Top tips for first-time surfers

If you’ve decided to try surfing for the first time, you’ve made a great choice. Surfing is totally exhilarating and utterly addictive (once you get the hang of it). Plus, it does wonders for your body, toning every muscle and burning around 250 calories per hour.


© EpicStockMedia / Adobe Stock

But, surfing isn’t an easy sport to master. First-timers should always gain tuition from a qualified instructor, to ensure they understand the techniques and stay safe when in the water. Here are some other essential tips that every newbie surfer should follow.


Location is key

Surfing spots vary according to difficulty rating so choose a location that is suitable for beginners. Even then, you should keep an eye on weather conditions, as no two days are the same – so-called beginner surf sites can become more tricky if the wind, swell and currents change. It’s also worth bearing in mind that every surf location has its own distinctive vibe. Some are geared towards locals while others are more welcoming and inviting to strangers.


Choose your surfboard carefully

Surfboards aren’t all equal, so it’s vital to get to know your different options. Boards are measured by volume, which takes into account thickness, width and length. As a beginner, pick a large board that has plenty of surface area or volume for you to learn on. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got the right wetsuit – it can get cold when you’re sat around waiting for a wave to come along.



There is nothing more annoying than spending your time out back in the water fighting off cramp when you could be riding the crest of a wave. In order to reduce the occurrence of muscle cramps, do some stretching exercises before you begin your surf session.


Don’t expect an easy ride

Learning to surf can be frustrating at first because it can seem like you’re spending all of your time in the water or falling over. Plus, getting to grips with the technology can feel like learning a new language in itself! However, perseverance and taking small steps are key. Aim for small waves initially rather than trying to tackle waves out of your depth. Spend time learning how to sit flat (or prone) on the surfboard and raise yourself to a standing position. You’ll need to practise how to paddle effectively and keep your feet moving while positioning your surfboard correctly to get the most from each wave. Knowing how to react when you do wipeout is also crucial to get back safely on your board again.


Safety matters

It’s important to stay safe when doing any kind of watersports, especially if you’re a first-time surfer. An unexpected wave or change of current can take you unawares, giving you a nasty shock at best or a potentially life-threatening injury at worst. To ensure you’re protected when surfing, always wear a surf leash, which connects you to your board.


Follow surf etiquette

Chances are you won’t be the only surfer trying to catch a wave, so learn to be respectful and considerate towards fellow wave riders. No surfer likes gearing up to catch a wave only for it to be stolen by someone else nearby, so when deciding whether an approaching wave is rideable, check to see whether it’s in your patch or closer to someone else. Never hog the waves or cut in front of a surfer when they’re just about to get on their board.