It’s time to follow your lifelong dream of becoming a surfer! Welcome to the first day of your pro surf career.
We’ve seen thousands of different people come through Surfivor Surf Camp following this very dream. Based on our experience with all those lovely surfers to be, here are our 9 Top Tips on How To Get Into Surfing.
1. Book a Surf Camp Package
You’re thinking, well you would say that. But the truth is Surf Camps and Surf Holidays are a very popular holiday for all ages. They especially are a great way to get into surfing at a later age. Surf Camps are also an amazing way to meet people. Surf Camp friends often become friends, or lovers, for life.
At a Surf Camp you can expect to learn surfing techniques that are appropriate for your level (beginner, intermediate, advanced). You will also learn about surfing conditions such as tides, swell, wave period, wind, and how waves are formed. You will learn about surfing etiquette and rules in the water, as well as about safety and hazards. Your coaches can also teach you about surfboards and wetsuits, and advise on what goals you should have for the future.
There are Surf Camps all around the world. If you have the time, you can combine a Surf Camp with another activity like a music festival or a city break. Choose your Surf Camp based on somewhere you’d like to visit, or ask a Surf Camp you’re interested in when the best local events are happening.
If possible, it is best to go for as long as possible. One week is good, but two weeks are much better. This gives you more time to experience different weather and ocean conditions. It also gives you the freedom to take at least one ‘rest day’ which, is a very important part of the learning process. Your muscles need time to heal and your body needs to renew your energy. Many Surf Camps offer discounts on your second, third, fourth etc weeks stay.
2. Join a Surf Club
If you live in a big city, it is likely that your city has at least one Surf Club. You can join your Surf Club for a small fee and invitation to regular (usually monthly) meetings. Here you can meet with other people trying to get into surfing. You can ask questions about equipment, get advice on your surfing, or plan trips with other surfers in your city.
Your Surf Club surf trips may be within driving distance, where someone with a car shares the cost of fuel with everyone. This is a great way to learn about surf spots nearby. Or your surf trips may be to other far flung destinations. Planning trips abroad in groups is a good idea because many Surf Camps offer Group Discounts for larger numbers of people (10 people or more).
3. Work for a Surf Camp
If you want to really get into surfing then perhaps a few weeks or a few short trips is not enough for you. Why not go work at a surf camp or surf hostel? The most common jobs available apart from Surf Coaches are for Receptionists, Cleaners, Photographers, Chefs/Cooks and Yoga Instructors.
Many surf camps offer jobs from one or two months, to an entire season. Some are paid and some are on a volunteer basis. Either way, you typically should expect to work in exchange for accommodation, access to surf equipment, and maybe some food or other living necessities. If you are considering a volunteer position, make sure you do as much research as possible about the camp. If possible, speak to someone who has worked their before to learn about their experience. There are many opportunities to volunteer at Surf Camps on Workaway.com.
4. Buy a Van and Hit the Road
Buying a van is a big investment but one of the most amazing ways to travel. Everyone’s vehicle and van layout choices will be different. But what should you consider, surf wise, when buying a van?
Boards take up a lot of space, so if you are planning to travel with your board (and wetsuit) you will want to carefully consider where this will go in the van. The most popular options are attached to the top or sides, hung on the ceiling or wall over the bed, or under the bed. If you keep it outside you have to consider security issues. And if it goes over your bed you may have an issue with sand making a mess. As such, our top option is under the bed although then you lose precious storage space.
If you aren’t planning to buy a board then you will want to plan your campsites around places where you can rent boards. It’s a good idea to invest in a Stormriders Guide for the area you are planning to travel.
Living on the road can be a great way to meet people, especially if you are particularly outgoing and friendly. Van people often park all together in the same car park. And if you’re near the sea, you’re likely to see your neighbors out in the waves as well.
5. Buy your own Wetsuit and Surfboard
If you’ve already taken a few lessons and decided that you definitely want to get into surfing, it is time to buy your own equipment. Definitely buy a wetsuit before you buy a board. We don’t recommend buying your wetsuit online if you haven’t tried it on. It’s really important to get a good fit for your body. Especially if this is your first wetsuit, it’s a good idea to take some time to get it right. A poorly fitted wetsuit can rub and cause rash, or get holes, or stretch to be ineffective.
The people working in surf shops should be able to help you select and advise on the fit. Different wetsuit brands work better for different people. One hot tip for you smaller girls and guys: you can fit into kids wetsuits. Kids wetsuits are usually just as good for almost half the price. And you can spend the money you saved on your surfboard.
The best advice you can get on buying a board will come from more experienced surfers who have seen you surfing. Different surfers will have different advice based on their own style and preferences, so it’s a good idea to talk to a few people. The kind of board you should get also depends very much on your size and the type of waves you like. But no matter what type of board you choose, our advice is to save your pennies on your first board. If you aren’t sure what you want, buy second hand and keep your money for flights and accommodation, or surf courses.
6. Watch Surf Films
Watching surf films is a great way to stoke your fire before getting on a plane or hitting the road. Or while waiting patiently for your first, or next, surf adventure. A few of our recommendations for surf feature films are:
- The Endless Summer and The Endless Summer II
- Big Wednesday
- Blue Crush (more for the ladies)
- Chasing Mavericks
- Surfwise (more about an alternative surfers lifestyle)
- Riding Giants
- Castles in the Sky
- Bustin’ Down The Door
There are also endless surf edits on YouTube and Facebook. Follow a few of the big name surfing publications on your Facebook, Instagram or other social media of choice to get a steady stream of waves from around the world coming to you daily. You can also follow the WSL to see videos and watch global surf competitions live.
7. Paddle out in (almost) Anything
The best way to get good at surfing is to spend as many hours in the ocean as possible. The little rippers, the ‘groms’, the kids who get ridiculously good at surfing at an early age, do so by paddling out in anything from half meter onshore slop to 3 meters and terrifying. Ok, maybe 3 meters is going too far. But if you want to get into surfing, surf as much as you can.
If possible, having some coaching or at least some specific goals to work on while you are out will make your time spent more worthwhile. This is why a surf club or surf camp is a good option for those looking to get into surfing. Because surfing with other people who can give you advice will help you progress faster than trying to figure it out alone.
8. Stay Fit out of the Water
A good level of fitness will enable you to get into surfing much faster. Some of the best activities you can try for surf fitness for beginner and intermediate surfers are Yoga, Pilates, Swimming and Cross Fit or Strength Training.
Yoga improves both flexibility and strength, as well as incorporates mindfulness training that can be incredibly helpful in managing fear in the water. If you haven’t tried it before, or don’t practice often, it is a good idea to join a Yoga Class as opposed to practicing alone using videos. This is because your yoga instructor will often correct your postures and alignment during a class.
Pilates helps with mobility and core strength. Good core strength with improve your pop up speed, stability and board control. Pilates is also good for flexibility. If you prefer to a more intense work out, Pilates is probably a better option than Yoga.
Swimming is incredible for your shoulders, chest and back strength. If you have access to a pool and enjoy swimming, do as much as you can to strengthen your shoulders for paddling.
Cross Fit and Strength Training are the best ways to improve your explosive power. Explosive power and endurance is important because surfing is typically very physically demanding from the moment you enter the water. It’s easy to get tired out just trying to get into the right position. If you are training for high energy and intensity fitness, you will be able to surf for longer.
9. Date a Surfer or Make Some Surf Friends
There are big pros and cons to dating another surfer. The pros are that you can plan holidays together and enjoy developing your skills as a couple. The cons are that if either of you are at all competitive, you will argue. Surfing is a very frustrating sport, especially when you are first getting started. And if you are a couple who can tend to take frustrations out on each other, be prepared. But we think that in general the pros outweigh the cons, and love seeing surf camp romances blossoming on the beach.
Surf friends really are friends for life. We’ve already included lots of examples on how to make new surf friends: visit a Surf Camp, join a Surf Club, Work at a Surf Camp or Buy a Van. Having a network of people to paddle out with, plan trips with, get advice from is what it’s all about. Share your surf dreams.