Updated: Aug 10, 2021
The rising of the sea is known as a flooding tide (tide coming in). High tide is when the tide is fully in. A flooding tide can cut you off, especially if there are cliffs, headlands, rocky outcrops or sandbanks, it can also knock you off your feet. A flooding tide or high tide can cover up potential hazards that are usually visible at low tide. Changes in the flow of water can cause rip currents to happen.
The falling of the sea is known as an ebbing tide (tide going out). When the tide if fully out, this is known as low tide. Ebbing tides will reveal potential hazards such as rocks, sandbars, seaweed etc. Again, the change in flow of the water can cause rip currents to happen.
Spring tides (full moon, new moon):
On spring tides, high tides are higher and low tides are lower. In other words, spring tides are the biggest difference in water heights and have stronger currents. They occur every two weeks.
Neap tide (first and third quarter moon):
On neap tides, high tides are lower and low tides are higher than they are on a spring, meaning less water moving. Occurring every two weeks.
The actual heights and intervals of tides vary depending on location. Some locations have two high tides and two low tides, or mixed tides (where two tides meet from different directions) – This is why it is important to know the tides of the area you are going to, having this information will aid you in making a more informed choice for a swimming spot!
The hour before and after a high or low tide is known as ‘slack’ tide, this generally means there is less water moving and weaker currents, however in some locations rip currents will be at their strongest. Swimming will usually be easier on a ‘slack’ tide (but not always). An ebbing tide will make it harder to swim back to shore. The middle two hours of an ebbing or flooding tide is when the most water moves, meaning stronger currents.