Learn to surf: 7 tips for beginners

Feeling the sun on your skin and wind in your hair can refresh your mind and restore your soul. And when you add adrenaline and salty water to the mix, you get an experience like no other! We’re talking about surfing – becoming one with the waves and ocean air. Are you an outdoor enthusiast with a keen interest in this sport? Learn to surf with help from the Vacation Letting team. (Check out our Amanzimtoti beach accommodation, perfect for your first surf trip.)

Learn to surf with these helpful tips:

learn to surf

1. Choose a soft-top surfboard

Getting hit by your board is an inevitable part of surfing and something that you will get used to over time. Choosing the right board can make your transition that much easier, though. Opt for an entry-level board – the softer, the better. You’ll find a soft-top board won’t cause as many bumps and bruises on impact.

2. Practice your pop up

We’re sure you’re familiar with the surfer pop up – that quick and fluid movement from laying stomach-down on the board to standing upright on the waves. The motion involves a controlled push up off the board so you land on your feet. The key to mastering this technique is practice, practice, practice, ideally on land at first so your pop up comes more naturally in the water.

3. Wax between sessions

It’s tough enough being a beginner surfer without having to worry about slipping and sliding off your board! Start on the right foot before practice begins by waxing your surfboard. A good wax will give your feet some grip and help you keep your balance as you learn to surf. (Thinking of taking a surf trip in the near future? Discover the benefits of a beach holiday.)

4. Leash up

When out on the waves, we all want that cool, surfer-dude look. And you might think leaving the leash off will add to your surf cred. But trust us, this would be a bad move. As a beginner surfer, you should always wear a leash to prevent your board from hitting other surfers and being swept away by the current. Tie your leash to your back foot (in your surf stance) and position the rope outward away from your ankle so you don’t get tangled up.

5. Try the turtle-roll

We know it’s tempting to dive under breaking waves like a badass. But resist the urge! You’re still in the early days of your surfing exploits, and your larger beginner’s board is not conducive to the duck diving technique. Instead, opt for the turtle-roll. This move is easy – all you have to do is grab the rails, flip the board over, and hold onto it underneath the water until the wave passes. You can also simply stay on the board and push your body up over the whitewater.

6. Paddle properly

There’s a right way to paddle and a wrong way to paddle. This may seem surprising to you, but as you learn to surf, you’ll notice it’s true. Paddling too far down on the surfboard can have you doing wheelies, and paddling too far up can send the nose underwater. Both slowing you down, big time. The key here is to find the sweet spot somewhere in the middle so each stroke counts. Once you’ve found it, mark it off on your board with wax so you can find it quickly each time.

7. Time it just right

This part can be tricky for beginner surfers. But you know what they say – practice makes perfect! Once you’ve made the decision to catch a wave, paddle to position on the left or right of where it will break while keeping a close eye on its movements. As the wave approaches and starts to spill over, that’s your moment to pop up and enjoy the ride! And if you don’t stick the landing, don’t worry, you can always catch the next one. (Looking for your next surfing beach? These spots have the best waves in South Africa.)

Learn to surf now and enjoy a beach holiday later

If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a new hobby, why not learn to surf? Plan your next beach holiday and book accommodation with Vacation Letting. Our beautiful holiday homes are situated in Amanzimtoti, St Lucia and Mossel Bay. Explore our offering online.

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