Let’s Learn About The Five Oceans Of The World

Last updated on: July 14, 2023

As surfers, our world is all about the ocean. It all seems as one, though. Unless we’re frequently traveling, the ocean is usually the wave closest to our house. Otherwise, it might be the waves up and down the coast.

The ocean comprises over 70% of the Earth’s surface, so it is divided into quadrants or oceans. Oceans are in control of the Earth’s climate and temperature. They equalize global heat and are vital for the creation of rainfall.

How many oceans are there in the world?

There are five oceans in the world counting: the Indian-, the Arctic-, the Atlantic-, the Pacific-, and the Southern Ocean.

Some areas, like Cape Town in South Africa, are surrounded by two oceans, with a cold side (the Atlantic Ocean) and the warm side (the Indian Ocean) meeting at the southern tip. It was often believed that there was a line where the two oceans met, but this is a myth, as the coalescence is a vast area. There is nothing to delineate the mixing of the waters.

The Indian Ocean indicates calmer, placid waters and warmer temperatures in Cape Town. At the same time, the Atlantic is a precursor to the Cape Of Storms. This is more about geography than ocean characteristics, so let’s dive in.

1. The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean occupies roughly 20% of the global sea area and is the third largest ocean on earth.

It is located in the Southern Hemisphere, with a small area located north of the equator. Forming a border with India in the North, East Africa, Australia, and the Southern Ocean. It has limited marine life as the water is much warmer than other ocean masses. The Indian Ocean comes in at about 6,400 kilometers wide at the equator.

2. The Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest ocean on the planet.

It is surrounded by Asia, Europe, Greenland, and North America. Due to its location, it is frozen during winter and only partially melts in summer. As a result, it has a mix of fresh water from the large Siberian rivers and warm salt water from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. However, the icebergs that break away from Greenland represent only two percent of the water that comes from the Arctic Ocean.

3. The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is massive. It is the largest ocean, covering over 30% of the globe.

This represents close to half of the water on our planet. It brushes the west coast border of the Americas along with east Asia and Australia.

‘Pacific’ means peaceful in character or intent. This is doubtful, as it is home to waves like Cortes Bank, arguably one of the biggest and scariest waves on the planet.

4. The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean gets divided  into north- and south Atlantic by equator.

The area next to the north of the equator, which lies between South America and Africa, is Central Atlantic.

The Atlantic Ocean is host to many aquatic species, including the sperm whale, which is recorded as the third whale on the planet, behind the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale.

The Atlantic Ocean is also the saltiest of all the oceans as a result of sea ice melting.

5. The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean circles Antarctica and it connects the Indian-, Atlantic-, and Pacific oceans.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the most substantial ocean current in the world and flows toward the east.

There have been a few serious surf expeditions to the Southern Ocean. Still, the surf is sporadic and a cold and frozen location.

Southern Ocean swells reach Western Australia’s south coast and Tasmania. Still, the actual locations/landmass do not form part of the Southern Ocean configuration.

The Largest Ocean In The World:

The Pacific Ocean covers close to a third of the global surface. So a pacific crossing is daunting for anyone.

The Smallest Ocean In The World:

As mentioned, the Arctic Ocean is the smallest, the shallowest, and the coldest. It is also the least salty due to immense runoff from freshwater ice floes.

The Five Oceans of the world For Surfers

Each ocean provides different conditions and swells for surfers.

So let’s explain what makes each of the five oceans unique and highlight a few of the best waves around the world.

1. The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is home to JBay and Garajagan or G-Land.

These two waves are arguably two of the best waves in the world, with JBay being one of the best right-hand point breaks and G-Land one of the best left-hand reef breaks.

JBay comes to life during the colder southern hemisphere winters, and G-Land’s prerequisite is the offshore Trade Winds. 

Filipe Toledo at J-Bay

2. The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean’s most well-known waves are probably Teahuupo’o in Tahiti and Cloudbreak in Fiji.

Despite Pacific meaning peaceful, these two waves are possibly two of the most ferocious surfing waves on the planet. They are reserved for the best surfers out there.

While Cloudbreak is fun when small, the Pacific Ocean has been known to throw 20-foot surf into the mix, quickly dissipating the fun factor.  

Surfing in Tahiti

3. The Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is not one of the prime surfing destinations in the world, but it does produce some world-class waves in certain conditions.

Norway, home to the Aurora Borealis or northern lights, has some great waves on the Lofoten Islands, with the most well-known spots in and around Unstad.

The original Surfer magazine labeled this area Valhalla. Still, it is relatively fickle, and usually, the good waves come with icy conditions. There is a very picturesque right-hand point and a funneling left-hand reef, both loads of fun to surf.

Surfing in Unstad Norway

4. The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean has so many waves, but one of the most well-known has to be Donkey Bay in Namibia.

Donkey Bay has had arguably more media coverage and exposure than most waves on the planet. It is possibly the longest and most perfect sand-bottom barrel in the world. Still, the remoteness of the location and harshness of the wave keeps the line-up manageable. It is definitely a wave that can handle a crowd with ease. 

5. The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean has no perfect waves, and most exploratory trips there have seen novelty waves surfed off Antarctica. Dry suits (8mm) are necessary, and a sense of adventure is essential.

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