Questions on surf height?

Do the surf height predictions seem smaller on Surfline?

If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, we’ve defaulted the surf height readings to be Traditional Height (learn more below). Anywhere else in the world, Surfline defaults to Face Height surf readings.


This can all be customised in your Account settings:

On Surfline, any body-relative readout (e.g. double overhead) will remain the same whether you've got Traditional Height or Face Height set.


What is Traditional Height? You might have heard someone make a call like “4ft Hawaiian”. This is a reference to the Traditional Height system. The Traditional system is a well-established alternative to measuring the wave's face, and equates to roughly half the face height. Example: a 4ft wave measured using the Traditional system is the same as

  • Face Height: 8ft on the face
  • Body-relative: 2-3 feet “overhead” (above the head of a riding surfer with bent knees)

It is important to bear in mind that as the size of the wave increases, so too does the gap between the Traditional Height and Face Height values. For example, a 2-3x overhead wave would have a 12-15’+ wave face) would be 6-8 feet traditional.


Surf height is the height of breaking waves you’re seeing at the beach. Swell height is how much a boat bobs up and down further out to sea. Swell height, period & direction of travel will influence surf height. Learn more, here:

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