Everything About Learning to Surf
Learn to Surf Tips for Beginners

A quick guide on how to ride a wave for newcomers to the sport/lifestyle/obsession of surfing

We have put together all our knowledge of surfing to help people learning to surf. The following pages have beginner surfer tips and advice on how to surf. We have also included a section for people who are looking for tips on how to do turns and maneuvers.

This is the most make-sense and easy to follow learn to surf tips you will find on the net. Follow the steps here and you will improve your surfing in no time

Surfing Lombok

5 Key Tips For Learning To Surf

  1. Get lessons from an experienced surf instructor, not just someone who will push you into waves, a good surf instructor will takes months off the learning process
  2. Learn to surf on the right surfboard
  3. Find the right spot for learning, always surf where it suits your ability
  4. Learn the rules and etiquette of surfing
  5. Practice, practice, practice

On the following pages are the answers to these and many more questions.....So let's go!

Learn to Surf Instructions

'It's like the mafia. Once you're in- you're in. There's no getting out.' - Kelly Slater

Surfing like many action sports is addictive, once you get the feeling of being in the ocean and it is you and nature playing together...You are hooked! Excitement, fear, relaxation,meditation, being one with nature, pure fun are all part of the addiction to surfing.


Surfing is a lifestyle of being one with nature and the ocean. After over 40 years of paddling out, I still am never bored and am still learning. It's difficult to explain here how surfing makes you feel, when you are hooked, you dream, and in waking hours daydream about surfing. A surf term that is used all the time is 'stoke' which describes the excitement and enthusiasm of surfing.

Really though the secret to learning to surf is feel and flow and to never hesitate, once you are in the water, don't think too much, enjoy the amazing environment you are in and go for it. Hesitating can also lead to serious errors and injuries. But we will talk more about that later.

women's guide to surfing

Sister Surfer : A Woman's Guide to Surfing with Bliss and Courage

"SISTER SURFER is a book that explains the steps of surfing in an easy to understand way. It also does a great job of empowering women to experience surfing. A great read that will surely empower and motivate surfers of every level and ability.”

Where to Learn Surfing

The right waves for learning to surf

In general, You'll want to find a break with waves that look crumbly and slow. Waves that look easy and fun!

Learning to surf in small waves
Surfing Small Waves
There is more to choosing the right waves than you think and working out if that beach break is good for you at your level of surfing.

Here are some tips on reading the surf and what to look for

Pre-Surf Preparation

It's always a bad idea to just paddle out into the waves without first getting a good idea of what the conditions are like.

Always sit watching the surf, channels and rips to work out where the best spot is to surf and paddle out.

Watching The Waves
Watching The Surf

Here are some tips on what to do before you paddle out

Paddling and Laying on Your Surfboard

Paddling a surfboard is one of the most essential skills for surfing. It is what you will be doing most of the time in the water. It is what gives you your fitness and what makes you tired. Paddling correctly will help you catch waves and progress in surfing better, quicker.

Read more about how to paddle on a surfboard

Goofy or Regular Foot?

Before you get on your surfboard, or put on your surf leash you need to know whether you are Goofy or Regular foot. This means which foot you put at the front of your surfboard.

Simply put

Goofy footed- right foot at the front

Regular footed- left foot at the front

Surfing Foot Placement

Here are some tests:

Really the tests below are for people who really can't work out which foot to put forward. Most people when practicing to stand up on a surfboard, just do it without thinking.

The linoleum slide test -- wear socks and run and slide across the kitchen floor. Which foot is first? Plant it front on your board.

The push test -- have someone push you (gently) from behind. Which foot goes forward. That is your front foot.

The stair test -- which foot leads on stairs, down? Front foot.

Bike test -- When you ride a bike and coast, which foot leads on fast downhills? Front foot on board.

The best way to figure this out is to try riding a skateboard; your back leg while skateboarding is the same as while surfing.

Read about how to 'pop up' (stand up) on a surfboard

guide to learning to surf

The Complete Guide to Surfing:

Recommended by the United States Surfing Federation. This is the latest updated version with tips on your equipment, surfing techniques, safety, the rules and more information that every beginner surfer should know. It covers all the fundamentals of surfing from your first day in the water and what to expect, frustrations, reading waves and conditions.

Learn to Surf Books

Your First Surf Boarding Waves - Whitewater Waves

By now you have found a good place to learn to surf and have gotten used to paddling around on the board without falling off. The next step is to catch and ride your first surfing waves.

Beginners Surfing at Kata Beach

Read about how to ride your first whitewater wave

The Rules of Surfing

Become familiar with these rules of surfing behavior in the lineup before heading outside of the whitewater.

These are well- established rules throughout the world and bring order to what would otherwise be a nightmarish and chaotic sport, with everyone running each other over, lots of dinged-up boards, and lots of waves going by unridden because everyone is getting thrashed in the soup.

Read more about the rules of surfing and surf etiquette

Surfing Real Waves - Green Waves

Now that you've mastered the whitewater foamies and are well-versed in the rules of surfing, you're ready to catch some real waves.

Everyone remembers their first green wave! Now you're really surfing!

First Green Wave
Catching a Green Wave

Read all the details about how to catch and ride your first green wave

How to Duck Dive

Duck diving correctly is an essential technique for surfing. Duck diving allows you to get through/under the waves with the least amount of energy and also gets you out the back of the waves quickly.

Learning to duck dive takes a lot of practice it is not as easy as it looks. If you don't duck dive correctly the wave will push you back and you will probably lose your board. The worst scenario, on bigger waves, is that the wave will pick you up and suck you over the falls inside the wave! This is not a pleasant experience! But we've all been there!

Duck Diving

Read more about the steps on how to do a duck dive and a turtle roll

Your First Surfboard

When you learn to surf there are many different types of surfboards to choose from, and for a beginner the features and characteristics can seem confusing.

Girl Looking at a Surfboard
Choosing the right surfboard

The best surfboard for a beginner is a funboard or an egg, which is a fairly wide and thick board from 7' to 8' in length, typically having a blunt or rounded nose. A good rule of thumb is to get something 14"-24" longer than you are tall, and at least 20" wide.

Read more about which surfboard is suited for learning to surf

Your First Wetsuit

Far and away the single most important thing to look for when purchasing a new wetsuit is how it fits.

Shop around as much as you can. Make sure the suit has a comfortable feel. All suits will be tight by design but it shouldn't be totally restrictive of motion.


Read more about choosing a wetsuit or a lycra rash vest

Surfboard Leashes

The leash is a cord of polyurethane that straps around the ankle of a surfer and is attached to the surfboard. Attach it to your back leg. Never tug on the leash when your board is being held under as the board can come snapping back at you. Practice removing it quickly in case it gets caught on a rock or pier piling.

Surf Leash-Leg Rope

Most leashes have a quick release tab, a large piece of webbing that is easy to grab onto and pull. Treat your surfboard as if it was not attached, doing conservative exits and hanging onto it at all times.

Read more about surf leashes-legropes-the parts and how to choose a surfboard leash

Surf Wax / Traction Pads / Deck Grips

Something to keep your feet on the board once you learn to stand up.

Surfboard Wax

Wax goes on the deck (top) of the board. Usually comes in two coats, a base coat which goes directly onto the deck in a thin layer and is quite hard, and then a sticky coat over that which beads up to provide traction.

Surf Wax

Traction Pads / Deck Grips

Recently we have seen a resurgence in the expensive traction pads that provide some extra grip as well as padding for the deck of the board. They can limit the movement of the feet and can result in discomfort to the chest and stomach while paddling.

Tail patches/traction pads/deck grips are grip specially designed for the rear of the board, and provide good traction for the rear foot needed in most turns on a shortboard.

Read more about how to use and apply surfboard wax and traction pads

Surfboard Fins

Surfboards fins have changed a lot over the past years. Being able to change fin shapes and sizes has helped surfing evolve further. Deciding which fins to put in your surfboard and their placement can get quite confusing.

Read about Surfboard Fin Selection and Placement Tips

Surfboard Fins

Other Resources

Some other useful resources, opinions and tips for the beginning surfer on how to surf board.

Learn to surf with Merrick Davis in Noosa, Australia

Learn to Surf surfing lessons in Phuket

Practice, watch others, ask for advice, and check back here for more updates to the page.

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3 thoughts on “Learn to Surf Tips

  1. Thanks for the tip that having a wetsuit will help a lot in making my first time surfing a lot more comfortable. I’m interested in taking surfing classes soon because I recently moved to a neighborhood that’s pretty close to the coastal area. I think it would be nice to take advantage of how close I am to the beach now.

  2. My cousin would like to go on a surfing adventure because this will help her feel more relaxed and renewed. Well, I guess you are right that it will be best to learn the rules first before touching the waves. We’ll also keep in mind to invest in the correct gears.

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