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How to surf? - 3 Tips for Surf Beginners

September 24, 2023

Ready to catch some waves but not sure where to start? In December 2021, I spontaneously enrolled in a surf school, and here are my top 3 takeaways from the experience!

3 Things I Wish I Had Known Before the Surf Camp

“Go ahead and take the bus, I’ll catch the next wave.”

Waves and a lonesome Surfboard beaing tossed by the waves

That’s more or less the plan that separated us for a week. While Georg and Momo continued their adventures in Spain, I, Jo, decided to set a big goal for myself this year: learning to surf! I found a spot on the southern Spanish Atlantic coast and opted for a week-long yoga-surf program. During this journey, three important things stood out to me that I wish I had known beforehand.

Surfing isn’t always possible

(maybe you already know, but I didn’t). I thought that if I had access to a surfboard all day, I would definitely be using it the entire time. However, that was a misconception! Tides, winds from different directions, and their strength significantly affect surfing. Too much wind is actually counterproductive! The first thing I had to learn was that surfing is a morning activity. As the day progresses, the wind steadily increases because the land heats up more than the sea. This changes the waves, making them more unpredictable, steeper, or deformed. Of course, this varies depending on the location, continent, and season. But here in Spain, you can generally assume that the best time to surf is in the morning. Additionally, surfing is quite physically demanding. After three hours on the board, you’ll be exhausted and grateful not to have to get back on the board after lunch.

Jo carrying the surfboard into the sea, with waves in the backround

Jo standing on the beach with the surfboard infront of her in the sand

Surfing and Yoga

There’s no doubt that surfing and yoga complement each other well. Even the sun salutation contains essential elements that can be helpful when standing up on a surfboard. However, what I didn’t know (see point 1) is that it’s best to surf in the morning. But if your day already starts with morning yoga at 8 AM, and you also want to have breakfast, you might not hit the water until around 10:30 AM. That’s quite a tight schedule. So here’s a tip: Yoga is a great addition, but it’s better as a cooldown in the evening. Try to incorporate yoga flexibly or inquire at the surf camp about the yoga-surf schedule so you can assess how well yoga supports you. Also, consider your own energy levels. If you’re already tired after an hour and a half of morning yoga, don’t expect your body to be eager to get on a surfboard. A long sandy beach with two Surfboards

Surf Camp, Is It Necessary?

It might sound like you can simply rent (or even buy) a board, paddle in the sea in the morning, and join a yoga class in the evening.

Jos Breakfast during Surfschool. Coffee, orangejuce and cereals

Well, you can certainly do that, as no one dictates how you should spend your vacation. However, a surf instructor doesn’t just teach you how to get on the board. Besides imparting surf etiquette (yes, it exists ;-)), they also teach you the fundamentals of wave mechanics, upon which everything is built. Moreover, they provide motivation, which, in my opinion, is crucial. I admire people who can self-teach themselves things because it requires a lot of discipline and perseverance. Georg is one of those types.

Georg on his way to catch the next wave

Georg bsurfing in whitewater

His advantage in surfing is that he can skate and snowboard, and even though the movements aren’t exactly the same as surfing, I think it helps to know how a board behaves. I’m a more cautious person, and it took me some time to gather the courage to throw my leg forward onto the board and risk falling off in the process. In short, I needed some external motivation when it came to surfing because you often fall into the water before managing to stand up for the first time. That’s why I highly recommend a good surf instructor to every beginner, especially if you’re a bit more cautious like me.

And here’s a bonus tip: If you plan to learn how to surf, just go for it! Don’t wait for it to happen someday; set your goal and start right away!


Questions, Remarks or just Greetings?