Anyone who’s started to really get into a physically intense sport will know that there’s a lot to learn. Surfing is no different.

The best way to learn is in a lesson, with an experienced coach providing advice, moral support and guidance on how to improve. But what happens when you are on your own?

Getting Started

Surfing is one of those rare sports that requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It also takes a certain mindset and respect for the ocean environment that is always changing, with winds, tides and swells affecting the height, speed and shape of waves.

Lessons start on the beach where instructors will explain the rules of surfing and provide a surfboard. Then they’ll take you to the water and teach you basic maneuvers, such as how to lay down on your board, paddle, sit up and balance after standing up. They’ll also give you a crash course in wave conditions, including swell, tides, and rip currents.


The basic equipment you need for surfing is a surfboard and a wetsuit. The board should be suited to your ability level, and the wetsuit should be comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time in the sun and water temperatures that can vary significantly.

You’ll also need a leash to keep you attached to your board. It prevents you from running into other surfers or crashing your board into rocks or other obstacles. Even some experienced surfers use a leash because it helps them stay safe and focused on the wave ahead of them, sneak a peek here.

You’ll also want to invest in a good pair of surf fins. These help you move more quickly and get up on the board faster when catching a wave. Finally, don’t forget a towel — this beach-based Swiss army knife will dry you, remove sand and salt, and cover your surfboard in the sun. This will help you avoid any irritation and make your surf experience a little more stress-free.


Keeping your surfboard under control is an important safety measure. It protects other surfers who may be in the area and also protects you from flying boards that can cause injuries. Beginners should always keep a hold of their board at all times, even when they are in the water.

Falling off a surfboard is common, but beginners should learn how to land properly to avoid injury. It is best to protect your head by covering it with your arms when you fall, especially in shallow waters or if the ocean floor is made of reef or rock. Likewise, it is safer to fall flat on your back than jumping off as this will prevent you from hitting the bottom with force.

Learning surf etiquette is another essential safety measure. Beginners should never paddle into a wave that has an experienced surfer on it. This is considered rude and dangerous as it can lead to collisions and injuries.

Surf Etiquette

Surfing is a sport of freedom, but like most sports, it has its fair share of politics. The unwritten rules of surfing etiquette can be a bit confusing for a newbie and can lead to conflicts and injuries if not respected.

One of the most important rules is to stay out of the way of other surfers in the line-up. You should avoid paddling straight back to the peak of a wave, especially when another surfer is on a set, or you could get smashed by their surfboard as they make it over the lip. Instead, paddle for the shoulder or further out on the whitewater, if possible.


If you happen to drop in on someone or otherwise get in their way, apologize as soon as you can. It goes a long way in the crowded lineup and shows respect. Plus, everyone makes mistakes and has been a beginner at some point.