10 Fun Things to do When the Surf is Flat

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You pull up to your surf spot with no waves to be found. But, your desire to do something to scratch that surf itch lives on. Fear not, flat ocean friend, these are ten fun things you can do even when the surf is flat.

1. Practice turns on a surfskate

Surfskating is quickly rising in the ranks of something to do not just when the surf is flat, but also as a sport in itself. No matter the time of day or what the wave forecast says, you can ride a surfskate at any time. Use it to master turns on your forehand and backhand, cruise through town, and overall increase your board time. Many surfers who train with a surfskate claim it makes a huge difference when it comes to transferring skills out in the water.

The 10 Best Surfskates: Buyer’s Guide

2. Fill out a surf journal

If the weather’s bad and the surf is flat, consider starting a surf log or ocean-themed journal. Write about your favorite wave, record your surf sessions, sketch and color pictures, make collages, and get creative when it comes to documenting your surf journey. I’ve been keeping a surf log for the past year and have really enjoyed reflecting on how surfing impacts other areas of my life. Plus, I now know what conditions I love to surf in when looking at a forecast.

Some prompts could include:

  • What would your perfect surf session look like?
  • What is your most memorable day out on the ocean?
  • What skills would you like to learn within the next year?
  • Design a surfboard, swimwear, or wetsuit
  • Draw your perfect wave
  • Make a collage of images and words to create a surf-themed vision board

3. Repair your surfboards

If you’re like me, you probably put fixing dings on the bottom of your to-do list, especially if your dinged board isn’t your favorite board in your quiver. But, you’ll have to do it at some point. Better to do it now than when the surf is pumping!

broken surfboard fin box
Cracked fin box from when my surfboard hit my face

4. Hop on a balance board

Fine-tune your balance by practicing tricks on a balance board. While you can D.I.Y. one with an old skate deck or board plus a roller, there are now a handful of balance board brands that cater directly to surfers. You can easily kill an hour or two messing around with a balance board alone, especially if you’re doing it with friends.

5. Enjoy a surf movie marathon

If the weather is bad, consider the day a write-off and tuck into a solid surf movie marathon. Surf’s Up, Blue Crush, Chasing Mavericks, Breath… the works. Some of the best surf movies are on Netflix. If you don’t have a Netflix subscription, there’s always YouTube.

6. Dive into a good surf book

There’s nothing cozier than lighting a few candles and tucking into a bubble bath with a good book in hand. We’ve rounded up the best surf books to peruse if your bookshelf is empty. Of course, reading Barbarian Days by William Finnegan is a rite of passage to every surfer.

7. Organize your surf gear

Turn on some music and declutter your swimwear drawer, rinse out your wetsuit, sort out your quiver. If you’re super crafty, build a board rack. Is your wax looking grey and crusty? If you squint, can you find little hairs embedded into it? Yeah, scrape it off and give your board a mini makeover. Make a small to-go kit for your car that keeps a spare fin key, surf wax, and dry bag. When the next swell arrives, you’ll be sorted.

8. Take a yoga class geared for surfers

I recently signed up for The Salty Club, a fitness website and app made for surfers. While I prefer to take yoga classes in person, Fiji’s lockdown measures have relegated me to stretch it out inside of my house. There are free yoga classes on YouTube–search for videos that target the back and shoulders for a real surf-specific stretch.

9. Go for a standup paddle

If it’s windy, go kiting. If it’s not, go standup paddleboarding. While paddling doesn’t offer the same thrill that surfing does, it’s a great way to get out onto the water. You’ll be able to enjoy the ocean, get in a core workout, and develop some upper body strength.


10. Plan your next surf trip

Why not plan a surf trip for when it’s safe to travel again? Consider joining a surf camp in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Portugal, France, or going on a full surf charter. There are hundreds of surf camps all around the world that cater to just about every type of traveler (and every skill level). If you prefer a bit more freedom, take a look at hotels near an iconic surf break you’ve always wanted to visit.

What do you like to do when the surf is flat?

Read more surf stories

The Surf Log: A Surfboard to the Face
10 Incredible Benefits of Surfing
The 13 Best Podcasts for Surfers
Courses for Confidence: How Freediving Makes You a Better Surfer