Point breaks offer up some of the best waves on the planet.

But what is a point break exactly? And how are the different to other types of breaks?

Don't worry, this post is about to explain it all.

In this article you'll learn:

  • What a point break is, and how to identify one.
  • What makes them unique.
  • What the difference is between point breaks, beach breaks, reefs, etc.
  • Where the best point breaks in the world are located.

And a whole lot more.

There's a lot to get through in this ultimate guide, so buckle up, and let's go!


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WHAT IS A POINT BREAK?

A point break is a type of wave that breaks along/across a prominent piece of land, such as:

  • A headland
  • A sandy point
  • A rocky outcrop

What makes them unique is the way the waves bend and wrap around the point, creating mechanical waves that can peel and break for miles - literally. 

In fact the longest point break in the world, Chicama, can break for up to 8km!.

Point breaks are coveted in the surfing community as they offer up the longest rides, and break in a predictable way.


HOW IS A POINT BREAK DIFFERENT TO A BEACH BREAK OR REEF

The biggest difference between a point break and other styles of breaks is the way a swell has to wrap around a headland (or point if you will). 

This wrapping, or refracting if you prefer, is what sets point breaks apart from everything else with the waves moving down adjacent to the point, rather than perpendicular. 

But let’s take a closer look at how point breaks differ below:


POINT BREAK VS BEACH BREAK

Beach breaks face perpendicular to ocean swells, and as such they don’t break for as long, or as predictably as a point break would.

Instead, the direction a wave will break depends largely on the swell direction, and the under water topography, or sandbanks as they’re known. 

Typically, a beach break will throw up short, unpredictable rides breaking in either direction, left or right, and will very greatly depending upon the tides too. 


POINT BREAK VS REEF BREAK

There are a lot of similarities between a reef break and a point break, but some key differences in there too. 

Reef breaks will break on rock, or coral - as too will some point breaks. 

But the difference is in the refracting of the swell around a headland or point that sets them apart. 

The wrapping nature of a swell will allow the swell to run down the point rather than focusing straight in on it.

Not to confuse you, but you can have a reef break that follows all the same mechanics of a point break; how it breaks, swell refraction etc. but it’s still not classed as a point break because it’s not connected to a land mass. 

Take Restaurants in Fiji for example (ref image above), a reef break wave where the swells wrap and roll down the reef, but because it’s not connected to land, it’s considered a reef break and not a point break.


POINT BREAK VS RIVER MOUTH

River Mouths are similar in so many ways to a point break, yet very different too. 

A river mouth will throw up long peeling, predictable waves that break along a sandy bottom, oftentimes breaking for hundreds of meters. 

The big difference though is how the waves are formed. 

A point break is formed either from sand deposits from swells that wrap around a headland to create the sand banks, or from rocky outcrops or reefs that shape the headland itself.

River Mouths on the other hand are created by sand and silt deposits from a river flowing out to sea.

As sand and silt flow out from the river they sink to the bottom to create a sand bank, and if everything aligns this sand and silt deposit will create long, sand bottom peeling waves that can be fun as hell.


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LIST: THE WORLD’S BEST POINT BREAKS

Want to know where the best point breaks in the world can be found?

Keep reading...


JEFFREY'S BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

One of the worlds longest right-hand point breaks, breaking over a rocky shelf in South Africa. 

An iconic spot, famous for its long stretched out walls, tubes, and its crazy marine life (yes, this is where famously Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white).


SUPER-BANK, AUSTRALIA

The jewel in the crown of Australia's East Coast, the Super Bank (a largely man-made phenomenon) is known world wide as one of the best waves on the planet. 

Expect sand bottom tubes, and long open walls - expect too a hell of a lot of people, as this is one of the most crowded surf spots in the world!


RINCON, CALIFORNIA

Rincon is a mellow right-hand point break in California, a natural footers dream. 

On it's day it can rival anywhere, but as with most point breaks you can expect a crowd, as this is one of the best waves on the California coast. 


CHICAMA, CHILE

Officially the longest point break in the world!

Chicama in Chile is a point break that spans roughly 8km, with multiple sections and take-off spots to choose from. 

The place itself might not be the most beautiful, but if you're after left handers that run for literally miles, you've found your spot.


RAGLAN, NEW ZEALAND

Raglan is home to the most iconic point break in New Zealand. 

A series of point breaks in fact, stretching out from the beach across multiple headlands, the long left-handers are a goofy footers dream. 


SKELETON BAY, NAMIBIA

Discovered in an online surf competition back in the day where the public would scour Google Earth for potential, unknown world class waves, and boy did they find a gem.

Quite possibly the best wave on planet earth, period. 

Surfers have been known to have tube rides here for over 30seconds, WTF!


NOOSA HEADS, AUSTRALIA

Noosa's point breaks are quite possibly the most beautiful in the world.

Sure, they may not offer top to bottom tubes like the Super Bank down the coast, but if Longboarding is your jam, then you've just found your heaven. 

Sand bottom peeling right handers, amongst a backdrop of tropical national park, Koala's and all.

Read our Guide to Surfing Noosa here for more.


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CONCLUSION

If you've never surfed a point break before, this is something that you just have to do.

One wave on a point like this could be the wave of your life, trust me. 

Yes they're often crowded, and yes your wave count will likely be low, but the payoffs of getting that one wave is well, well worth it.

Yew!
Rowan 🤙

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

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