Beach Break – A Beach Break is where the waves break on the sandy seabed. As the swell gets pushed over the sandbars, it forms into waves. Sandbars are always changing shape, and so does the break. This type of wave is the best break to learn to surf. Most of the beaches in the Tofino area would be considered beach break. Beach breaks can be very gradual allowing you to walk out for several hundred feet before getting chest deep. Gradual beach breaks have larger waves that break farther from shore. A steep beach break though can have very large waves that break right onto the sand. These types of beach breaks are excellent for skimboarding.
Point Break – A Point Break is a wave that breaks off a point; usually rock or concrete. As the swell comes in, the waves will start to peel from the point and work it’s way down the beach. We all remember Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves in “Point Break”. This was named after the type of wave!
Reef Break – The Reef Break is a wave that breaks over a coral reef or a rock seabed and sometimes man made reefs. As the swell passes over the reef, it turns into waves. Since the reef only changes very slowly over time, the waves can be perfect and consistent in their formation. These waves are usually the classic ones that you can see on the surfing videos. These waves can be unforgiving if you happen to wipe out badly, but can be the most rewarding in their perfection.
Rivermouth Break – Rivermouths can have waves that break over rocky ledges or sandy bottoms. Water pressure from the river entering the ocean causes waves to form. Depending on the force of the river, the current and seafloor can change rapidly, so pay attention. A great example is Margaret River in Australia.