Night Surfing: The Appeal and Risks of Paddling Out After Dark

Whether searching for an uncrowded break, cutting out time within a busy schedule, or chasing after a new experience, adventurous surfers paddle out after the sun sets to partake in nighttime surfing, welcoming the risks and unique experience of paddling out after dark. Stepping away from the crowds, night surfing offers a more serene experience with less crowded breaks. This allows surfers to have more freedom with chasing after waves, as they don’t have to share them with others.

“I like how peaceful night surfing is. It’s just you and the waves, it’s super quiet out there and you get to avoid the crowds,” said second year nursing major Shannon Raab. “It’s also nice just getting to spend that time with your friends in the water, without having to fight for the waves against tons of people.”

While the lack of crowds gives night surfers the advantage of reduced competition, surfers face an increased challenge when seeking out a wave with less visibility out in the water.

“Night surfing is more challenging just because it’s harder to see, especially if you go when there’s not a full moon,” said second year international studies major Anna Peters. 

This lack of visibility causes surfers to rely more on their intuition.

  “During the daylight, it’s a lot easier to look at the waves and go based on what you see,” said Raab. “Night surfing is a lot more about feeling the waves and guessing when the swell is coming because you can’t really see it until the peak of the wave reaches.”

Surfers seeking out the thrill of paddling out in the dark also face many risks. Without being able to rely heavily on one’s sight, mixed with the usual choppiness and high tide that accompanies late night waves, injuries are much more prevalent at this time.

“I’ve cut my foot a few times surfing the cliffs at night,” said second year cross disciplinary and journalism major Alicia Short. “Once, I got stuck during high tide and had to struggle up the cliffs, while they were muddy, holding my board with the waves crashing on me.”

Along with welcoming in the unideal surfing conditions, surfers also run an increased risk of a shark encounter, as sharks come in closer to shore at night to hunt.

“You’re definitely more aware of the possibility of sharks in the water,” said Raab. “It doesn’t necessarily scare me though, the only time I think it would make me more scared would be during the migration season of great whites.”

By: Kylie Capuano