Surfing, and Costa Rica tides explainedPosted by Jul11, 2010 Comments /span>
Well, as head surf instructor for Shaka beach retreat talking about and explaining the tides has become an everyday task for me. Many people come to the beach and they don’t understand why certain times of the day are good for surfing and other times are considered bad. The beach is the beach, so what difference does it make when i go surfing? So anyway the purpose of this blog is to explain how the tides affect our beaches here in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.
1. High tide & low tide. About every 6 hours the tide switches from low to high and vice-versa. The tide goes out for 6 hours then the tide comes in for 6 hours. So if low tide is 6am and rising, then mid tide is around 9am, and high tide is 12noon then it turns around and goes back out. An interesting thing to note is when the tide switches directions the waves can go completely flat for 15-20 minutes. This can give a false impression of wave size and conditions to someone who arrives to surf right at that moment. I always advise beginners to watch the waves for 10-15 to get an accurate assesment before jumping in.
2. Here in Costa Rica the tide swing is pretty big around 8-9 feet difference between low and high tide. An interesting thing is every coastal area around the globe has different levels or measurements of tide swings, some ranging to less then a foot to over 20 feet. Variables such as the the moon phase, time of year, and geographical location greatly affect day to day tide levels. On any given day here the low or high tide can vary 2-3 feet so its important to check the local tide chart as well as a visual check.
3. Every day the tides move up about 1 hour. If high tide comming in Monday is 8am, then Tuesday high tide will be 9am then wednesday 10am and so on. So the 2 things to think about are that tides switches aproximately every 6 hours from either low or to high and roughly every 6 days the time of a high or low tide will completely switch.
Here is a tide chart for July 2010 to show the changes
|Fri 01||02:36 AM 9.60 ft||08:52 AM −0.47 ft||03:11 PM 9.25 ft||09:10 PM 0.02 ft|
|Sat 02||03:27 AM 9.91 ft||09:40 AM −0.85 ft||03:59 PM 9.73 ft||10:02 PM −0.32 ft|
|Sun 03||04:17 AM 10.03 ft||10:28 AM −1.04 ft||04:48 PM 10.04 ft||10:53 PM −0.47 ft|
|Mon 04||05:06 AM 9.95 ft||11:16 AM −1.00 ft||05:38 PM 10.12 ft||11:44 PM −0.42 ft|
|Tue 05||05:57 AM 9.64 ft||12:04 PM −0.75 ft||06:27 PM 9.98 ft|
|Wed 06||12:36 AM −0.16 ft||06:49 AM 9.16 ft||12:54 PM −0.29 ft||07:19 PM 9.65 ft|
|Thu 07||01:31 AM 0.25 ft||07:43 AM 8.57 ft||01:46 PM 0.29 ft||08:14 PM 9.20 ft||Last Quarter|
|Fri 08||02:29 AM 0.71 ft||08:42 AM 7.96 ft||02:42 PM 0.92 ft||09:13 PM 8.73 ft|
|Sat 09||03:32 AM 1.12 ft||09:46 AM 7.47 ft||03:44 PM 1.48 ft||10:15 PM 8.34 ft|
|Sun 10||04:38 AM 1.38 ft||10:55 AM 7.18 ft||04:50 PM 1.86 ft||11:19 PM 8.10 ft|
|Mon 11||05:45 AM 1.43 ft||12:02 PM 7.14 ft||05:57 PM 2.01 ft|
|Tue 12||12:20 AM 8.04 ft||06:46 AM 1.30 ft||01:02 PM 7.32 ft||06:58 PM 1.95 ft|
|Wed 13||01:14 AM 8.11 ft||07:38 AM 1.07 ft||01:54 PM 7.60 ft||07:51 PM 1.76 ft|
|Thu 14||02:03 AM 8.26 ft||08:23 AM 0.80 ft||02:39 PM 7.93 ft||08:36 PM 1.51 ft|
|Fri 15||02:46 AM 8.42 ft||09:02 AM 0.55 ft||03:19 PM 8.24 ft||09:16 PM 1.25 ft||New Moon|
|Sat 16||03:26 AM 8.56 ft||09:38 AM 0.36 ft||03:56 PM 8.49 ft||09:54 PM 1.04 ft|
|Sun 17||04:04 AM 8.62 ft||10:12 AM 0.26 ft||04:32 PM 8.66 ft||10:31 PM 0.89 ft|
|Mon 18||04:40 AM 8.58 ft||10:46 AM 0.26 ft||05:06 PM 8.73 ft||11:06 PM 0.83 ft|
|Tue 19||05:16 AM 8.43 ft||11:19 AM 0.37 ft||05:41 PM 8.70 ft||11:43 PM 0.87 ft|
|Wed 20||05:52 AM 8.18 ft||11:53 AM 0.58 ft||06:15 PM 8.58 ft|
|Thu 21||12:20 AM 1.00 ft||06:29 AM 7.84 ft||12:27 PM 0.86 ft||06:51 PM 8.40 ft|
|Fri 22||12:59 AM 1.19 ft||07:08 AM 7.46 ft||01:04 PM 1.18 ft||07:30 PM 8.18 ft|
|Sat 23||01:42 AM 1.41 ft||07:51 AM 7.09 ft||01:46 PM 1.50 ft||08:15 PM 7.97 ft||First Quarter|
|Sun 24||02:31 AM 1.60 ft||08:43 AM 6.80 ft||02:36 PM 1.77 ft||09:09 PM 7.80 ft|
|Mon 25||03:29 AM 1.70 ft||09:46 AM 6.66 ft||03:37 PM 1.94 ft||10:12 PM 7.77 ft|
|Tue 26||04:35 AM 1.60 ft||10:56 AM 6.79 ft||04:47 PM 1.88 ft||11:20 PM 7.94 ft|
|Wed 27||05:42 AM 1.27 ft||12:05 PM 7.23 ft||05:58 PM 1.53 ft|
|Thu 28||12:26 AM 8.34 ft||06:45 AM 0.71 ft||01:06 PM 7.92 ft||07:04 PM 0.95 ft|
|Fri 29||01:26 AM 8.88 ft||07:41 AM 0.06 ft||02:02 PM 8.71 ft||08:03 PM 0.27 ft|
|Sat 30||02:21 AM 9.42 ft||08:33 AM −0.58 ft||02:53 PM 9.46 ft||08:57 PM −0.37 ft||Full Moon|
|Sun 31||03:12 AM 9.85 ft||09:22 AM −1.08 ft||03:42 PM 10.06 ft||09:47 PM −0.83 ft|
Many beaches here are categorized as tide optimal breaks; for example Playa Carmen is a mid/high to high tide break, Santa teresa, La lora is mid to mid/low break.
Depending on what time a particular tide is, what the current wind direction is, as well as the swell direction and size will completely dictate the schedule for an entire day or even week in the eyes of a surf instructor or experienced surfer.
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