Everything About Learning to Surf
Learn to Surf Tips for Beginners

A quick guide on how to learn to surf

for newcomers to the sport/lifestyle/obsession of surfing

Learn to Surf Instructions-How to Learn to Surf

'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 to Surf

The right waves for learning to surf

In general, a surf boarding beginner wants to find a break with waves that look crumbly and slow. Try to find small waves and a sandy beach; you'll be walking around a lot. Don't paddle into a crowded break; you'll likely be a hazard.

Don't surf alone either; there will be nobody to help if you're in trouble. Surf where there are people present but not right on top of them where you'll be in the way.

Ask around for good beginner surf breaks when you're shopping around for your surfing equipment. Most shop proprietors will be happy to assist, especially if you're making a purchase.

Easy Waves For Surfing

Easy Waves For Surfing

You could also look for surf schools giving surfing lessons. Where they are teaching others is probably a place that has good beginner waves. Or get your first lesson with a surf school and they will teach you what are good waves for learning and many other important tips that will take you a long time to learn by trial and error.

To find the right break for you to learn on. Phuket has become known as a place with gentle and easy waves, which are ideal for learning to surf.

The surfing Phuket beaches pages on this web site have detailed information on the surf conditions in Phuket. For other locations go to  surfing in Thailand.

Websites like Global surfers also have plenty of information for surfing destinations all over the world. You could also check out some of the beach cams in your area to see if the waves are suitable for surfing beginners.

Here are some tips on reading the surf and rip currents

Read about how to catch and ride your first wave

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.

In December, 1978, a young surfer did just that at The Farm in Australia, paddling out into what he thought was head-high surf when it was twice that size and getting bigger, an hour of being thrashed around paddling aimlessly into oncoming walls of whitewater the surfer was exhausted and lay on the beach for another hour just getting his breath back.

Oh yeah....that young surfer was me.......I quickly learnt my lesson though, and these days I always sit watching the surf, channels and rips to work out where the best spot is to surf and paddle out.

Watch the waves for at least twice as many minutes as the waves are high on the face in feet. On a waist high day, that means watching for about 5 or 6 minutes. On a double-overhead day, that means watching for about 20 minutes. You should watch long enough to see at least 2 lots of set waves roll in.

Watching The Waves

Watching The Surf

Get a feel for where everyone is sitting in the water, where the waves are breaking, and where they're not breaking. Look for rip currents, rocks and hazards. Watch a few larger 'set waves' roll through. Think about where you can paddle out into the surf, and where you can swim in if you get into trouble.

Also, take some time while watching the waves to stretch. Focus on your neck, shoulders, triceps, back, and legs. Swing your arms and get your pulse going. Get into a calm state of mind.

Put some sunscreen on your face and some wax on your board and get out there!

Here are some tips on stretching exercises before you go surfing

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

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.

Read about how to ride your first whitewater wave

Read About how to fall off your surfboard

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 ride your first green wave

Now you're ready to do some turns and maneuvers

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!

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.

Choosing the Right Board

Choosing the Right Board

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.

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

These are 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 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

Read about Surfboard Fin Selection Tips from FCS

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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