Multiple linear regression (MLR) and artificial neural network (ANN) models are used in the present work to describe the significant wave height off Goa, located in the west Indian coast. A comparison study was carried out with the purpose of verifying when the artificial neural network and multiple linear regression models are appropriate for prediction of the significant wave height. Discussions of advantages and disadvantages are given in different point of view for both the methods. Several meteorological factors are used during the analysis and the ones affecting more to the model are kept. We concluded that non-linear models with wind speed and wind gust at a previous time step and air pressure, water temperature and air temperature at the same time step yield to better significant wave height models. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.