Surfing beginner's guide

Surfing in Raglan, New Zealand | Photo: Marko Magister

Surfing in Raglan, New Zealand | Photo: Marko Magister

As one of the most popular board sports ever invented, surfing provides a breath-taking experience. Riding a wave gives riders an amazing feeling of vibrance! Bellow you will find a tips on how to start and learn surfing!

  • Why do it? Riding a wave will give you an incredible feeling of being alive!

  • How to start? Take a lesson at a surfing school where instructors will give you the principles. It's best to start with small waves and a big board. Take baby steps!

  • Taking a lesson: highly recommended

  • Taking a surf camp: recommended . On average, it takes a person one surfing lesson to stand up on a wave, a whole month to be able to read the ocean and its conditions and over a year to know surfing fully, as a sport. On a first day’s lesson you’ll learn how to paddle, catch a wave and pop up. On a one week course you’ll get to know better aspects of different boards, wetsuits and use of waxes. You will usually learn how to workout to prepare yourself for surfing and how to eat well as a surfer.

  • Physical Intensity: demanding

  • Risk level: Medium (always recommended to go surfing with a ‘buddy’)

  • Do I need a certification? No

  • What to buy? Nothing. In the start you can rent everything! Once you get hooked, you can think of getting at least your own wetsuit.

Check our recommendation for the 20 best places for surfing in the world

Surf camp.jpg

“Its like the mafia. Once you’re in - you’re in. There’s no getting out”

Kelly Slater - American Professional Surfer, 11 times World Surf League Champion.

Surfing checklist

Renting a surfboard?

Check for places on where to rent surfboards. We recommend renting before buying one, as you need to find your style and get confortable with many sizes before getting your own. Daily rentals go from 15 to 45 EUR depending on the spot. Ask for gear insurance or understand the renting conditions before renting.

Do I need a wetsuit?

Check the water temperature where you intend to go surfing! This will help you know the wetsuit you need for the occasion. A wetsuit is a neoprene insulation suit made for warmth and protection in water sports. According to the temperature, different thickness of wetsuits are recommended.

15Cº - 18Cº (3-4mm)

12Cº - 15Cº (3-4mm + booties)

9Cº - 12 Cº (4-5mm + booties + gloves)

< 9 Cº (4-6 mm + booties, gloves and a hood)

Type of surfboards

  • Renting a long surfboard (8 - 12 feet) "longboard" is highly recommended at first (preferably a soft top). Traditional longboards are easier to ride, catch a wave, keep balance and definitely build to last. Fun to use on smaller waves or “ankle biters”, for walking up and down, cross stepping or nose riding. Once you get comfortable on those, you can consider buying one, maybe even go a size smaller!

  • Smaller boards (6 - 10 feet and smaller) allow you to get more creative when it comes to carving, turning and tricks. Sharp noses and thin rails allow you to surf the more critical part of the wave. A first surfboard should be a basic model, easy to handle.

  • Funboards range from 6 - 8 feet, known for their smaller size with lots of volume, making it easy to catch a wave. Perfect for beginners.

Surfing tips:

Be realistic about what waves you can ride and which not. Do not go in the water unprepared!

Surfing takes time, patience and basic physical coordination to learn how to do it.

It is very helpful to know when the low and high tides occur because it makes it easier to plan on when to go in the water. Some spots are best when the tide is full on high or low (depending on the spot). Too high of a tide for most spots will make waves too fat and slow, breaking more among themselves rather than top to bottom.

Even though surfing is an individual sport, a community of people sharing the waves is big. It is important to be respectful in the water and obey the rule of first comes first serves. The best way to get in, is waiting for your turn in the line-up and balancing friendliness and responsibility.

Check the waves! Magicseaweed or Surfline

Surfing in Piha - New Zealand

Surfing in Piha - New Zealand

Staying in shape for surfing

Surfing is a full-body sport, it takes strong arms for paddling, core strength for popping up and good glutes to make the turns!

Sit ups, push ups and squats will help you tone these areas. As well as doing yoga on a daily basis. Don't forget about breathing! Filling your body with oxygen during the whole surfing session is of utmost importance.

Great balance is important as well! Walking the plank or practising on a slack-line can be a very useful practise!

Surfing to me is like playing music. You play different melodies with different boards.
— Skip Frye - American surfer, surfboard designer and shaper, environmental activist and legend.

"Memories of a Surfing Day" by french surfer and film maker Quentin Chaumy. @quentinchaumy