We’ve all heard of rip tides and rip currents before, but is there actually any difference?

Or is it just the same thing, but with a different name. 

Turns out there is a difference between rip tides and rip currents, as you’re about to find out.


WHAT IS A RIP TIDE?

Rip tides appear in inlets or or estuaries and are affected by the tide only, and have nothing to do with waves. 

As water moves in or out of an inlet with the tide it creates a current, and this current is known as a rip tide. 

Rip tides don’t effect surfers very often, unless they’re surfing near an inlet or estuary.

A good example of a situation where a rip tide would effect a surfer would be when surfing a Rivermouth though for example.

As the tide flows in, there would be little to no rip tide present, but on an outgoing tide the flow can be incredibly strong.


WHAT IS A RIP CURRENT?

A rip current is very different to a rip tide - having nothing to do with tidal movements whatsoever. 

Instead, rip currents are the result of waves in the ocean. 

As waves break and move up the beach they create an imbalance in the water levels in the ocean, and water levels always strive to reach equilibrium. 

As such, the water must move back out to sea to create that balance, and this is what causes a rip current. 

Just like a stream, the travelling water moves in the path of least resistance back out to sea, typically via deeper water channels - and that’s your rip right there. 


RIP TIDE VS RIP CURRENT: KEY DIFFERENCES

Below are a quick view of the differences between rip tides and rip currents:

RIP TIDE

  • Occur in inlets and estuaries.
  • Caused by tidal movements.
  • Found in Rivermouths.

RIP CURRENT

  • Occur on beaches.
  • Caused by waves creating imbalance in water levels.

CONCLUSION

Rip tides and rip currents are both bodies of moving water, but as you can see there are some key differences between the two. 

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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