Surfing: what do surfers look like? | Photo: Shutterstock

Pop culture has long instilled in our minds the picture of the bleach-haired, bronzed-skin surfer dude.

Silly beach bum stereotypes aside, some telltale signs may suggest you're a wave rider. And we're not even going to mention surftalk.

Unlike what surprisingly many people still believe in, not all surfers look the same.

Some are more active and energetic; others are softer and more spiritual, and many just do it for fun in their spare time.

The blonde surfer look was born from the early hardcore surfers who spent their days at the beach, riding wave after wave, getting their physique naturally shaped by the elements.

They all had light, tousled surfer hair, courtesy of the combination of salt and sun, tanned skin from prolonged exposure, and a fitted body chiseled by hours of intense physical activity.

Since not everybody gets to live on top of their surfboards, there isn't a specific aesthetic that makes it obvious that you've embraced surfing for life.

Even professional surfers look pretty standard in their everyday lives.

More than what you wear or look like, there are some small hints and behaviors that may sell you out:

Holidays: a surfer often chooses wave-rich destinations | Photo: Shutterstock

1. The Eyes

The long periods of time spent in the saltwater usually lead to red, slightly irritated eyes. It lasts for a small amount of time, but it's one of the most obvious signs.

It becomes more evident when associated with other hints because this also happens with other water and wave sports.

It's a condition often called surfer's eye or pterygium.

2. The Skin

Although it doesn't necessarily apply to everyone - especially those who surf less or carefully protect their skin with heavy-duty sunscreen - the truth is surfers tend to have more tanned skin than everybody else at the office.

And a surfer's skin shade is more prominent - and enviable - during wintertime.

3. The Smartphone Apps

Right now, you probably have at least two or three surf-related apps on your phone or smartwatch.

The most popular are the weather forecast ones, like Windguru or Windy, and those who track your wave record, like Dawn Patrol.

But you can also find the World Surf League, True Surf, and Stick Surfer apps to follow live surfing contests and ride a few waves on the mobile phone.

4. The Anxiety

Every committed surfer becomes nervous when deprived of contact with the ocean or the great outdoors.

Surfers learn to appreciate the interaction with Mother Nature and usually don't feel very well when confined to closed, artificial spaces for long periods of time.

Think of surfing as their reset/detox moment.

They don't deal well with its absence. Anxiety, impatience, irritability, and daydreaming are some of the most common symptoms.

5. The Holiday Destinations

Oh boy. This is a tricky but very obvious one.

Unfortunately for their loved ones, who enjoy spending their time off in the countryside, the desert, or any other waveless destinations, a good surfer will book their holidays based partially - if not totally - on the quality of the waves they'll find.

Known surfing spots and surf camps leave no room for doubt that you are a surfer - or traveling with one.

Surfers: their smartphone apps speak for themselves | Photo: Shutterstock

6. The Balance

This is probably the most subtable of all, but you may surprise other people with your incredible balance.

This is a skill that every surfer eventually develops. It may show up when practicing other physical activities, such as yoga or skateboarding, for example.

7. The Car

If you drive around looking for waves, your car will reveal it sooner or later.

Some (or lots of) sand on the floor and seats, surfboard car racks, surf gear on the trunk, and a surfboard resting on the seat are some of the most common hints.

Finally, never forget that the classic surfer style requires a pair of up-to-date board shorts and cool sunglasses.

Do you relate to any of these topics? Do you know someone who does? Send us an email and tell us your story. Mahalo!

Words by Ana de Brito Costa

Top Stories

AllWaves is a new wave pool technology from Belgium that allows surfing on an artificial lake, thus bringing surfing experiences closer to enthusiasts and landlocked surfers.

The world's first city center wave pool is ready to welcome surfers. Meet RiF010, the Dutch answer to urban surfing.

Bianca Valenti, Alo Slebir, Wilem Banks, and Jojo Roper were the standout wave riders of the 2024 Mavericks Surf Awards.

The waves at O2 SurfTown MUC are rolling. Europe's largest wave pool opens in Summer 2024 in Munich, Germany.