A Beginner's Guide on How to Surf

a yellow surfboard sitting on top of a sandy beach

Camera Icon Allec Gomes / Unsplash


To get started with surfing, you'll need the following equipment:

  • Surfboard: Choose a surfboard suitable for beginners, often referred to as a "soft-top" or "foam board." These boards provide stability and buoyancy, making it easier to learn and progress.

  • Leash: Attach a leash to your ankle or leg and secure it to the tail of your surfboard. This prevents the board from drifting away when you fall off.

  • Wetsuit (optional): Depending on the water temperature, you may need a wetsuit to keep you warm during your surfing sessions.


Before heading into the water, it's important to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Know your limits: Start with small waves and gradually progress to larger ones as your skills improve. Be aware of your swimming ability and comfort level in the water.

  • Be aware of surf etiquette: Respect other surfers in the lineup by following proper surf etiquette. Understand right of way rules, wait your turn, and avoid dropping in on other surfers' waves.

  • Know the beach and surf conditions: Familiarize yourself with the beach and surf conditions before entering the water. Be aware of potential hazards, such as rocks, reefs, or strong currents.


Before catching waves, it's essential to learn proper paddling technique:

  • Lie on your board: Position yourself on the board with your chest down and your hands placed near the center of the board.

  • Paddle with your arms: Use your arms to paddle, reaching forward and pulling back through the water. Keep your elbows slightly bent and use your core muscles for stability.

  • Practice timing: Learn to time your paddling with the incoming waves. Start paddling just before the wave reaches you, so you can catch it at the right moment.

Catching Waves

Once you've mastered paddling, it's time to learn how to catch waves:

  • Spotting waves: Position yourself in the lineup and observe the incoming waves. Look for a wave that is breaking cleanly and has a smooth face suitable for beginners.

  • Timing: As you see a wave approaching, start paddling with increased speed to match the wave's momentum. Aim to be in a good position to catch the wave just before it breaks.

  • Pop-up: Once you feel the wave lifting your board, quickly transition from paddling position to standing up. Place your hands on the board and push your upper body up while bringing your back foot forward and placing it on the board.

Riding Waves

As you catch a wave and stand up, here are some tips for riding it:

  • Balance and stance: Maintain a balanced stance on your board with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly for stability and keep your gaze forward.

  • Weight distribution: Shift your weight forward or backward to control your speed and maintain balance as you ride along the wave.

  • Trimming: Adjust your body position and weight distribution to stay on the "trim" of the wave, maximizing your speed and control.

Practice and Progression

Surfing is a skill that requires practice and patience. Here are some tips for improving your surfing abilities:

  • Consistency: Surf as frequently as possible to build muscle memory and improve your overall technique.

  • Take lessons: Consider taking lessons from a qualified surf instructor who can provide guidance and help you progress faster.

  • Observe and learn: Watch experienced surfers and observe their techniques, wave selection, and positioning in the lineup. Learn from their expertise and apply it to your own surfing.

  • Have fun: Enjoy the process and embrace the joy of riding waves. Surfing is about connecting with nature and experiencing the thrill of the ocean.