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Introduction to Surfing – Part One

Introduction to Surfing – Part One

Introduction to Surfing – Part One

In this introduction to surfing we cover the aspects of surfing you need to consider before you even hit the water.

 Surfing is an amazing sport and more than a sport for many. It is a way of life, a lifestyle. Surfing is no easy sport, it takes years to master, but rewarding and worth the hard work. The ocean is a dangerous place so a good level of fitness and specifically upper body strength is important. Whilst this may be obvious to most but you must also be a strong swimmer. If you are serious about surfing, then working on your upper body strength and regularly swimming long distances as well as short sprints is something you could include in your fitness regime. Most of your surfing experience will be lying on your board paddling but you do swim in ocean waters with currents and rip tides so work on that swimming.

Basic Training

As we have mentioned surfing is a dangerous sport and as a beginner it is important that you are introduced to surfing and the water by an experienced instructor that understands what you need to know.

Knowing basic safety and CPR would also be a great skill to have as a surfer. If ever anything goes wrong, you will be well equipped to handle it.

Next thing you need to learn is how to assess the conditions and the weather to understand if it is safe for you to surf. This sets a strong foundation for a long safe surfing career. Understanding how the waves are formed and how the weather out at sea and on the coast affects the waves and how the day may develop.

Your Surf spot

Knowing how the waves at your surf spot are formed is important to understand where and when you should and should surf.

 Point Breaks – Point breaks are great for surfers, they create long tapering curls that go on for hundreds of meters. One of the world’s most famous point breaks is Jeffereys Bay, South Africa. A point break occurs where the coast is not straight and there is a contour or a dip in the land when cause the water to break causing a wave to break and the perfect conditions to create that picturesque barrel.


 Reefbreaks or shore break – Reef or shore breaks occur when the water is forced up by a reef or a rock formation. These can be seriously powerful waves and absolutely not for beginners. One of the best reef breaks is Teahupoo in Tahiti. One of my favourite pieces is by an artist called Phil Roberts called Kelly Slater at Teahupoo in Tahiti.


Beachbreaks – Beachbreaks occur when waves break over the uneven sandy bottom of the ocean floor. These are really good for beginners as, although they can be ever changing, there are commonly less hazards in the water for surfers to become injured on like rocks and sharp coral.


Next important step is to understand the currents. Currents can be very dangerous and seriously underestimated. They can also be very useful once you are confident you can identify them and understand how to use them to your advantage.

There two main types of currents:

Longshore Currents – These are currents that run parallel to the shore. They can cause surfers and swimmers to drift down shore into hazards. Be vary of longshore currents when drifting toward rocks or inaccessible coastline due to cliffs other hazards. Ensure you maintain visibility on where you entered and want to exit the water.

Rip Currents – Rip currents are very important to understand. They occur due to the large volumes of water being pushed up onto the shore. The water moves aside and the pushes back out to sea in a funnel or almost like a river flowing. Often longshore close to the shore currents lead into rip currents. Rip currents are identifiable as it will cut through the surf and the waves moving toward the shore. If you watch where the white water is breaking along the wave and suddenly there is a gap and then the white break continues there is likely a rip current in this place.

*It is important to know how to escape from a rip current. If you try to swim against a rip tide you will eventually tire and still be carried away from the shore. As the rip currents move in a funnel shape, you should swim parallel to the shore to exit the side of the rip current. *

Waves types

Ok so that the word for snow to the Eskimos is like asking a surfer to name a wave (Eskimo being one of them). For this reason, as a beginner, we will only go as far as warn you what waves you should watch out for and what you should not surf.


Beginner waves – These are mushy, slow rolling waves caused due to the gradual contour of the land, usually formed by sand banks or the waves from a point on a mild day.




Advanced Waves – When the contour of the land drops off steeply the wave created when the swell moves from deeper waters the shallow coastlines can cause quick forming wave. These can be dangerous due to their sheer speed and usually not for beginners.

Tides and Flags, Instruction and Safety

Ensure you know you understand and know when the tides are coming in and out. A google search nowadays will give you up to date information. Consideration must also be given to the flags on the beach. It is vital that you understand these so if you are unsure then ask a lifeguard, if there is one present.

As stated above it is really important to understand that surfing is a really dangerous sport and proper instruction should be sought in order to learn the basics under controlled and safe conditions. The sea is an ever changing environment and huge respect for its power is a must.

Knowing basic safety and CPR would also be a great skill to have as a surfer. If ever anything goes wrong, you will be well equipped to handle it.

Always wear your leash when on the board. Although it is not a life raft, becoming separated from your board is not nice. It will happen at some point so being a strong swimmer is important. Most are quick release nowadays which is also recommended.


If you have got the bug and are now watching surfing videos none stop on Youtube you might be tempted to go out and buy a little pointed short board but the reality is that you will not be able to surf it. Hopefully your instructor will guide you as to the right type of board you should buy. Perhaps as a beginner you can just rent a board until you are more serious and want to go off and surf in other places. If the water is cold like it is in the UK a wetsuit is a must.

Finally, the end. We hope that you enjoyed BigAdventureMap’s ‘Introduction to Surfing – Part One.’ That was a lot of information to take in and we haven’t even hit the water yet. We hope that you learn something from this and it keeps you safe when hitting the waves this summer.

Find you local surf school

Our Big Adventure Map family is growing and more and more surf schools are added all the time. check out Surfing.

We have a number of Surf Camps to check out too.

Check out my Instagram for more paragliding adventures… @TheParaglider 

Feedback is always welcome so feel free to reach out (Contact) or comment below!

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