Surf Height - Traditional vs Face Height

We all know that surfers measure waves differently. Some appear to undercall, while others might seem to exaggerate. Surfers indulge in a range of different measuring systems depending on the context and location. 

One way to measure surf height is the face (front) of a wave, from top to bottom. This is what we’d call Face Height. 

The “Traditional” system is a well-established alternative to measuring the wave's face, and consistently equates to roughly half the face height. You might have heard someone make a call like “4ft Hawaiian”, this is a reference to the Traditional system. 

In your Surfline Account settings, you can choose between the following surf height preferences: 

  • Meters 


  • Feet (Face Height) 
  • Feet (Traditional) 
      • We have set this as a default preference for Australian and New Zealand users, while the rest of the world defaults to Face Height. 

Example: a "4ft Traditional" wave is the same as: 

  • Face Height: 8ft on the face 
  • Body Height Reference: 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 and Face values. For example, a two to three times overhead wave would have a 12-15’+ wave face) would be 6 to 8 feet traditional. 

To check or change the surf height displayed on your account, please head to or click on the Account tab in the Surfline app. 



Hit Account in the bottom right corner, and find Surf Height under the UNITS section


If you have any further questions about surf height, please submit a request or email Customer Support at Please include some screenshots of your current surf height settings and the name of the surf spot you are viewing.  


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