The sport of surfing is popular around the world. It originated in Hawaii but has spread to other countries. Two of the world’s most famous surfing nations are the United States and United Kingdom, both with their own unique cultures. Despite the fact that the sport is popular worldwide, some cultural aspects may be similar. However, there are some differences between these two regions. This blog explores six major differences between surfing in America and the UK.

Distinctive Surfing Language

American surfers tend to use the term ‘bruh.’ While British surfers prefer a phrase like stoked.’

The difference in equipment used for surfing in the US and UK

According to their location, American surfer may use boards that are longer and narrower, designed for bigger swells. British surfers, on the other hand, may prefer wider and shorter boards, better suited for smaller waves.

American surfers are more likely to use boards made from high-performance materials, such as carbon fibre. British surfers might prefer to use more traditional materials like foam and fiberglass.

Wander With Wonder receives complimentary services and products as is the norm in the travel industry. Wander With Wonder will always report on places that we think offer great opportunities to our readers with honesty and integrity. Wander receives revenue from our ads and affiliate links. Some of these links are to Amazon. Wander is an Amazon Associate and earns commissions on qualifying purchases. We do not believe that these practices affect our reporting. Please visit our website for more information.

The number and type of fins can also vary depending on the location. The British waves might be more suited to single fin boards while American waves could require tri-fins and quad-fins with reinforced edges for maneuverability.

American surfers prefer boards with three or four fins. Photo by Maridav, iStock. Getty Images

American surfers like more extreme shapes such as swallow-tails, which increase speed and control. British surfers, on the other hand, may prefer more traditional tails, like square or rounded, for better stability when there are small to moderate waves.

The Differences Between Surfing Spots in the US and The UK

The US is known for its larger swells and more consistent waves. It also has a longer coastline with different beach, reef, and point breaks. UK Surfing spots have smaller and more unpredictable swells because of the UK’s proximity with smaller bodies of sea like the North Sea.

Climate is another factor that creates significant differences in the conditions of surfing between the US and UK. Surfers in America experience warmer temperatures and are more exposed to tropical storms, which can cause larger swells. UK surfers face colder temperatures, and weather conditions that are more variable at different times of the season.

The types found at US and UK surf spots are also different. US beaches have a higher proportion of sandy beaches while UK beaches tend to be rockier and feature pebble beaches.

US beaches like this one at Waikiki are typically sandy. Photo by eddygaleotti, iStock. Getty Images

Unique Clothing Styles

Surf fashion is a unique style that influences popular clothing and accessories. Due to the differences in climate, US surfers are more likely than UK surfers to wear clothing designed for warmer temperatures, such as breathable fabrics, light cotton, and shorts.

US surfers are known for their bright and bold colors. They also prefer “psychedelic prints” and fluorescent shades. UK surfers, on the other hand, may prefer muted colors, classic patterns, such as stripes or checkered prints, and darker, more neutral tones.

Surfers in the UK tend to dress more for cooler weather and colder water. Photo by MaximFesenko, iStock. Getty Images

UK surfers may prefer functional clothing, such as waterproof bags, thermal layers, and long-lasting protection against the cold.

Surfboards in the US are often brighter and more modern, with alternate tail shapes and colored rails. In the UK, classic, older designs such as fishtails inspired by the 70s and longboards that evoke the 1950s are making a comeback.

Near the Sheraton Waikiki, surfboards are stacked up and ready to be rented. Photo taken by Susan Lanier Graham

The Best Ways to Surf

US surfers are generally focused on improving their technical abilities and agility in order to excel at larger waves. US-style surfers are known for their high-performance maneuvers and turns, as well as their speed, power and fluidity across the wave.

UK-style surfers, on the other hand, are more focused on finesse and creativeness. It is important to read the ocean swell and adapt accordingly. UK surfers use elegant lines to move through the wave face, drawing smooth arcs. They also use cutbacks, cross steps, and other variations in style to stand out.

The US and UK have different surfing etiquette

Surfers in the US place a high value on ‘rights,’ or ownership. A wave is considered to be a surfer’s until someone else takes it. It can be a very intense situation when more experienced surfers are vying to catch waves.

UK surfers, on the other hand, are more passive and prefer to let everyone take turns in riding waves. British surfers are also known to offer advice and criticize each other to improve their technique.

A surfer in the UK heads over the rocks to surf. Photo by Marta Urbanska, iStock via Getty Images

Surfing in the US vs UK

These seven differences prove that surfing is not a sport for everyone. Each culture has its own flavor. It’s important that you respect the culture of other surfers, whether they are British or Americans.