Surfing has been a hobby of mine for some years now. I am, by no means, what you’d call an expert since I can’t pop up on my feet – but enough know-how to have fun in the water and catch some waves here and there. There are lessons one can learn from surfing that translate well to life in general.
1. It’s not how good you are, but the joy you bring to others that truly matters
Being in or near the water brings a smile to my face. I love to share this with people, especially kids and friends that have never been to the ocean before. Sharing moments when “the wave” finally breaks and when you’re out there with your closest friends is one of the best things in life to me.
2. You can never master all the angles
There’s always a better wave, deeper tube, or steeper drop waiting for you. As much as I enjoy pushing my limits and skills, it means much more to be able to relax at home thinking I’ll be just as happy surfing an easy beach break.
3. Paddling is everything
It takes a while to understand that paddling and positioning yourself in the right spot are the top two priorities for having fun in the ocean. It’s almost impossible to catch waves standing there holding your board – you’re guaranteed to get worked! You gotta paddle to where the waves are in order to make your way in with them.
4. The ocean ALWAYS wins
It’s probably the most humbling experience in life knowing you’re no match for nature and its raw power, but it keeps us grounded and gives surfers a keen sense of humility. Once you get caught inside by a set of waves, it’s REALLY hard to paddle back out again. Even the most experienced surfers can get thrown around by Mother Nature – you pick up respect for her very quickly!
5. Be aware of your surroundings
It doesn’t take much to look behind you before paddling out or taking off on a wave; sometimes there are people on jetskis or rocks that’ll hurt your feet. Be aware of local wildlife – a stingray can ruin your day! It’s important to understand you’re sharing the water with other people, so be smart about where you go and what you do.
6. You don’t need those fancy new boards, wetties, and wax every time
When you’re starting out, spending a lot of money on new equipment isn’t necessary. Use what’s already there or borrow from friends! All that matters is that you’re having fun and enjoying the water – not impressing anyone with how much gear you have. That being said, It’s always better to use proper equipment if you can.
7. Conditions change – be flexible!
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to change my mind about what spot or wave I’ll surf based on conditions and moods. Surfing is like dancing: you lead and your board follows (It’s a good idea to not stand up yet when paddling out). Being open to changing your mind is a good lesson for life – not everything goes exactly as you plan, but it’s always better if you go with the flow!
8. Geography matters
I can’t surf well on this beach break at home, so I won’t take my chances trying out that spot in Mexico without having done some research. I’m a firm believer that everyone has a spot or two where they’ll surf well, so if you have the chance to try different spots – do so!
9. It’s more fun with friends
Surfing is probably one of those few activities that are as much fun with nobody around as it is with a bunch of people. That being said, there’s something to be said about riding a wave with friends or even just having someone to share stories and experiences with after the session.
10. The ocean is where we should all return
The sea has been an integral part of human life since time began. It’s our duty as humans to preserve this beautiful resource that sustains us and so many other lifeforms. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to enjoy her beauty and appreciate what she provides for us – we’re truly blessed.
11. We all make mistakes – try not to crash
SURFING is probably one of the most unforgiving sports there are. It’s very easy to get yourself into trouble, so be smart and never overestimate your abilities. The ocean always wins in the end!
12. Have fun!
It seems like it should be a given, but it’s easy to get caught up in stress and worry over certain things. Being able to just let go is one of the joys of surfing – when you realize it doesn’t really matter whether you catch a wave or not!
13. Be humble in victory, gracious in defeat
There are days where you’ll ride wave after wave and set records, but there are also days where you’ll struggle to stand up on your board. It’s good to be confident in yourself, but it’s even better not to brag about what you’ve done or beat yourself down too hard when things don’t go according to plan.
14. Respect the water
The ocean water is beautiful and nourishing, but it’s important to understand that it belongs to the sea – not us. We’re borrowing it for a short time; let’s make sure we take care of her!
15. Remember why you fell in love with surfing during your first session
Surfing is an activity that can bring you closer to nature, your friends, and yourself. There’s a certain harmony to be found in the water as you move with your board, the wave, and the sea. It’s something we should always hold onto and strive for!
16. Never stop learning – it’s how we grow
The more things I learn about surfing, the more I realize how little I know. This is a good thing though: it means I never stop learning and growing as an individual! That’s something we should all do – not just within our sport, but in everything we look to improve.
17. Respect the locals
There’s nothing worse than going to a new beach and seeing someone drop in on someone already riding a wave or hold onto someone’s board when they’re about to catch a wave. This sort of behavior is disrespectful and just plain rude, so don’t be that person!
18. Watch out for sharks…
…and most importantly, don’t worry about them! I can’t count the number of times someone has freaked out about seeing a shark at the beach. Just stay calm, keep an eye on your surroundings, and know that you’re more likely to be hit by lightning than attacked by a shark!
19. Don’t surf too late or too early
Both of these are just asking for bad waves, if not worse! It’s no fun surfing when it’s flat – both because it’s not very exciting and because you’re wasting a session! In the same way, don’t go surfing at sunrise or sunset – there are just too many variables that can affect your session.
20. Don’t give up!
Surfing is frustrating sometimes, but you need to keep at it until you get a wave in the right conditions! Every surfer on the planet has been there – you’re frustrated and ready to pack it in, but if you keep at it you’ll get that well-deserved wave.
21. Respect our access points
Don’t litter, don’t leave your trash behind, or let your dog run wild – surfing is only possible because of public access points like this! Do your best to keep them clean and take care of them.
22. Enjoy the ride – it’s all about the journey, not the destination
There will always be days where you’re not catching much, but that doesn’t mean you’re not surfing! It only means that wasn’t your day. Don’t worry about what you’re catching, but rather focus on the ride.
23. Respect your environment
The surf site is not your living room – it’s an extension of nature that we all share. Never leave anything behind in the water or on the beach – take any litter with you! It’s also important to respect other people while surfing, so don’t run over anyone or do anything that would harm the environment.
Surfing is a lot of things: it’s an art, a lifestyle, and a sport. It’s also a wonderful thing to share with friends and family – I hope you’ll consider getting into surfing! For those who are already hooked, just remember that we’re lucky to be able to do what we love – not everyone gets that chance.