What I Learned While Learning to Surf

January 25, 2011 in Australia,Places

Brooke Schoenman of WhyGo Australia gets us all in the Australia mindset with a great post on learning to surf the Gold Coast. While I learned to surf in Maui, perhaps I’ll add practicing on the Gold Coast to the bucket list? If you’re interested in guest posting, please contact me!

Australia most certainly can’t be mentioned without the name conjuring up images of kangaroos, beaches and surfing. That’s right; this island continent offers residents and visitors access to eye-popping, gorgeous beaches that stretch for miles and are known for their great surf. So, if you happen to come to Australia, chances are you’ll be giving it a go just like I did on my recent press trip to the Gold Coast.

surfers paradise

I had never been surfing before in my life until my lesson with Beach Bum Australia. Since I kinda-sorta have a fear of what lies out in the deep blue (look, I grew up in the Midwest, far away from the
ocean), our 7:30 am wake-up surf was a little nerve-wracking. But, I wasn’t alone in my fear, so with the other members of the newbie surf club, we took the plunge.

All in all, it wasn’t like I had expected. In fact, I learned a lot while learning to surf that day.

1. Surfing is amazing exercise. Really. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I became and how quickly it happened. Sure, I’m not the fittest person out there, and we did have a late night the night before, but still: surfing takes it out of you. There’s not only the crashing waves kicking you back every 5 seconds, and the heavy surf board to have to guide along, but you are also forced to push yourself up repeatedly from a laying to standing position. Trust me, it takes a bit of effort.

Surfers

2. Surfing is as easy as 1, 2, 3. As part of the class, we had to first become acquainted with our surf boards in the sand. I felt like we were at boot-camp as the instructor made us repeatedly practice the process of pushing ourselves up into a standing position on the board. It took three simple steps, but they don’t feel so simple after doing it about 30 times. This is more of point number one.

Still, the number counting really helped us all with timing when it came to doing it on the water.

3. I can surf! How cool is that?! On my first day of surf lessons, I became a surfer, at least for a few seconds. Everyone in the class was able to get up and ride the waves that day, which could have been from having such a great instructor (or it could have been from having giant boards). It was still thrilling to come home and tell everyone that I made it up because apparently it is the most difficult part of the game.

4. The deep blue isn’t so scary once you get out there. I think the feeling of the unknown has a way of getting the best of people. The anxiety of waiting and thinking in advance can consume you until you think doing whatever it is you’re worrying about isn’t even possible. I was comforted by the fact that I wasn’t alone, and more so by the instructor giving us a list of all the reasons we shouldn’t fear being out in the ocean.

5. You’ll want some swimwear that sticks. The instructor told us that it might happen, even with the rash vests they provided. The impact of hitting the water has a tendency to strip a girl of her swimsuit. My top definitely decided to flip up once, but luckily no one was nearby when it did. If you happen to be going surfing, I suggest a snug pair of board shorts and a stretchy top/rash vest to keep you covered.

Surfers Paradise

6. You can learn to surf in all-girl classes. If you’re a female and a little nervous about your surfing skills, you’ll be happy to know that plenty of surf companies in Australia offer classes just for the ladies. The idea of possibly learning to surf with possibly only a group of guys can seem a bit daunting.

After the lesson, I was a little saddened by the fact that I had waited so long to give it a try. I don’t own a surf board yet, but I’m definitely anxious to have another lesson and see what all I can do next time!

FYI: The Gold Coast where I took my lesson has been unaffected by the Queensland floods. You don’t have to worry if planning to book a trip in the near future.

About the Author: Brooke Schoenman is an American girl who traveled the world to finally end up an Australia expat. She writes for the WhyGo Australia travel guide, a resource where you can research your upcoming Australia travel, or even book your Gold Coast hostels.

Note: Photos are from Flickr creative commons.

  • After seeing a number of surf documentaries like Step Into Liquid and Riding Giants, I really want to learn how to surf. Even if I end up doing it poorly, it would still be a thrill.

    Now I want to learn even more, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I feel you on the exercise! I surfed once in NZ and got up no worries – I didn’t even take a lesson. To be fair, my surf board was HUGE and the waves were modest to say the least. Nonetheless, I did it!

    When I got to Bali, I was feeling quite confident with my surfing abilities. Come on.

    I got up. Without a lesson.

    I rented a 6 foot board and went out with this tiny Swedish chick I had met. She had spent about 4 weeks in Kuta learning the tricks of the trade. All I remember from the morning is watching her surf wave after wave – all the time I was just trying to paddle out past the breakers! While I’m no body-builder, I’m fit enough and was shocked at how difficult it was.

    Love the whole experience around surfing though .. can’t wait to go again!

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  • oh… I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf! I did some bodyboard as an early teen, but back where I lived, waves weren’t good for proper surfing. I shall consider Goad Coast I guess 😉

  • Yes, definitely exercise! 🙂 Even though it is tough, it’s addictive… as you know 🙂

  • Glad this could inspire you!

  • Anonymous

    You should definitely try it! It’s a great workout and it’s lots of fun!

  • Anonymous

    I’m looking forward to trying again in Australia! I went a few times in high school in Hawaii, but was never able to be around it long enough to get any good. I’d love to be able to put some time and effort into down under–especially since I know what a great workout it is!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll try out Gold Coast too and let you know how it is 🙂

  • It was fun learning to surf with you Brooke. You definitely rocked at it!

  • If I lived near a beach I would surf every single day. Looooove it!

  • Anonymous

    That’s what I’m hoping to do in Oz–if I do it every day, I have to get better, right?!

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  • Bondi Beach has a great surfing school- “Let’s Go Surfing” and Brenda is the owner, teacher… she is awesome. Tell her Jade and Bob from Vagabond3 say hi if you end up in Sydney!

  • Anonymous

    I’m flying into Sydney and I definitely want to work on my surfing ASAP, so I’ll be sure to check it out! Thanks for the rec!

  • Haha, rocked and then got rocked out 😉 Have you gone again since then?

  • Glad you enjoyed learning to surf! Also, down in Manly near where I live in Sydney there are tons of places to surf too!

  • Anonymous

    I’m looking forward to checking out the surf spots in Sydney!

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