The best places to learn how to surf all have some important characteristics in common: warm water, soft waves, easy access and loads of expert help.
If you think it’s too late to learn to surf, think again. A quick trip to any of these spots and you’ll be hooked in no time.
I know what you are thinking: Trying to learn to surf in one of the most infamously dangerous surf zones on the planet doesn’t sound like a particularly safe (or sound) idea.
However, we are not advocating that you rent a board and paddle out at Pipeline for your first foray into surfing. At Waikiki, on the protected, south side of Oahu, there are loads of waves that are designed specifically for beginners to fall in love with surfing. The main breaks of Queens and Canoes provide long, mushy waves over a forgiving reef.
As the birthplace of modern surfing, Waikiki offers options for board rentals and loads of lessons on the beach. Plus, there’s never a need for a wetsuit.
Most importantly, when you get home, you can tell your friends you tamed the wild waves of Hawaii.
Surfer’s Point, Barbados
Learning to surf with sea turtles has to be a good thing, right?
At Surfer’s Point, located at Inch Marlowe on Barbados’ protected southern coast, you’ll be sharing the fun, easy left-handers with fellow novices, turtles and annoyingly good 7-year-olds.
The waves break all year round, in warm water with a tropical setting. One of the main problems will be returning home to expand your newfound skills under normal surf environments.
The endpoint of the annual European sojourn south for surfers from the colder northern climates, the Moroccan town of Taghazout has been a mini hippie surf city since the early 1970s. It offers a mix of easy beachbreaks (only a short walk from town) and more challenging sand-bottom points just up the road.
It seems like half of all Scandinavian (and about a third of German) surfers learned to surf in the waves of Taghazout, and a large learn-to-surf industry is made up of slick operators. They’ll guarantee you as much Moroccan tea as you can handle, and that you’ll be standing up by the end of your lesson.
Aim for early autumn, rather than high winter, as the waves are smaller and the weather is warmer.
Nosara, Costa Rica
Slightly more protected than some of the other well-known Costa Rican surf spots, the town of Nosara has easily accessible beachbreaks within a short walk of a variety of accommodations.
Numerous credentialed surf schools offer great, all-inclusive packages and there’s a mellow vibe with friendly locals (which is not always a given at other surf spots).
On down days (or when your shoulders are sore), head to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, which is famous for its olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations.
Byron Bay, Australia
It’s impossible to go to Byron Bay and not learn to surf. This northern New South Wales town is located on Australia’s most easterly point and picks up all available swell. It offers north- and south-facing coasts on either side of the lighthouse-topped headland, meaning wind direction is never a problem.
The water is warm year-round, and you can choose from empty beachbreaks or more crowded sand-bottom points, like The Pass. There are numerous surf schools catering to the endless stream of international tourists, and even more pubs and clubs to cater to the post-surf thirst.
None of the schools will mention the sharks, and so neither will we.