A big part of having fun on an alaia is picking the right wave to ride it on. Although for your first time or two (whether it’s in mush or good stuff) just getting up might be enough to keep you stoked, that usually lasts only so long.

If you look on most of the videos or pictures of people riding alaias you’ll notice that the ones which look inviting are all on nice waves. Tom Wegener for example, the modern father of alaia surfing, rides his boards at his home break Noosa Head, Australia. This wave is about as perfect as you can get for alaias and that’s a big part of why they have so much fun on it. Google Noosa Head and just see what pics turn up.

This shouldn’t discourage you becauase in reality very few of us have a Noosa Head type wave to ride our alaias. If you do, congratulations and make room on your couch because I’m coming over! No, I’m not saying you need a perfect, down the line, bowly little wave to have fun but that’s a down the line, bowly little wave is a good example of what you should look for.

Look for a wave with some power. You’ll need it to help catch waves. Though it can make your take off more complicated, especially considering you don’t have any rocker in the nose, something kinda bowly is always fun. Also, the longer the wave runs the better because though you’ll learn better control with time, in the begenning you’ll probably just pick a line and glide along. Size wise, I like a wave in the waist to chest range. It’s usually got enough power to push you into the wave and along pretty quickly once your up and riding but not so much as to overpower you. The last thing to consider is the crowd. Understand that catching waves with an alaia puts you somewhere near the bottom of the pecking order. Everyone else out there can paddle faster and sit farther out than you. It’s almost impossible to find a wave like I’ve described without a good crowd but consider how many people are out there too before you race into the waves.

This may all change once you’ve learned to ride your alaia and got a feel for your own preferences. However, until then, this should be a good guide to get you started. Have fun.


Papa Kai


How to Surf an Alaia: Wave Selection

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