Here’s a quick guide…
1. Check the swell direction. This indicates where the swell is coming from (a west swell is coming from the west, an east swell is coming from the east, etc.) The best swell for any given surf location varies, but the Perth metro coastline generally works best on west to south-west swell (W-SW).
2. Check the wave height (swell height + period). Waves are measured in feet and measured according to the human body. 1-2 foot waves are referred to as waist high, 2-4 as chest high, 4-6 foot as overhead, 8-10+ as double over head. The swell period refers to the time it takes for successive waves to pass the same point in seconds. Generally, the bigger the swell period, the bigger the waves. Ideal conditions for beginners surfing on the metro coastline would be around 2-4 foot range with a 14 second period.
3. What’s the wind doing? This is important because wind is a primary factor in determining wave quality. In simple terms, offshore, light or no wind = good (creating smooth waves), and onshore wind = bad (creating choppy waves). Remember in Summer in Perth you can almost guarantee a sea breeze to kick in before lunch time. Always remember the early bird gets the worm.
4. Lastly, look at the tides. Tides change the depth of the water, which either hides or exposes the rocks, beach or points, on which waves break. Some surf spots work better at high tide, some at mid, and some at low. You can surf at most tides along the metro coastline, but experts will tell you it works best on a mid to low tide.
Click here to test your skills: http://www.coastalwatch.com/surf-forecasts/wa/perth