Everything you need to know about surfing: Beginners Guide

Everything you need to know about surfing
  • Post category:Surfing
  • Reading time:13 mins read

What is surfing?

Surfing is a water sport, in which a surfer rides a wave while standing on a surfboard. The goal of surfing is to catch the most waves and ride them effectively for as long as possible. In order to maintain balance on the board, you need to position your feet toward the front of it and lean your weight forward from your ankles.

Surfing is a big part of the surfing lifestyle which includes daily, weekly, or monthly surf sessions at the beach with friends and fellow surfers; catching waves during fun free surfs at local lakes; hanging out in groups, surfing competitions; surfing star-gazing (with celebrities like Kelly Slater & Sunny Garcia); checking out new gear (surfboards, wetsuits, and surf accessories); and fueling before and after a session (coffee runs or Post Surf Refueling).

Surfing is very popular in Hawaii, where the number of surfers per capita is higher than anywhere else in the world. An estimated two million tourists visit Hawaii each year to do some surfing.

At present, surfing is in its sixth decade as an Olympic sport. The World Surf League (which was formerly called the Association of Surfing Professionals) has been holding official events since 1976. It is currently presided over by Fernando Aguerre, a surfing legend who holds 10 world titles under his belt.

Types of surfing

In order to determine what type of surfing you would like to do, you must first decide where you want to go. In the ocean, there are three different types of waves:

  1. Reef breaks,
  2. Point breaks, and
  3. Beach breaks.

Wherever there is a breaking wave with a steep incline from deep water to shallow, wind and swell conditions determine if it is rideable. Reef breaks are very powerful and dangerous, point breaks are the most ideal for beginners, and beach breaks will give you more opportunities to catch waves.

Surfing can be done in these locations:

Hawaii, California (with excellent surf on both coasts), Australia, South America, Florida (which has some of the best surfing in the world), Mexico, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Florida Keys (although this is not a major destination for surfers), and Morocco. These are just some of the most popular locations to catch a wave.

Surfing can be done at different times of the year depending on location:

In southern California, you will have decent dry season waves in the summertime, but they will be better in winter. The winter surfing season is longer and more consistent than in summer.

North of Puerto Rico it’s possible to surf year-round due to tropical climates like Hawaii’s which has warm weather all year round with an upswing during the North American winter months when water temperatures are at their lowest.

Surfing can also be done in a pool. This is a good way to practice for beginners who live far from the ocean or inland with no ocean nearby and have never surfed before. The Ocean Beach Wave Company pools are set up so that they mimic the ocean waves so you get comfortable with splashing around in the water and standing on a surfboard before you attempt surfing in open water.

Surfing can be done by these individuals:

Men, women, children, teenagers, adults of all ages – there are no requirements except a desire to have fun and a willingness to try something new. Women were not allowed to participate in surfing until the mid-1900s.

Why surfing is good for you

Surfing is a great way to stay in shape.

You will lose weight from being in the water and engaging your core, arms, legs – pretty much all of your muscles.

Your flexibility will improve rapidly so that you can get low on your surfboard when cutting across a wave or making sharp turns to avoid being slammed by a crashing wave.

Surfing is great because it doesn’t require much equipment and all you need is a board, a wetsuit, and some sunscreen. The surfing staples are cheap to purchase – boards start around $200 at the very cheapest stores. A good wetsuit that will keep you warm in cold water can cost up to $250. Other equipment can be rented from a surf shop for a daily or weekly fee.

Surfing is also great because it’s one of the few sports that you can do with your family – all you have to do is learn together and catch waves together. If you don’t want to use a foam board, then take turns on your parent’s board.

It is also a very good way to make friends with other people who share the same interests as you. You can meet new people surfing, join an informal surf club or association, or go on guided tours that will take you to different beaches all over the world (which includes housing and food).

Surfing will give you a new appreciation for nature

Many beaches that are popular with surfers will also have beautiful sights like waterfalls, cliffs by the sea, caves to explore, and many other attractions. It’s really cool when you get out of the water after surfing because there are so many things to see.

The South Pacific island of Samoa even has a surfing culture and belief system. Surfers who go on pilgrimages to ride waves at Piula Beach in Samoa are said to have their sins forgiven. The stories of the people who have seen or experienced spiritual interactions with the ocean are many.

The energy of the ocean creates an environment where strangers feel comfortable talking to each other – whether they’re catching waves together or helping others who have been knocked down by a big wave.

You should consider surfing if you are looking for an activity to do with friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you know. It’s also good exercise and it keeps you healthy while providing lots of fun at the same time. You can meet new people through surfing and ride waves together!

First, you will need to choose a place where you can surf. If you are in the middle of the ocean then it would be extremely difficult to learn how.

You should go to an area with consistent waves that have small faces – meaning they’re not too high and not too steep. These types of waves are also called “glassy” and they will let you stand up straight on your surfboard without too much trouble.

Where to do surfing: Best places

The best places to go surfing will have a beach with waves that are close to shore and not too high. The best time of year for surfing is during spring or summer when the water temperature is warm enough to spend several hours in without getting cold.


The most popular and well-known place for surfing in the U.S. is Hawaii because the winds and weather conditions there bring lots of surfers to different beaches all over the islands.

Southern California

This area attracts surfers from all over the world. Once winter hits in the northern hemisphere, surfers flock to California and Hawaii to take advantage of the good waves.

Northern California

Northern California is another place that attracts a lot of people because there are many beaches with great surfing conditions. Some locations in this area include Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.

Central and Northern Pacific

In this region, there are many Hawaiian Islands including Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. These places have lots of consistent waves which is why they’re some of the best surfing locations in the world.


Surfing started in Canada so it makes sense that some of the best places to catch waves are there. Some great hot spots include West Vancouver Island, Tofino, and Nanaimo.

If you want to start surfing then the first thing you should do is buy a surfboard. You can either choose a soft-top or a hardboard.

Soft-top boards are easy to ride and they resemble skis. They make it easier for you to learn how to surf because your feet will always remain in contact with the board.

Hard-top boards are more expensive than soft-tops but they allow you to get up easily after falling down or getting knocked off of your board by a wave.

Once you buy a board, you should go to the nearest beach and practice standing on it in waist-deep water. Once you’re comfortable with that you can paddle out further.

Types of Surfboards for surfing

There are five major types of surfboards: longboard, shortboard, fish, gun, and hybrid.

Longboards – these boards were popularized by Tom Blake in the early 1900s and they’ve been used by competitive surfers since the late 1950s. These boards are typically around 8-10 feet long with a width of 23 inches.

A longboard is the oldest design and it’s what most people think of when they hear surfing. It measures around 9 to 12 feet with the average person standing 6.5-7 feet tall.

Shortboards – these boards have become increasingly popular over the past few decades because they’re easy to catch waves on, they’re fast, and you can maneuver them with ease.

A shortboard is only about 6 feet long but it’s still wider than a longboard, which means that more weight is distributed toward the tail. This also means that it’s difficult to stand up on a shortboard because you need to be very agile and move quickly.

Fishing boards – these are usually around 5 feet long with a width of about 20 inches. They’re designed for catching waves but they’re not good for standing up. People sometimes use them for tricks.

Fish boards are usually about 28-30 inches wide, 5ft long and have a nice, round nose. If you have a day where the waves aren’t good enough to ride your regular board then go fish it out with one of these!

Gun – these boards resemble the shape of a rocket and they’re good for fast, straight rides. The width of these boards is usually around 20 inches and they’re 9-13 feet long.

If your goal is to go fast then the gun is most likely your best bet. It is designed to cut through the water with ease and move quickly down the line; it’s also easy to maneuver in small, quick motions.

Hybrids – these boards are usually designed to do a multitude of things like paddle, surf, and stand upon the board. These boards vary in size and shape but they’re usually around 8 feet long with widths ranging from 21-28 inches.

Gear needed for surfing


The water’s temperature varies from location to location but it’s never more than a few degrees higher than 70F/21C. If you don’t think that you can handle the cold then get a wetsuit because it acts as a shield against the ocean and keeps your body heat close to your core.

If you want to use a wetsuit then make sure that you buy one with a snug fit because loose-fitting ones can slow you down and lead to overheating.

Board shorts

These are shorts that you wear over your swimsuit. Some people like them because they’re made of neoprene and help to wick away moisture.

You want board shorts that are tight-fitting around the waist but loose around the legs so that they won’t interfere with your paddling or riding abilities. Surfboard leash – this leash is attached to the ankle of your board and it’s usually around 8ft long; the end snaps onto your leg rope.

There are leashes made of stretchy materials like rubber and nylon but they’re not good for beginners because you need a secure connection in case you fall off or get knocked off by a wave. You don’t want your board flying away from you.

Surfboard booties

You should also consider buying boots for extra warmth and ankle protection since the surfboard doesn’t really protect your legs from rocks or other shells in the water.

Board boots are usually made of stretchy neoprene and they help to keep your feet warm when you’re surfing in chilly water. They also add a layer of insulation so that you don’t get hypothermia by being too cold for too long while paddleboarding.


You’ll want to use goggles because they protect your eyes from the saltwater and you don’t have to worry about any chemical reactions between the sunscreen and chlorine in your eyes. You should also wear a pair of sunglasses or contacts underneath your goggles for more protection, which makes it easier to see where you’re going.

Surfing etiquette

When you’re on the beach at any surfing spot make sure to ask around to see if there are rules or guidelines for beginners. There may be a right side of the beach that’s easier to catch waves or it might be better to go during low tide instead of the high tide because it’s less crowded.

Don’t walk on any of the gear or boards that people have left out on the beach – look but don’t touch. This is a given sometimes so it’s not even mentioned in some areas.

If you’re already surfing and someone else comes up to the water then be aware that they may need help catching their first wave or they might want you to share the lineup with them so be cordial and friendly.

Don’t drop in on anyone – this is when you cut someone off for a wave and it’s considered really rude. Also, don’t spend too much time taking pictures at the peak of a ride because you could miss your own waves. The only person who should take photos is the one who’s surfing it.


Surfing can be a lot of fun and now that you have all this essential information about what to wear, how to catch the wave, where to go next time you’re at the beach – now might be a good time for your first lesson. Good luck!

Everything you need to know about surfing: Beginners Guide

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