· Choose a good beginners area
Just like ski spots have bunny slopes, the surf world has waves for beginners; Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Tamarindo in Costa Rica, or Tourmaline in Southern California are three excellent starters. Check out a few more in our earlier article. You should look for easy breaking waves, plenty of room to spread out and a forgiving bottom surface.
· Bigger is better
Learning to surf on a longboard (usually 8-9 feet long) is much easier than the speedy and sharp-nosed short boards. Save the short boards for advanced surfers who need maneuverability. You need stability.
· Don’t turn your back on the ocean
Waves come in sets of three to four, usually followed by a lull of a few minutes with smaller or no waves. A rookie mistake is facing the shore while waiting for the next set. If and when you do, you may be too far in when the set arrives and you’ll get caught in the crushing whitewater of the waves. Face the horizon and keep looking around to stay aware of your surroundings.
· Give in to playtime
If you haven’t spent much time in the ocean, give yourself some time to swim around in the waves and bodysurf. Leave the board on the beach and feel the way the waves push and pull. It’s easier to pay attention to what the waves are doing when you’re not concerned about wrangling your surfboard.
· Know the code
There is a “surfer’s code” comprised of many unwritten rules that apply in the water. The surfer’s code protects the safety of everyone involved and ensures fairness based on seniority. A few of the more important guidelines include:
1. Paddle wide around the wavesnot through themon your way back out so you’re not in the path of surfers.
2. If someone is already on the wave, it’s their wave. Don’t catch the same wave and get in front of them, that’s called snaking.
3. Don’t hog the waves. Share. Smile. It’s called the Aloha spirit.
The best thing about surfing is it’s fun from day one! Don’t worry about riding the tube, or perfecting a roundhouse cutback. Just stand up, yell “Woo-hoo” and enjoy the ride!
About the author: Matt Thomson is the founder of Wavecation.com, a portal that helps both beginner and experienced surfers find the best surf vacation rentals and beachfront hotels around the world. Basically Wavecation shows exactly how close you'll be to the waves. You can follow him on both Twitter and Facebook.
[Photos: Matt Thomson/Wavecation]