The best inspirational quotes are the ones about surfing. The wisdom encapsulated in a single sentence, spoken by a person with a lifetime of unique experiences, has the power to influence others and transform lives.

The following selection of surfing quotes are by legends the likes of Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, and Shaun Tomson. They give insights not only into the minds of our heroes, but also into the world in which we live. Learn about reading the ocean, about tenacity, simplicity, passion and faith.

Kelly Slater on reading the ocean

“Your surfing can get better on every turn, on every wave you catch. Learn to read the ocean better. A big part of my success has been wave knowledge.”
~ Kelly Slater

Gerry Lopez on tenacity

“Well, in regards to surfing, I’ve learned that there is always another wave coming. Translated that means there is always tomorrow. No matter how badly you get caught inside, if you can just hang in there and keep paddling, the set is going to pass and there will be a lull afterwards. So don’t give up, just take your pounding, wait until the set passes, then make your move.”
~ Gerry Lopez

Jack O’Neill’s quote about how creativity stems from a need

“I’m just a surfer who wanted to build something that would allow me to surf longer.”
~ Jack O’Neill

Naima Green on the simplicity of surfing

“One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surfboard, and a wave.”
~ Naima Green

Master surf historian, Matt Warshaw, on the surfing lifestyle

“Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.”
~ Matt Warshaw

The greatest surfer of all time on the environment

“I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.”
~ Kelly Slater

Bethany Hamilton on living her passion

“Surfing for me is more than my lifestyle; it’s my passion, my love, and it’s a part of me.”
~ Bethany Hamilton

Rell Sunn on the gift of self-esteem

“Surfing frees everything up, it’s just the best soul fix. Life should be stress-free, and that’s what surfing is all about. It’s something you do in your sleep, with your eyes closed; it’s something you’ll constantly embrace and be passionate about, and whatever it takes, you’re gonna do it, because nothing else in the world can give you that kind of self-esteem.”
~ Rell Sunn

Otis Chandler on expression and diversity

“Surfing is an individual expression of one’s own worth and one’s own ability to participate directly with nature. And what makes it really enjoyable to me is that every wave is different… there’s a special, non-repetitive pleasure in it that never gets boring.”
~ Otis Chandler

World champ, Shaun Tomson, on faith

“Surfing is all about uncertainty. That feeling of taking a risk, that leap of faith every time I jump into the ocean, that paddle out among things unseen — all of these make surfing very special.”
~ Shaun Tomson

Antony Garrett Lisi on fun

“Surfing is simply the most fun I know how to have on this planet.”
~ Antony Garrett Lisi

“Doc” Paskowitz on realizations

“Some of the most profound realizations that I came to about health did not derive from medicine, but derived from surfing.”
~ Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz

Tristan Prettyman on celebration

“Where I grew up, surfing was a way for people to celebrate their love and respect for the ocean.”
~ Tristan Prettyman

A timeless surf quote by Phil Edwards

“The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun.”
~ Phil Edwards

Captain Cook’s quote after witnessing surfing for the first time

“I Could Not Help Concluding This Man Had The Most Supreme Pleasure While He Was Driven So Fast And So Smoothly By The Sea.“
~ Captain James Cook

Paul Walker on surfing’s spiritual side

“Surfing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m on a wave.”
~ Paul Walker

Buzzy Trent on fear

“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.”
~ Buzzy Trent

One of our favourite surfers, Clay Marzo, on barrels

“If there was no such thing as barrels I probably wouldn’t even surf.”
~ Clay Marzo

Joel Parkinson on life beyond surfing

“It’s funny, ’cause you think surfing is your whole life, but then when you make a family it seems like it’s not at all.”
~ Joel Parkinson

John McCarthy’s quote about the surfing experience

“Surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.”
~ John McCarthy

Legendary musician, Xavier Rudd, on connection with the universe

“For me, surfing is as close a connection I can have with Mother Nature. To surf, you’re riding a pulse of energy from Mother Nature. And it’s strong. It’s real. It’s there. And you’re dancing with that. You’re connecting with that. You’re might be the only person in the history of the universe that connects with that particular pulse of energy.”
~ Xavier Rudd

Sam Bleakley on the unpredictability of surfing

“This is the kind of challenge that the wild, unfurling ocean presents to surfers: the music it makes is often impossible to follow, but surfing is about improvising in brilliant ways that utilize the sea’s surprises.”
~ Sam Bleakley

Steph Gilmore on her love of surfing

“What I love the most about surfing is that it’s my first love. It’s the first thing I can remember being consumed by.”
~ Stephanie Gilmore

Bill Hamilton on shifting mindsets

“Sliding a wave removes our brains out of the ordinary and slips us into the extra ordinary of being there now. No more worries about mortgages or strife of being poor or rich. When you enter the domain of an ocean cylinder, that moment, those split seconds belong to the Zen part of just being. Period.”
~ Bill Hamilton

William Finnegan on friendship

“Surfing is a secret garden, not easily entered. My memory of learning a spot, of coming to know and understand a wave, is usually inseparable from the friend with whom I tried to climb its walls.”
~ William Finnegan

Laird Hamilton on respect

“If you don’t understand the wave, you can’t respect it. And if you don’t have respect, it’s only a matter of time before the ocean teaches you to get some.”
~ Laird Hamilton

Fred Wardy on escapism

“Surfing is a release from exploding tensions of 20th-century living, escaping from the hustling, bustling city world of steel and concrete, a return to nature’s reality.”
~ Fred Wardy

Kary Mullis on how surfing changes your attitude toward the world

“Sometimes in the morning, when it’s a good surf, I go out there, and I don’t feel like it’s a bad world.”
~ Kary Mullis

Jolene Blalock on the might of nature

“Surfing is such an amazing concept. You’re taking on Nature with a little stick and saying, ‘I’m gonna ride you!’ And a lot of times Nature says, ‘No you’re not!’ and crashes you to the bottom.”
~ Jolene Blalock


Check out our other articles for more quotes about surfing and insights about the ocean by Alan Watts.