women learning to surf

10 essential tips for learning how to learn to surf: Northern Beaches edition

There’s no doubt about it – we have some beautiful beaches here in the Northern Beaches. From Dee Why Beach to Avalon Beach, we’ve got a huge stretch of soft sand and mesmerising waves – it’s hard not to spend all day, every day paddling amongst the waves!

If you’re a Sydney-sider, you’ve no doubt thought about taking up surfing. It’s one of Australia’s favourite past-times and now, Aussie culture is automatically linked to surfing all over the world (thanks Home & Away).

If your curiosity has peaked and you’re considering taking up the sport, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ve shared 10 essential tips for learning how to surf on the Northern Beaches, so you can spend more time on the sand and swimming in our glorious beaches.

Read on – before you hit the waves, you’re going to need to be prepared!

#1. DON’T try to teach yourself

The number one most important piece of advice we can give you – never try to teach yourself how to surf. 

All water sports can be dangerous, but surfing especially so. If you’re planning to learn how to surf, make sure to get the help of an experienced friend or teacher, or consider signing up for a surf camp for a crash course in the basics of surfing. 

#2. Choose an experienced teacher

Find a teacher with great reviews, plenty of experience, and a passion for surfing which will inspire you to continue on with the sport.

When you start the search for a surfing teacher, make sure to review their websites, their qualifications/experience, their social media accounts, and ask around the surfing community for recommendations. 

If you find the right teacher, they won’t just teach you how to surf – they’ll inspire you to continue on with the sport until you’re confident and skilled enough to tackle the surf on your own.

#3. Choose the right board

Not all surfboards are created equal.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend choosing a larger, wider board to help you master the basic skills and mechanics of surfing. With a larger board, you’ll catch a lot more waves and feel more stable in the learning phase of your surfing career.

Beginner surfboards are also made to be extra durable and buoyant, so you feel safer and more secure in the surf. 

#4. Get a reliable body-suit or rashie to protect your skin

Surf rash is one of the worst parts of learning to surf.

Naturally, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your board on your stomach. Without a proper bodysuit or rash vest to protect your skin, you’re most likely going to suffer from surf rash.

Before heading out to your first surfing lesson, make sure to grab a durable, reliable bodysuit or rash vest. The thick, water-safe material will reduce the possibility and discomfort of surf rash.

#5. Spend some time on the sand first

children learning to surf on land

Image: Surfer Today

A responsible surfing coach will teach you the basics on land before you even think about getting in the water.

There are basic moves you’ll need to learn on land first, like how to paddle effectively, jump from your belly to your feet, and how to maintain your balance on a wave. 

By practicing on the sand, you’ll get a feel for the required skills and movements on surfing, giving you more confidence once you hit the waves.

#6. Get comfortable sitting on the board

Sitting on a surfboard can be an uncomfortable experience. When you’re out on the waves, you need to spend extended periods of time wide-legged, one leg on either side of the board.

Make sure to do some stretching before heading out into the surf. Your hips and thighs will thank you for it!

#7. Practice paddling

Have you been practicing your cardio? 

Surfing requires a lot of paddling – and there’s an art to it. For example, beginner surfers often paddle too far back on their boards, making the board wheelie and slow, meaning you have to work a lot harder to get where you want to be.

To find the sweet spot, mark your board with a piece of wax and make sure to paddle in this position.

Likewise, you need to find a rhythm which is comfortable for you and keep to it. You’ll need to be in some sort of shape, because for the first few times it’s going to be exhausting.

#8. Tackle a beginner’s wave 

The biggest wave ever surfed was the behemoth, topping out at 80 feet (24 metres) off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal. This monster wave was tackled in November 2017 by pro-surfer, Rodrigo Koza, and he had tonnes of experience before ever dreaming of riding the behemoth.

So, before you start dreaming about monster waves like the behemoth, you’re going to need to tackle some beginner waves.

Make sure to find a beach which is appropriate for beginner surfers – look for beaches with steady waves and a great reputation for beginners, like Freshwater Beach which has consistent small waves as a protected beach.

Find the right beach and some calm waves, and you’ll be a pro before you know it.

#9. Bend your knees, not your back

Want to avoid getting a bad back after your first day out on the surf? You’re going to need to bend your knees, not your back!

When you’re trying to catch your balance, it’s tempting to hunch your back to gain better balance on the board. However, you’ll actually find you have way better balance with your knees bent than your back.

Bending your knees will protect your back from soreness and injuries, plus you’ll look way better out on the waves.

#10. Avoid getting competitive with the experienced kids on the block

Watching experienced surfers is mesmerising. They’re fit, they’re confident, and they know exactly what they’re doing out in the surf – but it’s important not to get too carried away trying to impress them or keep up with them.

Most experienced surfers have a few years under their belt. However, if you’re entirely new to the sport, you’re going to want to take your time, take it easy, and tackle a few beginner waves before paddling out to surf with the big kids.

Don’t let their skills tempt you – wait until you’re a little more experienced and much more confident before getting competitive.

Go forth and tackle some waves on the glorious Northern Beaches!

We have some beautiful beaches around the Northern Beaches and Dee Why – and surfing is one way to truly get the most out of our incredible climate here in Sydney. As one of Australia’s most famous and enjoyable past-times, it’d be a shame not to give it a go.

However, before you head out on the waves, it’s important to gain some basic skills, take some lessons, build your confidence and your fitness, so you can feel prepared when you’re paddling out into the waves.

Take our tips on board and then contact a professional surfing teacher, so you can feel safe and secure learning the basics of surfing and build your skills for future surfing adventures.

In the meantime… head out to Dee Why Beach, soak up some sun, and then head on over to Dee Why RSL Club for a schooner, a classic Aussie lunch or dinner (the schnitzel and chips is always a winner), and a laugh with your mates.

There’s never a bad time to pop into Dee Why RSL!

Now you know the basics of learning how to surf, enjoy the rest of Dee Why & the Northern Beaches. Pop in for lunch or dinner today! 


Main Image: Pexels