Ride the waves: surfing for beginners
If you love the water and aren’t afraid to go out and splash in the open waves, surfing might be your ideal pastime.
It’s one of the most iconic watersports in the world, and people of all ages are known to grab a board and give it a try on holiday or just in their spare time.
It’s not as easy as it looks – learning to surf with confidence takes practice. The good news is there are certified instructors in every major surfing hotspot around the globe who can help you stay safe and learn to ride the waves – before you know it, you could be out there hanging ten with the best of them.
If you’re serious about surfing the first thing you’ll need is an ocean. People living near the coast of Cornwall or along the water in the Scottish Borders don’t need to travel far, and in fact, there are great places to get started all over the UK – North Devon is a particularly popular spot, and surfers of all ages and abilities flock to Croyde Bay, Saunton Sands and Woolacombe Beach to have a go at this exciting sport. The waves abroad are no less varied; Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, and South Africa are all popular choices.
The International Surfers Association (ISA) is a professional body and governing network of surf instructors around the world. Certified instructors should have expert first aid and lifesaving skills and will have the knowledge and patience to make sure you’re using the right gear and are safe and comfortable while you’re learning.
Many resorts will have a surf school attached where you can sign up for beginner lessons a day or week at a time. Closer to home, famous outfits like the Surfs Up Surf Company and Bournemouth Surf School teach surfing as well as stand up paddle boating to anyone that wants to learn.
Gear you’ll need
When you’re ready to head out surfing there’s some essential gear you’ll need to get started:
- Swimwear – First and foremost you’ll need a swimsuit and towel – this is a sport that requires you spend a lot of time in the water.
- Wet suit – Particularly if you’re going to be surfing in cooler waters, you won’t be able to get in the water without a wetsuit. There are a few different types available and often your surf school will provide you with what you need. However, if you plan to do a lot of surfing in a year, it’s a good idea to invest in your own. A full wetsuit or “steamer” covers your arms and legs completely, while a convertible wetsuit has detachable arms and legs.
- Rash vest – This t-shirt shaped vest goes under a wetsuit and protects your skin from irritation. It will provide an extra thermal layer in cold waters, and in very warm waters is sometimes used in lieu of a wetsuit to protect surfers from the sun.
- Surfboard – A surfboard is an essential piece of kit for the sport. They range in size and price greatly; popular shapes are a Shortboard, Longboard and Fish. Most surf schools will provide a board you can rent for the afternoon while you’re out taking lessons so you can find what type suits you best before you go out and make the investment.
Best places to surf
Part of the reason surfing is such a popular hobby is because of the beautiful locations you can choose from to ride the waves. You can discover the top 10 surf spots in the UK – autumn is the best time to give it a try in this part of the world.
Every corner of the globe has a surfing destination. If you want to travel, you can plan a holiday and visit one of the 50 best surfing destinations in the world. If you’d like to head out surfing for several days or weeks at a time, sign up for a tour like the ones offered by Feral Surf Tours in France, or choose a resort that specializes in surf lessons by browsing some notable destinations on the website Wave Hunters.
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