Surfing is hard enough without adding in the stress of feeling like a nuisance just for being a beginner in the water among seasoned vets in the art of hanging ten. There’s so much to remember, like the gear, to keep your mouth closed in the water, and how to stand the heck up on a board, to name a few things. So, for newbie surfers, picking a beach with beginner-friendly waves and a welcoming vibe is key.
“Most beginners prefer to learn in places with calm waves that break over sand, and where they can touch the bottom,” says Amy Schwartz, co-founder of Unleash Surf, a surf-retreat company for remote workers. “In general, spots that are popular with longboarders are more appropriate for beginners, as longboarders tend to prefer more chill waves,” says Schwartz.
Furthermore, beginners should look for larger beaches that allow for “plenty of space” between surfers, says professional surfer Ben Bourgeois, adding that before paddling out, it’s a good idea to ask a lifeguard of fellow surfer for details to expect, like rocks or riptides.
And since surf guidebooks are often written by experienced surfers, who cater to folks seeking out powerful waves rather than avoiding them, we asked the experts for beginner-friendly surf destinations. Because not being able to stand upright on a board yet doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation. Read on for seven welcoming options for newbies.
Below, find 7 surf destinations perfect for beginners in the art of hanging ten.
1. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
Feeding from the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka is Arugam Bay, a right-breaking point with a gentle, sandy bottom perfect for repeated wipeouts. According to surf blog Still Stoked, the best conditions for riding waves is during Sri Lanka’s dry season, from May to September. Take a tuk tuk from wherever you’re staying to the beach, surf all morning, then sweat out all that effort with a hot and spicy beachside curry.
2. Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada
Lawrencetown is home to one of the most under-hyped beaches of Canada. There, head to East Coast Surf School for a quality lesson that takes advantage of the beach’s south-facing direction. That means smooth, consistent waves all year long. As long as you can stand the Canadian cold, that is.
3. Long Beach, New York; Rincon, Puerto Rico
Skudin Surf School offers surf camps local to New York City on Long Beach, Rockaway Beach, and Nickerson Beach. And, for year-round water babies seeking wintertime surf sessions, visit the company’s sister school, Skudin Surf Shack, in Rincon, Puerto Rico.
4. Huanchaco, Peru
At Unleash Surf, Schwartz’s surf school in northern Peru, surfers can choose from a left-leaning break on the Pacific Ocean, or a calmer, protected bay that’s ideal for novices. Waves stay consistent throughout the day, so there’s no need to worry about slamming into anyone with your board.
5. Cabarete, Dominican Republic
For beginners who insist on visiting popular surf breaks, get a local or a coach to take you to the hidden-gem spots. That’s exactly what Bourgeois does during his private-coaching sessions he offers through Airbnb Experiences. Choose a private tour in Cabarete to watch expert kitesurfers seemingly hover over the waves on Kite Beach, then find a safe spot (i.e., far away from them) to practice your own wipeouts in the company of Bourgeois and his many years of pro-surf experience.
6. Honolulu, Hawaii
Bourgeois describes Moniz Family Surf as “the original place to take surf lessons.” Owned by former World Tour Profesional Tony Moniz and his five surfer children, group sessions are staffed by multiple coaches who have decades of experience on boards. Plus, how much convincing do you really need to take a trip to Hawaii?
7. La Saladita, Guerrero, Mexico
If you’re traveling with more advanced surfer pals, head to La Saladita, on Mexico’s west coast. The bay at La Saladita offers a “gentle left-breaking point that is popular with longboarders and beginners,” says Schwartz. And about 20 minutes away is Troncones, yet another surf town with a slightly more difficult, rockier break that’s perfect for you and friends of different levels to divide and conquer.
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