Ever heard of point breaks? And no, we’re not talking about the movie…

Point break waves form along headlands (or rocky points), offering surfers extended, consistent rides, unlike any other type of surf break.

Interested? Continue reading this guide as we explore what makes these waves unique, why surfers love them, and how they differ from other surf breaks.

Understanding Point Break Waves

Simply put, a point break is when waves consistently break along a headland or point of land. These waves typically peel and break in one direction, allowing the surfer to enjoy longer waves (often hundreds of metres) and a smooth ride that frequently wraps around the shore.

As such, the phrase ‘surfing the point’ refers to riding waves at a point break. It involves catching and riding waves that break along a headland or point of land. 

Point breaks are highly sought after by surfers looking to practice different manoeuvres and tricks that require more time and space than other types of breaks, such as beach or coral reef breaks.

For all these reasons, point breaks are often considered ideal for both advanced and beginner surfers due to their predictable and manageable wave patterns.

This consistency makes point breaks easier to read as surfers can anticipate the wave’s behaviour and position themselves accordingly for the best ride.

Types of Surf Breaks

From the shifting sandy bottoms of beach breaks to the rugged contours of reef breaks and the dynamic flows of river breaks, surfers need to understand these differences to master the waves. With that said, let’s take a closer look at each in turn:

Beach Breaks

An image of a beach break

Beach breaks are the most common type of surf break. They’re formed when waves break on the sand bottom of sea floors (also known as sand bars).

Sandbars often shift with the tides (or if there are storms), creating conditions that can change from one day to the next. This variability makes beach breaks both exciting and unpredictable, offering most surfers a different experience with each visit.

Not only that, but the nature of beach breaks is such that they produce a range of waves, from gentle rollers suitable for a beginner surfer to fast, hollow barrels that challenge the most experienced riders.

However, the sandy bottom provides a forgiving platform for those learning to surf—reducing the risk of injury that’s more prevalent in reef or point breaks.

As we’ve already hinted, understanding the conditions that create good waves at a beach break involves monitoring the tides, wind, and sediment movement. That’s why at Rapture Surfcamps, our professional coaches will teach you how to read beach breaks, regardless of whether you’re on a beginner-friendly beach or traversing a type of wave suitable for more advanced surf.

Reef Breaks

An image of a reef break

Reef breaks are formed when waves break over coral or rocky seabeds. These breaks offer hollow and fast waves that form over a reef’s fixed structure, creating the perfect conditions for advanced surfers looking to find the barrel of their dreams.

However, reef breaks come with their own risks. The shallow water above the sharp coral or rocks poses a significant danger to surfers, particularly during wipeouts when the risk of injury from the reef below is high.

The challenge of reef breaks isn’t just in their waveform but also in their location. Often situated off the coastline, they require a paddle or boat ride to reach. Once there, surfers are rewarded with breaking waves that, while less forgiving than beach breaks, offer the exhilaration of riding a more challenging wave.

If you’re new to surfing reef breaks, we’d recommend going with an experienced guide, instructor or local who knows the ins and outs of the reef.

River Breaks

River breaks are where a river’s freshwater current meets the ocean’s saline thrust. The result? The creation of a unique and often unpredictable wave break.

These wave breaks can occur as standing waves (also known as stationary waves) over submerged obstacles or as tidal bores when the incoming tide pushes against the river’s flow. These can create rideable waves that extend for miles.

Various factors influence the dynamics of river breaks, including the river flow volume, the riverbed’s shape, and the timing of the tides. As a result, river breaks are less predictable and often more challenging to surf than their oceanic counterparts.

It’s also worth mentioning that river breaks are less common than beach or reef breaks. However, they offer a memorable experience for those who seek them out. The convergence of rivers and oceans can produce powerful and consistent waves, such as the famous Severn Bore in the UK.

Iconic Point Breaks Around the World

The world of surfing is marked by point breaks that have become legendary for their perfect waves and breathtaking scenery. These iconic spots are pilgrimage destinations for surfers, each with its own story.

For example, Chicama in Chile boasts the title of the longest point break in the world. With waves that can break for up to 8 kilometres, it offers an almost endless ride that’s become the stuff of legend.

Elsewhere, the Trestles area in San Clemente boasts a cluster of breaks like Cotton’s, Uppers, Lowers, and Church, offering a variety of point break experiences in a single location.

Of course, there’s also Malibu in Southern California, where you’re bound to find a surfable wave! This has long been synonymous with surfing, thanks to its smooth waves and historical significance in surfing culture. Further up the coast, Rincon in Santa Barbara is celebrated for its perfect right-hand waves that have captivated surfers for generations.

On the other side of the world, Jeffreys Bay in South Africa is a surf spot renowned for its long, fast waves. It’s one of the most famous point breaks and a major draw for surfers seeking world-class waves.

Lastly, there’s Australia’s Superbank on the Gold Coast, Noosa in Queensland, and Raglan in New Zealand. Each offers unique point-break waves etched in the hearts of surfers who have ridden them.

Rapture Surf Camps and Point Breaks

Our camps are oases for surfers looking to immerse themselves in the world of waves and point breaks. Strategically located near some of the globe’s most desirable surf spots, these camps offer first:

At Rapture Surfcamps, we offer a unique surfing experience. With a network of eight surf camps across five countries on four continents, we’ve helped more than 35,000 people worldwide learn to surf and find the best waves. Our expert instructors can guide you to the best point breaks in Bali, Costa Rica, Morocco, Nicaragua and Portugal, ensuring a memorable and thrilling surfing adventure.

Attending a surf camp near iconic point breaks is more than just a holiday; it’s an education in surf culture and technique. Surfers leave with a deeper understanding of wave dynamics, improved skills, and, often, a profound connection with the surf community.

Interested? Start your surf journey today at Rapture Surfcamps.

Check out our surf camps!