Very few sports can match surfing for sheer coolness. Armed with just a surfboard and some cooperative tides, a surfer can glide effortlessly from sea to shore, borne by the ocean itself. However, surfing is more difficult than it seems; any vacationer who has idly decided to give surfing a try will soon discover that it takes real effort and practice. However, by choosing the right destination and following a few important tips, anyone can soon learn to catch a wave.
When describing good places for beginners to get started, travel writers often use words like “gentle” or “forgiving” to describe the waves. While this kind of language can seem condescending, these smaller, less powerful waves are what you want when you’re learning to surf. Consider popular destinations in Southern California, like Malibu, Santa Monica, San Diego, or Orange County, where the waves are generally manageable and unlikely to buck a newbie. In Hawaii, Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu features gently rolling waves that have made the spot a favorite for beginners. The popular beach is also home to many surf schools.
Outside of the U.S., Australia is rightfully famous for its surf culture and laid-back, picturesque beach towns. Beginners should try Byron Bay in New South Wales; in addition to its fame as a surfing destination, the area is also popular with whale watchers and scuba divers. Further south in Sydney, Bondi Beach is one of the country’s most famous beaches. For beginners, it offers officially licensed surf schools with teachers who can help you perfect your skills.
In terms of gear, it’s essential to be prepared for the elements. Failing to wear sunscreen, rash guards, or, in colder waters, a wetsuit, will affect how long you’re able to stay out in the water. Finally, be prepared for some setbacks. While you may get lucky and find out you’re a surfing prodigy, odds are good that the road to mastering surfing will be bumpy. Keep getting back up when you fall, and over time, you’ll be riding the waves like a pro.