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Surf Apps: Magic Seaweed - The "other" surf forecast

October 31, 2013

I’ve been a casual user of both Surfline and Magic Seaweed for years and my opinion of both mobile apps has shifted over time. It used to be that Surfline was the law of the land in surf forecasting. If the cams or reports weren’t looking so hot, the evidence was right in front of you, and it’s live, why waste the gas?

Conditions can shift all over the place throughout the course of a day, that’s why. There are countless factors that go into the way a wave breaks.

Long story short. If the weekly report is seemingly half decent and my local lagoons seem to settle into sheet glass on the drive home from work, I don’t need a report to tell me the wind just died down AND switched directions. I’m going to take the weekly forecast trend and my gut instinct, and I’m going to go chance it. We love you Surfline and Magic Seaweed, but we don’t need all the bells and whistles to maintain our surfer lifestyles…. but… you have to admit… the convenience is cozy.

However, I’m not here to knock either surf forecasting website. I’m here to review the one that I favor and explain why it’s my pick.

Enter Magic Seaweed…

After signing up, I quickly added my 6 favorite surf regions in Southern California. On the main screen, I get a 7 day simple forecast that I can scroll across to check the other favorites I’ve added. Below this ticker, I can read all the current featured articles, videos and images.

With one tap of the screen I have a ticker at the top of my screen that lists my region’s average wave height; wave quality rating; swell size, direction and period; and wind speed and direction. One more screen tap gives me the same information spread out over 8 times around a 24 hour period.

Below that, I have first light, last light, sunrise and sunset. Next to that I have a tide graph with the highs and lows listed by time and height.

If I backtrack to the current conditions of my region, options below allow me to check a 10-day long-range, in-depth forecast. I can also set a wave height handicap. If I want height in Hawaiian, I can do that. If I want height in Huntington, I can have it read double…. JK, no really it lets you do that.

Still just 1 tap away from the main page, I can look at swell charts for 8 days and tide charts for 10 days. I can order the Stormrider guide add-on if I go on a surf trip and need a better understanding of a wave’s behavioral trends. I can check out photos of the region, find nearby food, drink, surf schools, shops and accommodations.

I can even check live buoy and wind readings. All still, a tap or 2 from the main screen. The app layout really shines in this manner. It’s a breeze to navigate.

Where Surfline wins in extensive wave listings, accuracy and human-typed reports, Magic Seaweed comes out on top with a superb layout and immaculate navigation. At any given point, I’m one or two taps away from my main screen. To add, I don’t have to buy a subscription to have an idea of the conditions beyond the day after tomorrow. Further, I’m a visual person, especially if those visuals are describing the conditions 8 times a day! Do I need all the bells and whistles of either app? No, but if I do need it, I’m clicking my MSW icon first.

What are your thoughts on the Magic Seaweed app… or just surf forecasting in general?

Lastly, and most important, there’s no cam or specific report for my favorite wave, it’s just a regional report for that 5 mile span… Magic Seaweed kept my wave a secret, and that’s another reason they get my nod!

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