Where to learn to surf

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The best places where new surfers learn to surf

If you’ve reached the point that watching is no longer enough, the time’s come to get off the beach and onto a surfboard. Those folks out there look like they’re having a blast for one simple reason, they are.


Surfing is the perfect combination of getting back to nature, spending quality time catching some rays and getting some pretty good exercise at the same time. Be prepared for a learning curve; the men and women out there shredding it up make it look easier than it is, particularly when you’re first starting out. With that said, choosing the right place to dip your toe in the proverbial surfing water will make a big difference in how quickly you’re up and riding.


Before we talk about where to learn to surf, it may be helpful to share what they all have in common. When you’re just starting out, look for beaches that offer long, slow waves; these are a lot easier to catch and ride. Those big breakers are great for folks that have been surfing a while, but they can beat the stuffing out of a novice.


Also, get yourself hooked up with a longboard wherever you learn to surf. Sure, the locals may giggle a bit, but learning to surf with a short, freestyle board makes an already semi-difficult task that much more trying.


Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Okay, you’ve got your longboard, your nose is sufficiently doused with zinc oxide and you’re mentally prepared for a great day on the water. The first stop on our whirlwind tour of surfing hotspots is none other than Waikiki Beach. Waikiki has it all for the novice surfer: long, slow rolling waves, warm water (you will fall, it’s the law) and great instructors that seem to be positioned about every 12 feet on shore. 

Cowell's Beach, California


On the mainland, Cowell’s Beach in Northern California (NoCal to surfer dudes and chicks) is probably the best the contiguous 48 States have to offer a new surfer. Not only are the waves perfect, but you’ll be among friends. Cowell’s is where to learn to surf, period. This is evidenced by all the long, foam boards littering the waves; and we all know there’s strength in numbers. Wetsuits are needed pretty much year round and aren’t a bad idea anyway; they act as rashguards from all the paddling.

Oh, a surfer sidenote: don’t ever buy a used wetsuit, it’s surfer taboo. Something to do with spending all day on the water without ever needing a restroom break; enough said.


Miami Beach, Florida

Out East, Miami Beach tops the list of the best place to learn to surf. The waves are ideal, and there’s always plenty of room. Take the wrong wave from a veteran surfer, accidentally or not, and they’ll never let you forget it; ever. Miami has nice, warm water pretty much year round too, so you won’t need anything more than a surf vest/rashguard.


With a little patience and knowing where to learn to surf, you’ll be up shredding *gnarly waves with the best of them.


*Yes, that was a random Jeff Spicoli reference of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame.

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