Always wanted to learn to surf? The sport is demanding and takes a while to master, but there’s no greater thrill than standing up on a board for the very first time and riding a wave into shore. For the best success, choose one of the following surf breaks, all of which are great for novices.
Top Ten U.S. Beaches for Learning to Surf:
Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach may be the best place in the world to learn how to surf. During the winter months the waves are easy to catch, and instructors at Waikiki Beach Boys have a reputation for getting beginners up and riding waves in minutes, regardless of age or physical prowess. Lessons begin on the beach, where students learn how to safely paddle out and how to pop up onto their feet when they catch a wave. Then it’s time to paddle out, turn around, and wait for the instructor to give the board a gentle push as the first wave approaches.
Miami Beach, Florida
In Miami Beach, you’ll never have to worry about the surf being too big, making for great learning conditions and uncrowded waves. The water is always warm and you’re never far from some of the country’s best entertainment hot spots.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Kelly Slater, the surfer with the most world titles, grew up and learned to surf in Cocoa Beach. The year-round gentle waves at this beach are small, slow and mushy, making them ideal for learning.
Jobos Beach, Isabela, Puerto Rico
Although most waves in Puerto Rico are too big for newbies, the exception is Jobos Beach on the northwestern corner of the island. This crescent shaped bay has an outside break for experienced surfers and an inside “reform” break that quickly drops to powerful whitewater -perfect for learning.
Cowell’s Beach, Santa Cruz, California
At Cowell’s the crowd is mostly beginners on foam boards, so there’s no need to be intimidated. The wave breaks on the outside and rolls slowly into the beach. And Santa Cruz is a perfect stepping-off point for exploring northern California’s beaches and Redwoods forests.
Huntington Beach, California
Billed as the Surf Capitol of the USA, Huntington Beach has numerous breaks for surfers of all capabilities. The double-breaking waves on the south side of the pier are best left for the experts, but beginners will find the waves on the north side of the pier perfect for learning.
Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach is where the University of California, Irvine hosts their beginner surf classes. Between the Newport Pier and the first jetty there are numerous great beginner breaks.
San Diego, California
There are several San Diego area surf breaks that are appropriate for beginners. Notable among them are the sand-bottom beaches in the northern part of the County, in communities such as Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Leucadia.
Zuma Beach, Malibu, California
The northern area of Zuma Beach in Malibu boasts a soft sandy bottom with consistent wave activity and this beach is consistently identified by lifeguards as one of L.A’s best places for kids to learn to surf!
Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
There is always a perfect beginner break somewhere on the north shore of Kauai, but most days you need look no further than gorgeous Hanalei Bay, where you can learn to surf on consistent, gentle waves in one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth.
In addition to choosing a beach with a wave that’s appropriate for beginners, the following tips will go a long way toward ensuring your success:
- Start with a long foam board (at least 8′ long but preferably 9′ or longer), rather than a regular fiberglass board. These are usually available for rent at any local surf shop.
- Avoid beaches with large, aggressive waves and experienced surfers.
- Rather than perfectly formed waves, look for a long whitewater break – this type of wave will provide plenty of energy to push your board without the need for you to initially understand how to drop in to a wave.
- Choose a beach with small to medium size (waist-high or smaller), slow-moving waves and a gently sloping sandy bottom that allows you to walk out to the break rather than paddle out.
So, go catch a few, but be forewarned – once you’ve ridden a wave you’ll probably be hooked for life!
Photo credit: Waikiki Beach
Article by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels