts available for the Americas.
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: Swell Net offers daily observed surf reports for dawn patrol along with an afternoon update. They also provide excellent forecaster notes to fill you in on what’s to come and where your best chances of scoring the best waves will be.
SURF CAMS: 38 surf cams scattered around the land of Oz.
FREE VS PRO MEMBERSHIP: You can check surf cams, daily surf reports, and their five-day surf forecast along with their detailed forecaster notes all for free. But with the pro membership, you can watch the surf cams without ads, see a 16-day forecast, and gain additional insights and swell analysis by their team of expert forecasters.
PRICING: Free or $8.95 per month for Swell Net Pro.
SURF 2 SURF SURF REPORT
Founded in 2004, Surf2Surf is one of New Zealand’s most popular and accurate surf report and surf forecasting websites and apps.
BASED IN: New Zealand
REGIONS COVERED: New Zealand.
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: Surf2Surf serves up everything you need to know about the surf conditions in a beautifully designed and very easy to understand layout.
SURF CAMS: over 15 placed at many of New Zealand’s best surf breaks.
FREE VS PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP: Only a teaser for is available for free encouraging you to sign up. In order to unlock unlimited surf cam access, detailed reports, and long-range forecasts you’ll have to lay down the credit card and sign up. I signed up and used Surf2Surf extensively while surfing New Zealand and scored some of the best waves of my life.
GOOD TO KNOW: Surf2Surf also has a companion New Zealand Surfing Guidebook which would be worth every penny if you’re planning an extended trip there. You can check it out here.
PRICING: $5 per month or $49.95 for one year.
SHERPA SURF APP
Sherpa is unique as it uses the GPS and your phone to pull up the nearest breaks. Then it ranks and compares up to 40 spots at a time by matching their comprehensive database with daily surf conditions and serving the information up to you in a beautiful color coded platter.
BASED IN: New Zealand.
REGIONS COVERED: Started with New Zealand (307 spots) but has expanded to Australia (457 spots).
SURF REPORT AND FORECAST INFO: Not a desktop website. A very well designed surf app, Sherpa gives you everything you want to know about a break in very easy to navigate and user-friendly format. At a quick glance, you can assess the present conditions, ideal conditions, read a little bit about the break and its potential, and see a color-coded six-day forecast to get an idea of when it might be going off.
SURF CAMS: No surf cams, only reports, and forecasts.
PRICING: Free or $1.99 for ad-free use.