Best Surf Tracking Apps and Surf Watches 2021

by Candice Land
Published: Last Updated on

What’s better than enjoying the surf session of a lifetime? Being able to relive the moment when you review your time in the water! Whether you’re an absolute kook, or an experienced shredder, being able to track your surf is a major win.

Surfing has become an increasingly popular sport around the world. As a result, there are several surf tracking apps and surf watches on the market. These nifty gadgets and tools help water-lovers review their surf sessions, see where to improve, and pick the best time of the day to hit the water.

If you want to start surf tracking and need a device to do it, then you’ve come to the right place.

Calling all surfing nomads! Have a look at our list of top work and surf digital nomad destinations for surfers.

* Just to let you know that this article may contain affiliate links. If you click on them we might receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

surfing in bali

Why Track Your Surf?

We’ve come across a few people in the water that have said tracking your surf removes the feeling of freedom. According to them, it eliminates the enjoyment when you review the session’s statistics.

Each to their own. In my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of jumping off an epic wave and checking your top speed. It’s exhilarating.

Note that “jumping off an epic wave” is intentional, and not due to slipping. That’s because we know how to wax our boards properly – check out our guide here.

We’ve met far more people who want to know more about the app that we use, which watch is best for surfing, and what the time is in the water. There are several benefits to tracking your surf, and it depends entirely on the surfer.

In case you were wondering, we use Dawn Patrol which is compatible with the Apple Watch.

As a beginner surfer, I love being able to review my sessions and celebrate the small milestones. A new top speed, a record distance, or the longest session to date. Considering that I’m not getting barreled, these statistics give me an adrenaline rush.

Are you also a beginner, looking for the perfect surfboard? Read our guide on the best surfboards for beginners here.

As a more experienced surfer, Ollie enjoys different benefits from his surf watch and app. For example, he checks the tides to know the best time to hit the water, and he uses it to get fitness points for his medical aid.

There are other benefits to tracking your surf with a surf watch, including;

  • Know the time in the water
  • Satellite map view of your rides
  • Measure top speed on the wave of the session
  • See the longest wave of a session
  • Get a monthly overview of surf sessions
  • Monitor tides and ocean conditions
  • Track surf destinations (and the boards used for each session)

What Should a Surf Tracking App or Watch Include?

There are various surf tracking apps and watches on the market, each offering its own unique perks. The best watch for you will depend on what you hope to get out of the watch.

Overall, there are a few key factors to consider when making a purchase.

  • Water-resistance – the recommended water resistance for surfing is 10 ATM, but 5 ATM is good enough (50 meters deep)
  • Tide functionality – to check tides and know when it is best to surf a certain spot
  • Pre-loaded beaches – to check out the surfing beaches nearest to you
  • Brand – this is important for post-sale service and quality reputation
  • Durability – losing your watch in big swell is a nightmare

When surfing our local, cold waters in Cape Town, we find comfort in knowing that our watch strap has the added protection of our wetsuit. Make sure that the strap holds fast when you don’t have the “luxury” of a wetsuit.

Speaking of cold water surfing, read our guide on surfing essentials for cold water before you visit a chilly spot.

Our Top Five Surf Tracking Apps and Surf Watches

Keeping the above considerations in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the best surf tracking applications and watches.

dawn patrol

1.   Best Overall: Dawn Patrol (and Apple Watch)

We simply have to place the Dawn Patrol app in position number one. It’s leagues above the rest. The Dawn Patrol app helps you to track your waves, relive your surf and share your session far and wide. The design is slick, easy to read, and monitors your surfs in detail.

Dawn Patrol is an IOS application that integrates with Apple’s Health and Activity apps and is compatible with Surfline. With Dawn Patrol, you’re able to review your waves on a map or satellite view, analyze your surf sessions and even segment your sessions by surfboard and surf spot.

Perhaps one of the best parts about the Dawn Patrol app is that you can configure your Apple Watch (Series 4,5,6 and SE) face to show the tides, swell, and conditions of your favorite spot. All that you need to do to enjoy these epic features is subscribe to Soul Surfer, the paid version of the app.

Subscribe to Soul Surfer here and transform your Apple Watch into a stunning, full-functioning surf watch.

Pros

  • Surf forecast on your wrist with Soul Surfer subscription
  • Challenge yourself by monitoring milestones
  • Measure your heart rate and calories per session (integrates with Apple’s Health and Activity Apps)
  • Relive and share your waves in a visual way

Cons

  • Only compatible with IOS

Don’t have an Apple Watch? Begin shopping so that you can use the amazing Dawn Patrol app

2.   Most Durable: Rip Curl Search GPS 2

Having a watch that stays on your wrist while surfing giants is a top priority. The Rip Curl Search GPS Series is one of our top recommendations when it comes to staying secure during a surf session.

Available in a range of colors, the Rip Curl surf watch is light, small, and, of course, durable. Designed specifically for telling the time and surfing, the watch shares details on the swell, wind, and tide. Surfline’s tide charts and real-time surf conditions are also synced into the watch.

The Rip Curl GPS Series also shows live stats when surfing, highlighting wave count, top speeds, distance traveled, and session time.

Pros

  • Light and durable
  • Everything that you need to forecast your surf (thanks to Surfline’s data)
  • GPS tracking to capture your session

Cons

  • Very simple view on the face of the watch

Buy your Rip Curl Search GPS 2 here

surfline premium

3.   Best for Visuals: Surfline Cam Rewind

How serious are you about tracking your surf? Surfline’s Cam Rewind takes tracking your surf to the next level by capturing your waves on camera. If you surf at one of the international HD surf camera destinations, and you have a Surfline Premium Membership, then you can access the camera rewind function.

On its own, Surfline offers current surf reports and forecasts and has visual access to a global network of surf cameras. The Premium Membership option allows you to rewind the footage so that you can download a session.

Make sure that you wear a waterproof watch so that you can bookmark the time of your most epic waves. Also, take note of your spot on the wave and what you’re wearing. Once you’ve rewound the footage to where you got barreled, you can either download it at the click of a button or share it directly to social media.

Pros

  • Visual reference of yourself on a wave and identify improvement
  • Bragging rights when you share the footage to social media
  • Premium membership offers other perks including exclusive forecast tools and ad-free cams

Cons

  • A watch is needed to tell the time and track the statistics of the wave (speed, distance, number of waves, etc)

4.   Best for Tides: Casio GW-7900-1ER G-Shock Tide Graph Solar

The Casio GW-7900-1ER looks like it’s ready for business! The watch is renowned for its top-quality tide predictions and moon phase data. The Casio GW-7900-1ER G-Shock is great for surfing, and can also be used for freediving, spearfishing, and other water sports.

The face is easy to read, even in low light. As the watch is solar-powered, you don’t need to charge the batteries regularly. Another major perk is that the watch is incredibly durable.

If you’re looking to tell the time and monitor the tides, then this is a great option. However, you won’t be able to track the finer details of your surf session and analyze your session for improvement.

Pros

  • Top-notch moon-phase and tidal predictions for preset areas
  • Solar-powered
  • 200-meter water-resistant

Cons

  • Not a surf performance tracker

Buy your Casio GW-7900-1ER G-Shock Tide Graph Solar here

5.   Most Budget-Friendly: Nixon Base Tide

If you’re strapped for cash or don’t want to invest heavily in a surf watch, you can still enjoy the benefits of knowing the tide and time. The Nixon Base Tide is a budget-friendly surf watch that helps time your surfing to the optimal conditions.

The watch is available in a choice of colors and is durable in design. Slick and lightweight, the Nixon Base Tide features 550 pre-programmed tides and sunrise/sunset locations. The watch is waterproof and easy to read in the water.

Although the watch is basic in design and functionality, it is stylish and has sneaky bonus features, like a stopwatch!

Pros

  • An affordable option for tracking tides and the time
  • Stylish in design
  • Lightweight and durable

Cons

  • Not a surf performance tracker

Buy your Nixon base tide watch here

Any Surf Watches To Add?

We swear by Dawn Patrol and the Apple Watch. Being able to track our sessions, review our waves and get fitness points brings us so much joy. Needless to say, we’ve gone full surfer nerd!

The other watches and apps on this list come highly recommended and are used by surfers around the world. Do you have any surf watches or applications to add to this list? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a message on Instagram!

Surf watches can share insight into the best surf spots at any given time. To play it safe, you can also plan a surfing trip based on the destination’s swell season. Read our month-by-month guide here.

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