Surf Lessons - The What, Where, and How...


Surf Lessons - The What, Where, and How...

Beginners guide to picking the right surf instructor

PJ Manning
PJ Manning

Whether you're looking to give surf lessons or get surf lessons, it's important to have a clear understanding on what to expect...

Surf lessons aren't your standard sports training lesson for a few reasons.

We've narrowed it down to the 3 biggest reasons for both surf lesson instructors and people looking for surf lessons...

  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Ambiguity

Quality - Surf Lessons

Whenever choosing a service, your first judgment will be on the quality and pricing of the service.

Choosing a surf training provider is no different than choosing your homes next general contractor. 

...And it's just as difficult.

There are just as many people out there offering surf lessons as contracting services and the quality is VASTLY different.

So here are some tips we have on how to distinguish a quality surf lesson from a shit one...

  1. What's their experience? (i.e. for how long and how many customers have they given surf lessons to)
  2. Are they affiliated with a quality surf shop or have a web presence?
  3. Do they have any certifications? (surf, safety, etc.)

Qualities of a Good Surf Instructor - experience for 2+ years or over 30+ clients, work through a busy/popular surf shop in town or have their own surf instructor business with website and reviews, have 2/3 certifications (safety, ISA, etc.)

Examples of a Bad Surf Instructor - been surfing for a few years, haven't traveled much, taught less than 30 clients so far, only have a flyer or ad somewhere with no affiliation, no certifications

Now - we're not saying that a surf instructor that isn't affiliated or have their own business is automatically a bad surf trainer.  It's just a good rule of thumb to follow.  Also, if you're just beginning don't necessarily think you have to pay top dollar for a surf lesson from the best surfer in town.  Often times the best surfers won't be the best instructors - they'll be good for intermediate to advanced lessons but may have forgotten the time when they were first learning.  So it's not necessarily a bad idea to get lessons from someone who's only been surfing for 5+ years.

Safety - Surf Lessons

Safety is the next thing you'll probably consider when booking your next surf lesson (well #1 priority if you're looking to book for a child).  If you're looking to book a lesson for your own child, I would say first and foremost it's 100% a priority for them to have CPR and First Aid certifications.  These certs are not hard to attain and if a quality surf instructor hasn't gone through the few days to get these certs - well...they're just lazy and don't care...not someone you want looking after your kids.

The next thing I'd look into - which isn't as important but definitely a benefit - is if the surf trainer is an ISA Certified Surf Coach.

An ISA instructor should follow a step by step process of learning everything to get you enjoying surfing.  That means learning about ocean safety, currents, etiquette, etc.  Again, this isn't a 100% tell-all, but in general, we'd recommend at the minimum giving an ISA certified surf lesson a try.

Ambiguity - Surf Lessons

The final criteria when assessing a surf lesson is a bit difficult.

Surfers and surf culture has a lot of care-free vibes and maybe not the type of work ethic you're used to.  So sometimes it may be difficult to distinguish who or where really gives the best surf lessons.  The person/company trying the hardest may be a total fraud, while the solo, laid-back, local boy may be a surf-teaching master.

In this case, we always recommend before booking a surf lesson to ask around town.  Find out who knows your surf instructor, find out who most people recommend.  If you ask enough people - the same name should pop up multiple times with people raving about their skills.  If you haven't heard that yet - stay skeptical.

Conclusion About Surf Lessons

Remember when looking around for surf lessons, whether it be your first or to get to the next level, try to keep these 3 criteria in mind.  As for pricing - it may be a bit difficult but anything over $50/hr for a beginner lesson is a bit much.  Intermediate to advanced can be expected to charge a higher rate for surf lessons.

Once you find that perfect surf training instructor - remember one thing: have fun ;)