Why Surfers Are So Happy? How Surfing Scientifically Makes You Happier

Why surfers are so happy?

What is the secret to surfing’s euphoric experiences? It isn’t only about just being happy.

Positive sentiments may be attributed to a variety of factors, but surfing is a notable contributor – it is nature’s anti-depressant, the sport where people find a sense of belonging, and it (quite literally) gets you high.

Surfers are happy because surfing allows them to indulge in their passions while also providing therapeutic benefits like releasing natural dopamine and negative ions.

Continue reading to understand the reasons why surfing makes people so happy and what science has to say about it.

Released Happy Chemicals In Your Brain

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of catching a wave and riding it all the way to the shore. And it turns out, there is an explanation as to why it makes us so feel so good.

According to research, surfing can actually have some pretty great benefits for your mind and body.

Every accomplishment of catching a new wave is rewarded with a rush of neurochemicals that make you euphoric. And then, your brain releases these “happy” chemicals:


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, often referred to as the happy hormone, and it’s no surprise that it’s also released when you’ve made an accomplishment.

When we experience something new, exciting, or do something that we’re passionate about, our brain releases dopamine as a way of rewarding us, producing feelings of pleasure and euphoria, that eventually encourage us to keep doing the things that make us feel good.

In addition to that, dopamine is also responsible for increased focus, motivation, and productivity.

So, not only does surfing make you feel good emotionally, but it can also help you to be more productive and focused in your everyday life.


Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain and spinal cord often called the body’s natural painkillers.

They are responsible for the pain-relieving effects of exercise – helping to block pain signals from the brain, and also contributing to feelings of euphoria, especially when we experience something exhilarating.

When you’re surfing, you’re constantly putting your body through physical exertion, which in turn causes the release of endorphins.

This is what contributes to the feeling of euphoria that surfers often experience, and it’s also one of the reasons why surfing is so addictive.


Serotonin is another happy hormone and a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate our moods. It’s often referred to as the body’s natural anti-depressant, and it’s thought to be involved in feelings of well-being and happiness.

Like dopamine, serotonin is also released when we do something that we enjoy. Serotonin can boost your mood and combat depression – this is why many people choose surfing to improve their mental health overall.

Is this scientific enough? No? Ok, hear this:

Negative Ions – Mother Nature’s Happiness Ingredient

Ions play an important role in our everyday lives and have a significant impact on our mental health.

According to experts, negative ions are one of the keys to happiness and can have a positive effect on our moods.

What Are Negative Ions Exactly?

An ion is a molecule or atom with an imbalanced charge, with either too many electrons (negative charge) or protons (positive charge).

When there are too many protons in relation to electrons, the ion becomes positively charged. If there are too many electrons compared to protons, then the resulting ion is negatively charged.

Negative ions are particles in the air that have a negative electrical charge. They’re often found near waterfalls, mountains, and beaches – places where people often go to relax and de-stress.

Studies have shown that exposure to negative ions can help to improve our mood, reduce stress levels, and increase our overall sense of well-being!

What Does It Have to Do With Surfing?

When we’re surfing, we’re constantly surrounded by waves and a magical ocean breeze that is full of negative ions.

In fact, the closer you get to the ocean, the higher the concentration of negative ions – specifically when a wave breaks on the shore (or on you!). And these negative ions are responsible for making us feel good.

Negative ions help to improve our moods, give us more energy, and make us feel happier overall.

Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research summarised it well: “Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy” (Source).

Positive Effects of The Ocean On Our Mental Health And Body

It’s not just the smile of riding a wave that makes us happier and more excited, there’s also magical oxygen and atoms around us that makes us feel better around the ocean and surfing waves.

According to research, surfing can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels – being in the ocean and surrounded by nature has a calming effect on the mind.

Also, the physical act of surfing requires you to be present at the moment, which can help to clear your thoughts and ease your worries.

Not only that, surfing can help to improve your sleep quality – which is vital for your ongoing tasks at work or just anything throughout your day.

Getting regular exercise and being outdoors during the day helps to regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle, so you’ll be more likely to get a good night’s rest after a day of riding the waves, while also easing your mind and body.

It’s just like sitting by a waterfall, going for a hike, or riding bicycles. With this kind of activity, you’re basically hitting the reset button – just you and what’s in front of you at the moment.

The view from your surfboard is unique, the sense of clarity and the feeling that you are just a tiny speck on a vast ocean breathing to its own undulating rhythm – that is what makes me happy, and thoughtful, and motivates me to get out of bed for another session when all I actually want is to fall asleep for “just another 5 minutes”.

It’s hard to put your finger on the feeling you get when surfing, but it’s a sensation that only surfers know.

Sense of Community And Belongingness

Surfers are known for being part of a community. Just like any activity or hobby, when you do something regularly, you start to develop relationships with the people who do that same thing with you.

Whether it’s your local surf spot or a group of friends you travel and surf with, there’s a sense of community and belongingness that comes with being a surfer.

Important to note that surfing is still an individual performing sport, but in reality, it’s more fun and relaxing to have a friend near you, catching together wave after wave.

It’s pretty straightforward, well-known enough, and has been proved before – everything together is better, but surfers support and protect each other back.

And this sense of community, that chases the same thing as you can have a positive effect on your mind and overall happiness, which is one of the reasons I love it the most.

Also, being a part of a community and the feeling of belongingness have been linked to increased levels of happiness, life satisfaction, and a sense of well-being.

And it’s not just the act of being around other people that makes us feel good – it’s also the feeling of being part of something larger than ourselves, we feel supported and connected.

And this can help us to weather the storms of life (or those that are in the middle of the ocean) and come out feeling happier on the other side.


No matter what emotions you experience while surfing, remember to take a deep breath the next time you’re in the water.

That air will fill you with positive energy and make you feel truly alive and happy. You found out the real reasons why surfers are so happy most of the time (we’re all human) and I truly believe that implementing those aspects and keeping them in mind, can benefit your day-to-day life and improve your mental health.

Stay on the right side and never let your smile go!