In this article “6 best surf camps for beginners destinations”  we are going to explore some of the worlds best surf destinations for beginners.

Before we started Swell in the Caribbean in 2009 we operated a surf travel agency and that gave us the chance to visit over 25+ surf destinations to see what the surf conditions were like, so we have a pretty good idea of the different surfing conditions in the various surf destinations listed below.

beginner surf camp

But first, we need to have a look at what makes a good or best surf destination.

There is no such thing as one destination that ticks all the boxes. For one, someone who is in the early stages of their surf career is looking for a very different type of wave than a seasoned pro.

In this article, we focus on a region that has ideal learn to surf conditions for complete beginners.
We could have included more countries and regions on the list, but we have focussed on what we consider the best destinations.
Next month we will also feature 6 surf destinations for intermediate surfers.






best surf camp for beginners




Dominican surf campWHERE IS IT LOCATED: Largest island In the Caribbean, the North coast faces the Atlantic, the south coast faces the Caribbean.


GETTING THERE: Short direct flight from Miami or 3-hour flight from New York and Toronto. Charter flights from Europe


FOCUS SURF REGION: The north coast, 20 minutes from Puerto Plata international airport.


dr learn to surf holiday

What makes it a great surf destination for beginners:
We are biased since this is where we opened Swell in 2009, but we did so for a reason: we wanted a place where we can teach people to surf in a safe way. Playa Encuentro is the ideal spot, it has 350 surfable days in the year, with mellow reform waves on the inside breaking over a flat reef, deep enough to stand in the water (around chest high), easy access to the beach, no dangerous current or sea life. We have taught 5000+ guests over 10 years the sport of surfing.
There is no dangerous sea life present, nor are there dangerous rips or currents present. All this make it one of the best places for a learn to surf camp for beginners.
BEST TIME TO GO: any time of the year

More info: See this website


  • Pretty white sand beaches, lined with palm trees.
  • Friendly Caribbean vibes, in and out of the water.
  • Budget-friendly
  • Close to an international airport
  • Warm tropical climate and water


  • Midday trade winds mean at times it gets too windy to surf after 13.00






Where is it located: In the middle of Central America. 2 coastlines, the West coast faces the Pacific, the east coast faces the Caribbean


Focus surf region: Pacific region of Guanacaste




What makes Costa Rica a great surf destination for beginners:
We have spent a lot of time in Costa Rica between 2014 and 2017. The waves in Nosara and Tamarindo offer a great playground for people new to the sport of surfing, and there are plenty of surf schools and surf camps in this area of Costa Rica.
Mostly sand bottom beach breaks make learning to surf in Costa Rica safe.

Best time to go: Smaller waves between November and March

costa rica surf camp


  • Safe country to visit in Central America
  • Plenty of surf camps and surf schools to choose from
  • Pretty beaches and wildlife


  • The most expensive country to visit in the region, expect North American prices
  • Domestic travel from San Jose international airport takes time and money
  • BBusy in the surf



Where is it located: Southeast Asia, north-west of Australia, Indonesia consists of 17,500 islands, of which Bali is one of them.


Focus surf region: West coast of Bali, between Seminyak in the north to Uluwatu in the south




What makes Bali one of the best surf destinations for beginners:
Having spent the last  4 years living here and having built our 2nd surf resort here, it’s no surprise that we love Bali and think it’s one of the best surf destinations in the world. It is actually one of the few places where surfers of all levels are happy spending their surf holiday. For beginners, the beaches of Seminyak, Kuta, Bingin and Baby Padang are ideal for someone who has never surfed before.

In 2021 Swell has opened it’s door to a new Swell Bali Surf camp

bali surf camps


Best time to go:  Any time of the year.
More info:


  • Close to Denpasar international airport
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great Balinese culture
  • Ideal surf conditions
  • Warm tropical climate and water



  • Kuta region traffic can be a nightmare
  • Air travel from Europe and North America is lengthy, although once landed at Bali it is a short trip to the surf beaches.

Video of Bali



portugal surf destinationWhere is it located: Southwest corner of Europe, bordering Spain to the east.


Focus surf region: South Western tip of the Algarve and Alentejo


What makes Portugal one of the best surf destinations for beginners:
A mild climate makes Portugal a great places to visit for about 9 months of the year where the outside air temperature is  20° Celcius (69° Fahrenheit). Lots of open beach breaks mean there are not many days where the surf is too small to learn to surf.
A large variety of surf camps in schools catering for people between 18 and 24 years old.

Most teaching is done by qualified surf instructors

learn to surf in portugal

More info: coming soon



  • Lots of budget hostel style surf camps  in Portugal to choose from
  • European culture


  • For most of the year, you have to wear a full wetsuit since the water is chilly
  • In the summer months of July and August, the beaches get very crowded



england surf school

Where is it located: SW tip of England.


Focus surf region: Cornwall


What makes Cornwall a great place for learning to surf
Cornwall has some of the most stunning beaches and coves of England ( and even Europe). Being well exposed to the Atlantic ocean means that Cornwall gets plenty of waves. White sandy beaches make it a great place for your first surf lessons.


surf school cornwall

One of the surf school companies that we can highly recommend is Cornish Wave. Owned and operated by Jorrin, who also worked at Swell for a winter.

Highly professional, knowledgeable and friendly!
More info: Cornish Wave


  • Stunning scenery
  • Sandy beaches
  • Friendly locals


  • Expensive destination
  • Busy in European summer months

Video of Cornwall




top surf camps

Where is it located: Easter tip of Australia


Focus surf region: North coast of NSW


What makes Byron Bay a great place for learning to surf?

Byron Bay has stunning white sandy beaches with a large variety of different surf breaks. There are a good amount of different surf schools to choose from. And if you are between 20 and 30 years old there’s a variety of different hostels/backpackers to choose from. If you want private accommodation, there are some very good hotels.

best surf camps



  • Sandy beaches
  • variety of different surf spots
  • Great beach culture


  • Busy year round

Video of Byron bay


We hope you enjoyed our “Best Surf Camps For Beginners” list. Next month we are focussing on surf camp destinations for intermediate and advanced surfers.

If you have any questions about this article and want to join us in the Dominican Republic for a unique surf holiday:  do send us a message!

beginner surf camp




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learning to surf at an older age


If you are over 50 and considering learning to surf, you might be concerned that you’re too late to the game.

The fact that you will struggle to master the necessary skills, that you will appear foolish, and that all of the other younger, fitter surfers would laugh at your inexperience and slowness and ignore you, are all reasonable concerns.

This, however, is not the case.

surfing green waves


Is it possible to learn to surf at the age of 50? Or Older?
Yes, as long as you have a reasonable level of physical fitness and flexibility. Learning to surf is primarily a matter of persistence, so if you’re ready to keep trying, you can learn to surf at that age.

Consider signing up for a beginner’s surf lesson, getting in shape, improving your swimming skills, selecting the perfect surfboard, and avoiding comparing yourself to others if you’re over 50 and want to learn to surf. You’ll be out there enjoying those waves before you know it!

Surfing has no age restrictions, and it’s never too late to start (even if you’re past 50!)


  • Keep in shape,
  • Improve your mood,
  • Push yourself,
  • Feel younger for longer.
  • Meet new people

This comprehensive guide will help you learn to surf at 50. It has been compiled to answer your questions and provide support along the process. I’ll go over some of the advantages of this enjoyable outdoor activity and provide a step-by-step tutorial to get you started.

Tips on how to learn to surf aged  50 years or older.

learn to surf at 50


Surfing is physically hard at any age, but especially so as you become older.

You’ll need to use your entire body to manage your weight as you paddle out, pop up on your board, and ride those waves. You’ll also be out for extended periods, so you’ll need plenty of stamina to be safe.

As a result, you should begin by increasing your physical activity and improving your fitness. The more physically fit you are, the easier it will be to learn to surf.

To be clear, you don’t need to be in marathon shape when you’re initially learning, but every little bit helps. Here are some suggestions:

Improve your cardiovascular fitness. Take long walks, begin running, ride your bike, or even run around with your children.

Put a premium on functional strength. If you want to keep control, you’ll need good core strength and good arm power for paddling.

Keep in mind to stretch. Stretching, flexibility, and balance should be part of your daily routine to avoid injury and improve your surfing skills.

Most of these surfing workouts may be done from the convenience of your own home. Simply go to YouTube, and you’ll find a plethora of online workouts that will help you get in shape quickly.
Read this article on surf fitness to get started.


While you can certainly teach yourself to surf, it’s so much easier and progress a lot quicker when you use the help of a local surf school or surf camp.

For beginners aged 50 and up, these can be invaluable because they give you confidence in your developing talents while also assisting you in improving your technique. You’ll also learn the proper surf ethics and gain a deeper understanding of the water.



If you don’t know how to swim, turn off your computer right now and enrol in some swimming classes. Seriously! If you’re not a great swimmer, there’s no way you’ll be able to stay safe in the ocean.

It is essential to keep in mind that the water is a massive force.

Because waves and currents can be powerful, and sea conditions can change in the blink of an eye, putting you in danger, knowing how to swim is essential. You must be capable enough to look after yourself and get to safety.

Because you’ll be starting in relatively shallow water, you don’t need to be a particularly great swimmer to begin. It is, nevertheless, necessary if you wish to proceed beyond the beginning stage.

Swimming in the ocean as much as possible will help you become a better swimmer. This will provide more authentic conditions than simply going to your local pool, and it will give you more confidence in ‘wild swimming.’

learn to surf at an older age


When you first begin, make sure you select the appropriate surfboard for a beginner like yourself.

Look for longer, thicker, and wider boards because they provide the most stability and make learning easier. Surfing beyond 40 or 50 is best learned on larger boards like 9 feet + beginner soft top surfboards. More info on beginner surfboards is detailed in this article. 

Avoid smaller boards as much as possible; they are more difficult to manage and can lower your confidence when you first begin. Your local surf shop can assist you in determining the suitable size and shape of a surfboard for your needs and abilities.


I know it is easy to say so rather than act, but you must avoid comparing your surfing abilities to others.

So, what if you’re in a group surf session and someone in your class can show there in 5 minutes, but you’re still having trouble an hour later? Maybe he or she has already learned to surf and is just brushing up on their skills. Perhaps they’re naturally sporty, whereas you’ve spent the last few years lazing on the couch.

Everyone is on their own individual path.

If you want to feel proud of yourself instead of comparing yourself to others, remember that you came up and took the risk of learning to surf at a time when many others would not.

Concentrate on your own game, be proud of your drive and dedication, and work hard to reap the rewards.

If you haven’t already, take benefit of the opportunity to learn to surf. You’ll notice a variety of mental and physical health benefits as soon as you begin.

What are the advantages of learning to surf at the age of 50+?

Learning to surf will change your life for the better, especially if you are over 50 years old. Check out below a few of the reasons behind this:

1. Surfing is a terrific way to stay in shape while having a good time and no more sweating it out for hours on machines in a dark, dingy gym! You’ll be outside, feeling the rush, inhaling in the fresh air while also getting in shape. Awesome.

2. Surfing is a fantastic cardio workout. All of that paddling, popping up, and riding will get your blood pumping, your heart pumping, and your body in terrific form.

surfing holiday

3. Surfing is a fantastic chance to meet new people. When you’re over 50, it’s more difficult to expand your social group. On the other hand, Surfing makes you part of a close-knit group that will keep an eye on you and is there for you when you need it.

4. Surfing aids in the prevention of aches and pains. You will become stronger overall, your joints will become less achy, and you will become more flexible if you engage in regular exercise such as surfing. If you have to sit at your desk all day or have been groaning as you stand up recently, this is the perfect remedy!

5. Surfing is excellent for improving your coordination. When you learn to surf, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your motor skills. If you participate in other sports, this will pay off handsomely and help you age more gracefully.

6. Surfing is a fantastic way to improve your mood. All of that natural daylight exposure, fresh air, exercise, and community spirit will get your endorphins flowing, raise your mood, and, according to some studies, may even help to alleviate your depression and stress.

Don’t let your age stop you from learning to surf. The average age of clients at Swell on a learn to surf holiday is 38. This means we get plenty of people in their 50’s and 60’s that join us.

Want an example:

Clare, one of the owners of Swell Surf Camp was never very interested in learning to surf, then at 52 decided it was time to get in the water and learn surfing. Now she goes for a surf with her surf friends whenever she has a chance. This is Clare 3 years after  her first surf sessions, aged 56 (see the smile on her face)

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for surf lessons at your local surf beach, or join us in the warm and mellow waves of the Dominican Republic for a life-changing surf holiday


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s people the basics of surfing.


Swell offers full surf packages holidays

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?


dr learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding!

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surfing unbroken waves



Learn how to discover, catch, and stay on unbroken “green” waves by positioning yourself correctly in the line-up.

surfing green waves


This article will provide you with a basic understanding of better position yourself to catch green waves. It covers the fundamentals of paddling into an unbroken wave and “sticking” on these “green waves” without nose-diving, passing over the wave, or becoming caught on top of it.

Keep in mind that this is one of the most difficult skills to master as a beginner surfer. Nothing can ever take the place of practice. The longer time you spend in the water and the more waves you attempt to catch, the better.

The theory presented in this article will supplement your practice and, in most cases, will speed up your progress and save you a lot of time and frustration.


Positioning & where to sit

How to locate and position yourself to catch a long green wave:
1. Recognize the various stages of a wave

stages of surfing waves

It is only a bump in the road. At this point, catching this wave is impossible. This lump is merely a forewarning that a wave is on its way.

This is the place to look for a “green wave.” This waveform is great for paddling because it is unbroken and has the right strength and steepness. You can’t catch at phase 1  because it isn’t steep enough, and phase 3 is too vertical for you to take off. ( better surfers with shortboards can take off here)

The peak of the wave has arrived. On the flat water, the lip is already beginning to crash down. The wave is too big and steep to catch at this point, especially for inexperienced surfers.

The wave has broken and has turned into a whitewater wave.

Real-world example of the different phases of waves

where to surf


Prepare for a Green Wave by putting yourself in the right place.

Sit around 4 to 5 meters (15 feet) away from the majority of the waves.


The reason for this is that if you are waiting at a specific location where a large number of waves are breaking, the moment you turn around and paddle for a wave, you will either be catching a white water wave that has already broken, or you will be getting the wave crashing on top of you.

take off surfing



A good spot to take off, not too mellow / not too steep.

What is the status of the more experienced surfers? They probably know more about where to sit in line than you do.

This does not imply that you should sit next to them and wait for their waves. It’s merely a guide to help you figure out how far out you should paddle.
Where to sit is also variable on a couple of different aspects:

  • The paddle fitness of the surf (how fast can he/she paddle)
  • What kind of board the surfer is riding (longboards can catch ‘flatter’ waves more easily than shortboards.

Beginner surfers are frequently found sitting much further out from the wave than more experienced surfers. This doesn’t make much sense; either the waves aren’t breaking as far out that day, or they aren’t breaking at all.

In other words, if you see waves breaking a long distance away from where the expert surfers are sitting, this indicates that it is an “unusual” and larger set of waves (which you most likely do not want to catch as a beginner surfer!).

Look for lumps on the horizon. A “phase 1” wave that will transition into a “phase  2” wave roughly 3 to 5 meters behind you is what you’re searching for.
Choose a wave, turn around, and paddle for at least 8 hard strokes. You should paddle hard enough to keep up with the wave’s pace as it transitions from “Phase 1” to “phase 2.”


When paddling for a wave, look behind your shoulder. Taking a couple of glances behind you is the only way to determine whether you need to paddle more, paddle less, or even stop paddling for a short period, depending on the shape of the wave.

It also prevents you from “dropping in” on individuals (for further information on what this means, see “Surf Ethics”). If you glance behind you, you’ll be able to tell if the wave was too steep (phase 3), too weak (phase 1), or just right (phase 2), and hence why you failed or succeeded in catching an unbroken wave.

Many inexperienced surfers fail to look back at the wave and end up paddling incorrectly. They either get smashed by the wave or catch a white water wave. Without looking back and understanding what happened, you will never be able to learn from your mistakes.

surfing unbroken waves

It will be easier to catch unbroken waves if you have a larger board.

Paddling fast enough to match the speed of a wave is the key to catching “green waves.” You will spring up and surf faster if you can “capture the momentum” of the wave. Green waves are easier to catch on big boards than on small boards because they paddle faster.

Because they move around a lot, better surfers catch more waves. If you notice a lump in the horizon, consider whether it is a larger wave that will break further out to sea or a smaller wave that will break closer to shore.

It will get easier to paddle around and position yourself to catch unbroken waves the more experience you gain in reading waves. The more proactive you are, the more likely you will be to catch waves. See “How to Read Waves” for additional information on wave reading.

Catch and “Stick” on a wave that isn’t broken.
White water waves differ from unbroken waves in the following ways:

The force of a whitewater wave pushes you forward. You might catch whitewater waves during your first sessions when you first start surfing. Because the momentum of the broken white water wave drives you forward, white water waves are very easy to catch.

Most whitewater waves may be caught without even paddling.

surfing green waves

Gravity is the force that creates an unbroken “Green” water wave. The first thing you need to know about catching and “sticking” on green waves is that the white water does not “push” you ahead. Gravity is the force that allows you to enter the wave. You must imagine yourself paddling down a moving “slope.”

How to “stick” to the unbroken wave without getting swept away?
Long, forceful, and deep strokes should be used when paddling. This is especially critical when catching waves that aren’t broken.

When paddling, you must give everything you have, especially when you feel your surfboard’s tail rise: this is a crucial moment to “Stick” on it.

The way you stand on your surfboard is crucial. As we saw in the How to Paddle on a surfboard article, excellent paddling technique is achieved through precise paddle strokes and optimal body placement on the surfboard.

When your chest is exactly centred on the width of the surfboard, and you are at the correct height, you are in the correct position on the surfboard. Place your body high enough on the board so that the nose is about 3-6 centimetres (1-2 inches) out of the water while keeping your head up (imagining a soccer ball between your chin and the surfboard).

surfing unbroken waves

Your head and upper shoulders are likely to weigh 45 pounds (20 kilograms) or more! Consider how much of a difference it makes when you drop your head and bring it closer to the surfboard when you’re pulled up on a wave. This allows you to catch, stick, and descend the “slope” that is moving forward.

Many kids become accustomed to being pushed into unbroken waves by their trainers, which is beneficial for practice. When you’re pushed, however, you don’t have to lower your head to put weight on the front of your surfboard. If you’re disappointed because it’s difficult to catch green waves without the help of a surf coach, remember that shifting your weight towards the surfboard is the key to catching unbroken waves on your own.

It would help if you popped up at around 2/3 of the height of the wave. Once you feel your tail lift and you believe you have gained enough speed to continue gliding with the wave, give two final paddle strokes, place your hands on the board beside your pectoral muscles, curve your back, and jump!



Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.


The Caribbean: On the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?


dr learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding!

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surfing retreat



learn surfing older age


Surfing is an incredibly demanding sport for both body and mind. Not only are you pushing yourself physically, but you have to concentrate and focus on reading the ocean at all times to catch the best waves. That’s why being in the know about surf-specific fitness can make all the difference between getting out the back nice and easy, or getting a big set on your head, rag-dolling all the way back to shore. With this surf blog, we hope to give you the tips that bring you that little bit closer to being physically fit to ace your next surf session.


This guide is aimed towards beginner surfers, weekend warriors and those whose sessions are few and far between. When learning to surf, the first few times when you come out of the water after a surf, you might not even be able to get your suit off because your arms are jelly from all the paddling. Sheer exhaustion, we’ve all been there!

If you’re planning a surf holiday or surf camp stay this summer, this article gives you the tools to physically prepare for it. We’ll talk about the main muscles used in the different actions and movements of surfing and explain how to train and stretch them for better surfing performance.

Fitness The Basics: Paddle, Pop-Up, Body Position

There are three main stages in the process of catching a wave. First is the paddle, an explosive movement with the arms. Next is the pop-up, using the upper body to lift ourselves enough to bring the legs into our stance position. And finally, once we are on the wave we use our legs, core and upper body to stabilise and create momentum on the wave-face (pumping) and to perform maneuvers.
Which Muscles Do We Use When Surfing?

It’s pretty safe to say that you use most of the muscles in your body when you surf, some more than others and some in different ways. The main muscle group we use when paddling is the upper back ones. This provides us with the power needed to accelerate up to a similar speed of the wave itself. It is usually only a few strokes on each arm before popping up. In other words, it is a strength and power move, which we can train to its fullest potential. Our shoulders are also used in the rotary motion of the move but generally only start to burn after a long paddle out, so endurance is the main factor for this set of muscles. The triceps get a good workout with duck diving and with the pop-up, as do the chest muscles. Again, the pop up is an explosive move so we can train our muscles to perform this more effectively. And finally, when we’re up and riding on the wave face, we use the core (in all planes) and legs for stabilisation and movement. 

Training for surf fitness
Training to go on holiday… Really? Every season, we hear a few guests say something like: “I wish I came on this trip in better shape.”

The amount of preparation you want to do is up to you and depends on your current fitness level and your objectives for the surf retreat. We often have guests that really look forward to either progress their technique or surf 3 or 4 hours every day since they don’t have access to quality waves back home. Here are a few tips if you feel your fitness level could limit you on your next trip.

Surfing &/or Swimming
The best way to be physically ready for a surf trip is… to surf! Even though you run, ride a bike, go to the gym weekly, etc. You might not be training your body in the most effective way to prepare for a surf trip. A significant part of surfing is paddling. Even if the waves at home aren’t great, just getting out there for a paddle will train the muscles needed for paddling. Don’t have waves at home? See the paragraph below on swimming.

If you can’t surf at home, the second-best option is to go swimming at your local pool. In the last 4 to 6 weeks before your surf trip, try swimming at least twice per week. Don’t worry about your swimming speed. Try to find your rhythm and do laps for a total of 20 minutes or more if you can (stop between laps when needed). Very important: use the “freestyle” technique (also known as the “front crawl”).

Stretching &/or Yoga
Mobility is essential for surfing, for both performance and to limit the risk of injuries. Stretching poses that focus on your back, shoulders, arms, hamstrings and hips are often the most recommended. Guests over 40 often struggle with their pop-ups if their hips are too tight. Core strength is key for surfing and yoga can be a great way to build it, although it is not always for everyone.

The more you feel that you can move freely, the better. Especially for your hips (for pop-ups) and shoulders (for paddling).

Training & Cardio
Sit-ups, squats, burpees, push-ups… Those are basic exercises that will build core, shoulder, arm and leg strength and endurance. Training these muscles will help you catch more waves and surf for longer sessions. Every guest has their own fitness level and body type. You or a fitness coach that knows you personally will know what exercises you need to focus on most, how many sets, reps and rest suit you, etc. For cardio, you could consider going for a run or a bike ride.

According to the HHS, adults should aim to get 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. If you do not reach these targets, it would be a good idea to try to start training at least 4 weeks before your trip. The more significant improvement in strength or endurance you are looking for, the more time you will need (sometimes 12 weeks or more are preferable).

More ideas for training on our Magazine:

Eating healthy is obviously important and complementary to exercising if you either want to feel energized, lose fat or build muscle before your trip.

It’s about finding balance…
Surfing is a sport that requires both a good amount of strength and mobility. For example when you paddle hard to catch a wave or when you push up to pop up, you need shoulder and arm strength. You also need fluidity to be able to slide your legs under your chest during pop up, when you twist your body during carves, etc. It’s a good idea to aim for balance. If, for example, you go to the gym often and feel that you are quite strong but not very flexible, focus on mobility exercises. If you think you are already quite flexible, focus on strength conditioning.


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

Age? Well the average age of a Swell client is 39

Swell offer 2 exciting places for learn to surf holidays:

The Caribbean: On the North coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding…regardless of your age!

Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

If you like this article about learning to surf after 40 you might also like the following articles.

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Learning to surf after 40



The title of this post reads ‘learning to surf after 40’ but could easily read ‘learning to surfer after 50, 60 and upward’

learn surfing older age


‘Surfing? But you’re 42 years old’ – even if nobody actually says this, it’s something that plagues the mind when looking at activities synonymous with a younger crowd. If you think surfing is only suitable for young, athletic types, think again because plenty of people start in their 30s, 40s, and even beyond.

For us, we completely agree and believe you should be able to start surfing at any age if it’s what you really want to do. Who cares about the number tied to your name? If you feel as though you can do it, why not give it a go? Even if you aren’t quite as flexible as you were many years ago, this shouldn’t ever stop you from enjoying the ocean and reaping the many health benefits surfing can bring.

Today, we want to provide anyone interested with an introduction to surfing and why you can start at any age. As a sport with no physical contact, unlike football and rugby, it’s actually suited towards those who want to prevent impact injuries. What’s more, you can enjoy plenty of health benefits while getting to know new people. Even after this, there’s something to be said for surfing’s impact on the brain. With surfing, you’ll be physically active and your mind will also get a workout as you try to navigate the waves that seem determined to knock you over.


Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about surfing at all if it wasn’t fun and this is something else to consider. Sure, you might get knocked over once or twice but it’s all in the name of fun (right?).


Ever woken up on a Sunday morning and tried to find things to do to avoid the gym? Even the washing and ironing are better options for some. If so, you aren’t alone because continually doing the same things in the gym can get rather boring. Thankfully, surfing still offers a cardiovascular workout but every single session will be a thrill and it’ll be different to the last. Also, you’ll get a sense of achievement as your skill increases.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the physical benefits of surfing;


We’re going to start with one that perhaps isn’t so obvious, and it’s the improvement you’ll see to your back and shoulder strength. If you ask several retirees the most annoying thing about getting older, many will tell you about their back and shoulder problems. Unfortunately, this can have a huge impact on even everyday tasks such as putting the washing out on the line or trying to sit comfortably to read a book.

As you learn to surfer after 40, your arms will always be in use as you attempt to balance, paddle, and the inevitable climbing back onto the board (unless you’re an instant pro!). Even when sitting or lying on the board, you’ll be rotating your arms and the shoulder joint will get a good workout. As your arms go through their full range of motion, this is great news for the shoulders, elbows, and even the spine.

For many, they enjoy increased mobility in their upper body and it generally fights off the stiffness that comes with age. Let’s face it, we’ve all made those grunting noises while attempting to stand up after a long time sitting (we won’t tell anyone!).


Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death in the UK, according to the government website, it causes nearly twice as many deaths as dementia; dementia is the second leading cause of death. While deaths from heart disease and stroke have certainly decreased in recent years, it’s still too high for our liking and surfing is the perfect opportunity to stay active and reduce your chances of struggling with this health issue. Regardless of which form of surfing you choose (duck diving, paddling, or standing), you’ll be moving constantly and this level of activity can only be beneficial for your health.

As your heart rate increases and the different muscles receive blood and oxygen, your cardiovascular system welcomes the activity and this offers various benefits in everyday life. For example, you won’t have any trouble breathing and strenuous activity becomes much easier. Suddenly, you’ll have the energy to take the stairs at work rather than the lift (unless you’re on the 33rd floor, of course!).


Before we move onto the psychological benefits of surfing, we want to talk about flexibility because certain parts of your body will always be stretching and twisting while on the board. Suddenly, muscles and joints you didn’t even know existed will be activated and we mustn’t forget the range of motion your joints will experience as the sheer power of the waves hit the board. With all this stretching, it’ll be like a more dramatic form of yoga and you should experience fewer aches and pains in life.

Benefits of surfing


Something that often goes forgotten with surfing is the work it does with your core; all that effort to stay balanced keeps the core engaged and this is something you’ll certainly feel the morning after your first session. Just as we saw in the cardiovascular section, this is something you might not notice but will definitely improve your life. Whether you’re lifting boxes, standing after long periods of sitting down, or using the upper torso in any way, you’re going to see a boost after surfing.

For those who work in an office and stare at a computer all day, surfing can also help with your posture; you might find yourself slouching less while at the desk. In truth, surfing reflects many of the normal movements we put our bodies through on a daily basis (although it might not seem like it at first).

For example, after first paddling out to a wave, you’ll need to activate the muscles in the legs and core to jump to your feet. In every single lesson, you’ll jump to your feet several times. If you can do it on a surfboard in the sea, you can definitely do it getting out of bed or getting off the sofa with ease. Over time, the difference in your leg and core strength will be noticeable and this is another great benefit of choosing surfing (they’re starting to add up, right?).


Hopefully, we’ve been able to persuade you to book up that first surfing lesson on the physical benefits alone. If not, how about we tell you of the brilliant mental benefits of surfing?


Without both coordination and concentration, you won’t be able to stand up on the board for longer than five seconds so these will both be improved over time. Of course, these are two transferable skills so there’s no reason why your coordination and concentration don’t also improve at home, at work, and while playing any other sports. For example, you might notice that you’re able to sit at a desk for a longer period of time or be more successful in your local pool league.


Firstly, all exercise has now been scientifically proven to release endorphins (chemicals in the brain) which improve mood and overall wellbeing. For those who suffer with depression and/or anxiety, many doctors are now starting to recommend exercise for this very reason. This, coupled with the fact you’ll be outside breathing in the fresh sea air, may allow you to adopt a new positive mindset in life.

surfing mental health


We must provide a warning at this stage because surfing will require patience, it will require perseverance, and a significant percentage of people do stop attending after just one lesson. However, we urge you to fight through the learning stage. Yes, you might find yourself getting frustrated and you might wonder where the fun starts for a while. But, as you improve, and overcome the mental barrier that stops many, you’ll have one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.

Eventually, all your hard work will pay off and you won’t believe that you nearly gave it all up. From struggling to jump to your feet to being able to stand up confidently for extended periods, you can prove to yourself that all goals in life are achievable. Even when the goal seemed impossible just a short while ago, the hard work and time you invest will always be rewarded.

Soon enough, you’ll enjoy all the physical and psychological benefits we’ve discussed and you may even be able to bring friends and family along to watch you shine. As we’ve seen before, these are transferable skills because you’ll be more likely to take this determination and perseverance into your personal life and career.


Finally, you don’t have to become a master of surfing to enjoy the stress relief it can offer. If you want to push your body to its limit and really test yourself, this is possible. If you want to have a relaxing pastime and enjoy being in the water, this is equally fine. While some choose to navigate every wave and they feel disappointed after a poor lesson, others are just happy to be out in the water sitting on the board and looking out over the stunning horizon.

When it comes to surfing, the surfboard and the water are the two essentials. From here, you can do whatever makes you happy. Soon enough, you’ll be wondering where all that stress from work has gone and this for us makes for a successful hobby.

learn to surf at 50


As well as the physical and psychological benefits of surfing and the way it allows for a healthy lifestyle, you can also meet new people and forget about the stresses of life for a couple of hours. To finish our guide, we want to provide a few considerations before booking your first surf lesson!

Your height and weight aren’t important because there are various shapes and sizes of boards.

  • Don’t worry about your fitness levels right now because your stamina will improve over time.
  • Surfboards can even be custom-made, if necessary.
  • You should NEVER feel as though you’re too old to start surfing.

Don’t live life according to other people’s expectations or rules, make your own rules (perhaps not on the road, but you get the idea!). If you feel you’ll enjoy surfing and you like the sound of the many benefits we’ve discussed here today, we have three words for you; GO FOR IT!


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

Age? Well the average age of a Swell client is 39

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding…regardless of your age!

Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

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The question of ‘what level of surfer am I?’ inevitably crops up when you are selecting where to travel, and when to travel to a surf destination (tip; if it doesn’t occur to you, it should). After all, most surf destinations/countries have different surf seasons which may suit different surfing abilities.

If they don’t actually have different seasons, then at least there will be different surf breaks and or tides to consider and match up to your own surfing ability.

what level surfer am i

Here at Swell Surf camp, and at our sister surf hotel, Swell Bali in Indonesia, we are very often tasked with helping a student identify their ‘level’ of surfing and what they are trying to achieve with their surf lessons or surf guiding.


In our experience, most often a student will class themselves as an ‘intermediate’ surfer when they have had a few surf lessons before, but it’s actually not that straightforward. Overestimating your skillset as a surfer will almost inevitably lead to problems/frustration at the very least, and when the ocean is involved there’s an obvious element of danger too. We really want to avoid giving any student a frightening surf experience which could end up putting them off surfing for life.

what level surfer am i
So for us, there are many things which help define what level of surfing you are at. For example, you might have only been surfing a short time (perhaps a few months), but have been lucky enough to get loads of water time, plus the right surfboard and good surf conditions, in which case your progression could have been quite rapid.

But perhaps like many novice surfers we encounter, they’ve already been trying to surf for a while, but just haven’t managed to make any big ‘leaps’ forward.

This could be for any number of reasons. Some examples would be; regularly visiting a surf break which doesn’t enjoy good waves, and/or going out on a board which is too small, and/or choosing to surf in the wrong conditions (which don’t suit your ability), and/or not being very skilled at wave selection and/or (hopefully not) poor surf instruction initially which might have led to you developing some bad habits.

As a result of all these factors, it’s clearly not reliable to accurately define our level of surfing ability just by considering the length of time you’ve been surfing or the number of surf lessons you have taken.

Instead, we can gauge with far more accuracy what level of surfer you really are by actually assessing the skills you have managed to master so far in the water.

What do we mean by that?

In our many years of experience giving surf lessons at many different levels, we usually find surfers classing themselves in one of the 4 following categories; Beginner, Intermediate, Expert or Pro.

But we don’t agree with only using 4 categories as it takes an awful lot of water time and good conditions to progress from Beginner to Intermediate: It is widely accepted that an Intermediate surfer already possesses a lot of surfing skills.


For us at Swell, we feel there should actually be 7 stages of surfing. We find it really useful with our surf lessons or surf guiding to very accurately assess someone’s surf skills by using these 7 categories, clearly stating the skills mastered within each stage.


  7. PRO.

Experts and Pros don’t need our help of course, but we do find the subtle changes and skill sets required, especially to get from the Beginner to the Intermediate stage, are worthy of being defined and given their own name as there are so many nuances to take into account with a surfer’s development, especially in the early stages. Let’s talk about those stages and what they mean to us.



A beginner is exactly that, someone who is just beginning surfing, new to the sport, with no previous surf lessons or surf experience. You will have no idea at all about any aspect of surfing and need complete surf instruction right from the very basics (no shame in that by the way). We love complete beginners at Swell and always give our beginners some exercises they can begin at home to prepare for the rigours of paddling especially, plus tips on how to pop up so that by the time they arrive for their surf holiday/vacation they have a bit of a head start.
beginner surf level

You will be needing to learn:

  • The names of the various parts of the surfboard
  • Aspects of water safety
  • Whether you have a ‘goofy’ stance or a ‘regular’ stance
  • How to lie on the board
  • How to sit on the surfboard in the water
  • How to paddle
  • How to pop-up
  • How it feels to catch a wave and be ‘propelled’
  • How to stand up once you have caught a wave
  • How to improve your stance for balance as the wave carries you
  • Basic theory about how waves are formed
  • How to identify a good wave to catch
  • When to start paddling for the wave

Recommended board for a beginner, adult, average weight :

9’0” long  Soft top surfboard with lots of volume

Ideal wave height:

1′ to 3′ (half a meter to 1 meter) white water / broken waves.


The NOVICE stage applies to you if you have taken some surf lessons before or even visited one or two surf camps in the past and have already mastered the skills listed above. You should also be able to;

Paddle into white water waves or even small green waves unaided (i.e. not being pushed into the wave by someone else)
Able to pop-up on the surfboard and ride for a few meters without falling
Paddle yourself back into position ready for the next wave
Novice surf level

You will be aiming to do the following:

  • Start to read and select waves (learning which ones to leave and which to paddle for)
  • Improve your stance on the surfboard to get ready for;
    trimming (turning slightly) the surfboard to start to ride ‘down the line’ instead of only going in a straight line
  • Learn about surf etiquette

Recommended board for a novice surfer, adult, average weight :

8’0 to 9’0”  Soft or hard top top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

2′ to 4′ (half a meter to 1.2meters) white water / broken waves.


The progressive stage applies to you if you have already mastered the skills of the BEGINNER AND NOVICE surfer levels above and are now out of the whitewater (i.e. you are now able to ride shoulder/head-high green, unbroken waves). To recap, we would refer to you as a progressive surfer if you can already do the following:

  • Paddle easily out to a break
  • Understand and able to follow priority/surf etiquette in the line-up
  • Read waves and make correct decisions whether or not to take one or not
  • Paddle unaided into chest/head-high waves
  • Pop up quickly with ease
  • Have a good stance on the surfboard
  • Speed up the surfboard on the wave to enable gentle turning:
  • Able to surf a ‘wavy-line’ along the face of a wave, keeping ahead of the whitewater when a wave is not closing out
  • Paddle back out to the line up unaided after taking your wave

Progressive surf level
As a progressive surfer, you will be aiming to achieve the following:

  • Learn how to make a more drastic top turn and bottom turns
  • Taking steeper drops (paddling into larger waves)

Recommended board for a progressive surfer, adult, average weight :

7’0 to 8’0”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

2′ to 4′ (half a meter to 1.2meters) unbroken waves.


An intermediate surfer will have mastered all the skills above; to briefly recap you are an INTERMEDIATE surfer if you can already do the following:

  • Paddle into overhead or larger waves
  • Keep your speed up on a wave to stay ahead of the white water
  • Make more drastic top turns and a bottom turns

As an intermediate surfer, you will probably be aiming to achieve the following:

Intermediate surfer level

  • Learn how to do ‘cutbacks’ (a sharp turn back into the steep part of the wave to make more of a wave’s face)
  • Begin to ‘stall’ yourself on the wave to try to get ‘barrelled’
  • Start learning how to climb on top of the wave’s lip, referred to as a ‘floater’
  • Learn how to come ‘off the lip’ sharply and back into the wave

Recommended board for a progressive surfer, adult, average weight :

6’8″ to 7’8”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

3′ to 5′ (1 meter to 1.6meters) unbroken waves.


A surfer who is at an advanced stage is already able to do the following:

  • Has excellent wave selection
  • Can make controlled high-speed bottom and top turns
  • Can round-house cutback into the steep part of the wave
  • Can get barrelled in medium-height waves
  • Can easily manage a larger, wider bottom turn to rush ahead of a close-out section and re-enter an unbroken part of the wave
  • Can make off-the-lip manoeuvres
  • Floaters

Advanced surfer level
Recommended board for an advanced surfer, adult, average weight :

6’0″ to 6’8”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

4′ to 7′ (1.2 meters to 2 meters) unbroken waves.


Expert surfers, and of course Pro surfers, don’t need to have an explanation of what they can achieve on a wave as they have inevitably mastered all the techniques described above + a lot more. 360’s, aerials and being barrelled in huge waves are usually all in their repertoire.
Expert surfer level

This article is aimed more at explaining the difference between the first 5 stages of surfing so that as a surfer with less experience, you can let surf camps or surf hotels like us correctly judge where we should be advising you to surf, what type of surf lesson you might need, or whether you are better off just going out with a surf guide.

Recommended board for an advanced surfer, adult, average weight :

5’5″ to 6’5”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

5′ and up


It’s a really terrible idea to overstate your surf experience; not least because you will very likely end up in the wrong surf spot for your ability which can inevitably lead to serious injury, or worse.

Having a frightening experience in waves too large for your skillset can set you back for months if not years. Any good surf coach or guide will quickly progress you through stages if they can see you are able: Noone is going to deliberately hold you back and many surf coaches will naturally push you a little out of your comfort zone as that is generally how we all progress. Surfing is a life-long commitment of learning: Even Pro’s will tell you they are still honing/improving skills on every single wave they take.

We are in the process of making an interactive level guide to help you identify your current surfing-skill set.

Once you have correctly established where you are in your stages of learning, come and see us at Swell Bali, or Swell Surf Camp in the Dominican Republic; we’d love to help you keep getting better! Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way. If you need any more assistance in ‘diagnosing’ your surf level, just drop us a line and we will try to help out.

We hope you like this article of “what level of surfer am I?” if you do, you might also like the following article: different surfboard and which boards are best suited at which stage of your surfing level, have a look at this page: Different surfboards
Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

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surfboards for beginners



Now that you’ve had your first surfing lessons and have decided to continue your surfing career, how do you go about buying your first surfboard? How do you decide on what to buy?

You might get objective advice from some staff at the surf shop, but there are those who’re ready to sell anything to you, just to get their commission… or you might end up with a salesperson that knows next to nothing about surfing.

Our best surfboards for beginners recommendations in this article will be determined by certain factors – where you surf, how often you surf, and if & how often you travel for surfing.


Volume is the most important factor when choosing surfboard for a beginner. A board with lots of volume will float better which makes it easier for learners to get to their feet and catch the waves.

Surfboard Volume
Different surfboards & their volume

A lot of people make this mistake when purchasing their first surfboard. Minimals, foam boards and longboards come with lots of volume, Shortboards and any surfboard under 6’6”, not so much.

Volume is usually measured in litres. We think a great beginner surfboard should have at least 60 litres of volume – and even better if there’s more. A minimal longboard surfboard could have between 65-80 litres or more volume. Now let’s compare it to one of those performance shortboard used by surf professionals… which might have about 6’1 x 18 ¼ inch shortboards. Its volume should be about 25 litres. If you want to enjoy a board as small as that, you’ll need a lot of surfing technique and the right waves.

Something we see on a regular basis here at Swell is from people with Snowboard experience, they assume that because they are good snowboarders: learning to surf will be easy and quick for them too. As a result, they want to skip the phase of learning on a bigger board. This will not speed up your surfing learning curve: in fact, it will do the opposite. You have to learn the basics: Paddle technique – catching waves – Riding the white water; All these things are best done on surfboard with more than 60 litres of volume.


Another common mistake is that after dealing with a big longboard in the water for a few days and seeing experienced surfers on their short boards, is to ‘blame’ their slow progress on the longboard. Yes, a long beginners board is not easy to turn, duck dive or handle in white water. In the beginning of your surf career, it’s not able to take on big waves or making nice turns. In the beginning of your surfing, you should focus on 1 thing: catching as many waves as you can. Catching more waves = Quicker Progress = More fun!

surfing holiday

What you will want as a beginning surfers is to catch waves – starting from the white water, then moving to unbroken ‘green’ waves. And if you really want to achieve this as a beginner, you’ll need to get a surfboard with lots of volume. So, at this stage volume is the most important thing you need in a surfboard.

Durability is another factor to consider for beginner surfboards, because you’ll probably end up knocking the board around a bit while you’re learning which is why you might want to go with something durable.



Beginner surfboards

These boards come with a soft layer of foam atop them with a slick plastic layer at the bottom.

Extremely durable

They don’t come with sharp points; which makes them safer

Best value for money

Used by practically all the surf schools



Epoxy molded surfboard

Bic, NSP & Torq ( which are surfboard brands we use for our Hardtops at Swell) are some of the common brands with this construction type. Although a lot of other brands use similar constructions, they are sometimes called “Pop-outs” in reference to the mould used for shaping the board’s core.

  • Very durable
  • They usually come with removable fins, which are compatible with systems like FCS or Future Fins
  • Great value, is often found in packages with leash & board bags
  • Proven surfboard shapes


Polyester surfboard

This has been the standard construction for surfboards for years. This surfboard has a soft foam blank shaped into it and layers of fibreglass cloth and polyester resin laminated across the top to give it a harder outer shell and make it more watertight.

  • Fairly lightweight
  • Looks every inch like the traditional surfboard
  • Available in different shapes and sizes
  • Comes with removable fins that are easily replaced
  • Dings and Cracks easily, but can also easily be repaired
  • Turns yellow-ish after a few months in the sun


Shaping surfboard
Custom shaping an epoxy surfboard

This board is similar to the polyester boards, but with a different foam for its epoxy resin and core, including a fibreglass cloth outer layer.

    • It is lighter than those polyester resin surfboards
    • More durable than the polyester resin surfboards
    • Shaped like those traditional surfboards
    • Available in every shape and size
    • Comes with removable fins that are easy to replace
    • Can easily be repaired if cracked or dinged
    • Epoxy boards are lighter boards & more crack-resistant, and their outer layer is more likely to bend not split when struck by something.

Those are the major types of construction out there, so now you understand the advantages of each construction. You can put this information into consideration when considering the shape of surfboard to pick.



Surfboards for beginners


Quite affordable

Very stable

Soft – which is safer in case you get hit by your board

Great to surf the white-water

Can easily catch most waves


Pretty heavy

Not much difference between its price and that of hard surfboards

Not great for surfing shoulder high waves

Not easy to paddle out in bigger surfs

Not very responsive to the surfer’s input

Will not provide long term fun

What we think of foam surfboards

Foam surfboards can be found in 6 and 7ft (for kids and folks that are lighter) including 8 and 8ft versions. The smallest length for a regular adult to lean on is 8ft. However, you should know that there are quite a number of low quality, cheap and badly constructed foamies for sale on sites like Ali express and eBay.

Foamies are perfect for people that have never surfed before or are in their first stages of learning to surf

However, if you are going to surf on a regular basis you will grow out of the soft top with 5 to 15 surf sessions and want to move onto a hardtop, so our advice is to rent a soft-top at your local surf school or join a surf camp like Swell and then move onto the hardtop boards like the ones listed below


beginner surfboard


It is faster and easier to manoeuvre than those foam boards

Can be used to learn longboard moves such as hanging 5, cross stepping, etc.

Can be used to surf bigger head waves (provided you can actually paddle out)

Should have good resale value if you ever want to sell

Some people are so in love with longboards that they want to surf forever on them


If it is over 8ft long it won’t fit in most cars

Quite bulky to carry around

The fact that it is hard means it will hurt more if it actually hits you compared to foam boards

Harder to catch waves with them than foam boards

Most airlines don’t allow passengers to check in longboards because of their length

They work better with unbroken ‘green’ waves because they’re not designed to ride white water.

Our Thoughts:

These boards are great for intermediate surfers that want to progress from their first surf lessons on a soft top

This board will keep you entertained for 1 or 2 seasons so you can learn all the surfing fundamentals

Some People love the glide and feel of these boards that they never move onto a shorter board but will stick with this length and type of surfboards for the rest of their surfing career.

Verdict: Recommended as first surfboard/

Worth noting: Not every ‘long’ board is a suitable board for a beginner. There are a lot of high-performance longboards on the market which are geared toward the expert longboarder, they are not very good to learn on. Ask at your local surf shop or bring a friend who can tell the difference.


Mini Mal Surfboard


The board is smaller so you can easily carry it around

You can fit a 7’6 into a small car

Easier to paddle it in bigger surfs compared to large foam boards

It is also quite progressive, so you can actually enjoy this board for a while

There are people who will rather surf on minimal shaped surfboards

Can be taken on planes – i.e. airlines with an 8ft limit


More difficult to catch waves compared to foamies or long boards

They’re not so soft, so you might want to avoid getting hit with them

A minimal board is still a large board so it might be a little difficult to navigate high waves (though it is advisable to stick to smaller waves if you’re a beginner).

They’re slower than the smaller surfboards

Our Thoughts:

Not a bad board for someone to buy after they have had 5 or so sessions on a soft top, however, works best in this size range for lighter men, women or kids.

Verdict: Recommended as a first surfboard for any surfer!


Fun shaped surfboards like minimals are smaller versions of longboards without their middle 2ft.
Comes with thruster and single fin options


They’re easier to carry since they’re lighter than foamies and large long boards

These boards which are a little smaller than minimals are faster and easier to paddle out when the surf becomes bigger

Small enough to meet the requirements of most airlines

It is also quite progressive, so you can actually enjoy this board for a while

It is quite popular among surfers, so it has great resale value

It can fit into most cars


It doesn’t have as much volume as a long board, so it would require a little more effort to actually catch waves

It is harder to learn on this board than on a longer board

Have to be surfed in more critical parts of the wave to generate enough speed and lift

Our Thoughts:

Not the quickest way to progress in your surfing, you will catch fewer waves and most likely have shorter rides than on the boards listed above. On the plus side, they do cater to a large variety of surf conditions

Verdict: Not ideal but can work as a first surfboard purchase


Short surf board


Great designs at affordable prices

More manoeuvrable and faster than all the other boards mentioned above (fun boards, foamies, minimals and long boards).

They are light and easy to manoeuvre

Easier to duck dive with them under waves whenever you’re paddling out

Can surf both small waist high and overhead waves

They’re small enough to fit the requirements of most airlines


Beginners catch very few waves

Waves need to be caught and surfed in the critical part of the wave

Very unstable in small waves

Our Thoughts:

Unless you are young, light and/ or a very very quick progressing surfer with lots of talent, it is not recommended to buy a small shortboard as your first surfboard. You will struggle learning the basics and the gap from a soft-top foamie to a shortboard is huge

Verdict: Don’t buy a standard shortboard as your first surfboard when you are still a beginner / intermediate surfer.

Our final thoughts on the best surfboards for beginners

Buying a surfboard is always a compromise, at the stage of your surf career, every surfboard has different characteristics: some work better in hollow waves, some work better in big waves etc. Starting off your first season as a surfer, we think one of the most important aspects of your surfing should be to catch as many waves as possible.

Bigger boards work well in being able to catch lots of waves and providing good stability once you are up and riding. Yes, shortboards are better for advanced manoeuvres, but…. if you can’t catch the waves in the first place you will not be pulling any fancy moves at all.

Lots of surf shops are also affiliated with a local surf school ( or run one themselves), so ask them if it’s possible to try a certain board from their rental pool before buying it.

Volume is your friend: more volume = more waves = more fun!

If you have any questions about this article on best surfboards for beginners, do contact us.



Ok, there are tons of places online to buy cheap surfboards:  Amazon, Alibaba and other online surf shops, our advice?


Besides supporting a local business, they will also be able to give you good advice on local surf conditions at the nearby surfing beaches, and they are also a great way to meet other fellow surfers in the area. A good shop owner will also be able to give you advice on sizing the right surfboard for your weight/lengths and level of surfing.


Q: Should you buy a beginner surfboard?
A: Don’t spend too much, you’ll ‘grow’ out of your soft top in 15 or so surf sessions, rent one or use a beginner oft top surfboard at surf school or surf camp.

Q: I do want to buy a beginner surfboard , how much do they cost?
A: New between 150 and 500 USD. Used between 50 and 250 USD

Q: What type of surfboard should I get as a beginner?
A: Lenght wise: something bigger than 8 foot with lots of volume, ideally with a soft top for safety.

Q: Is a 6’6 surfboard good for a beginner?
A: No



Located on the scenic north coast of the Dominican Republic is our purpose-built surf resort

We cater for surfers of all levels, from beginners to expert surfers who are looking for an active surf holiday

We at Swell offers full surf packages holidays


Swell now also offer a luxury surf holiday experience in Bali

tropical architecture

Interested in learning how to surf? Have a look at the surf vacation packages we offer for our guests at Swell Surf camp


Different surfboard shapes explained

Questions or comments about this surf technique article? Let us know, send us a message.

Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

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surfboards for beginners

7 Common Mistakes Surfers Make & How to Fix Them

We all know that surfing is difficult. Everything about learning to surf, from paddling out to catching a wave, presents us with new and seemingly insurmountable challenges. But something about the feeling we experience when we caught our first wave profoundly resonated with us. It hooked us and transformed us from seemingly normal people into addicts. Plain and simple. There’s no turning back. No matter how many wipeouts, hold downs, or frustrating experiences we have in the water, we will persist. Thankfully, there are a few steps we can take, as beginner surfers, to remedy some of our downfalls. Dive in and learn the common mistakes surfers make while learning, and the steps you can take to fix them.

Common surf mistakes


1. Poor positioning on the board

While paddling for a wave, it’s vital to consider your position on your board. Too far back, and you’ll never catch a wave. Each oncoming roller will simply sweep under you. Too far forward, and you’ll submerge the nose of the board and nosedive in the process. Your paddle position on the board should leave the board completely flat on the water while you paddle. Neither the nose nor the tail should rise from the water as you paddle. Once you find the sweet spot on your board, look for a reference point so that you may remember the position. My go-to is my relative position to the logo on the board.

2. Dropping to a knee during the pop-up

Now that you’re paddling effectively and catching waves, it’s time to worry about your pop-up. Pop-ups are key to securing a clean ride down the line of a wave. If your pop up is too slow, the wave will outrun you. If your pop us is off-balance, you’re sure to fall. One way many beginner surfers cope with the difficulty of the pop-up is to drop to a knee to retain their balance as they get to their feet.

This is incorrect and will lead to the formation of bad habits, which can plague your surfing and halt your progression. If you’re not agile enough to hop into your stance during your pop-up in one swift movement, do not fret. Simply place one foot after the other. As the wave begins to lift you, begin your pop up by arching your back upwards, lifting your torso off the board as you place your hands flat onto the board. Next, place your back foot flat on the board and bring your front foot up between your hands, and stand up into your stance.

3. Grabbing the surfboard rails during the pop-up

Another egregious pop-up error, that is often made by learning surfers, is to grab the rails of the board during the pop-up. Grabbing the rails may seem like a natural thing to do when the force of the wave begins to lift you, but it will undoubtedly cause you to fall. While it may be a hard habit to break, it has a simple fix. Rather than grabbing your rails during the pop-up, place them securely under your chest, flat on the board, and push up into position.


4. The “poo stance”


The dreaded poo stance is the telltale mark of a kook, and it is something that should be avoided at all cost. In addition to forcing you to out yourself as a true kook, the poop stance will hinder your ability to cleanly ride down the line and retain your balance.

By definition, the poo stance is an exaggerated squat stance where the surfer is bending at the waist, not the knees, while also pushing their backside out. The remedy to the god-forsaken poo stance is to practice the correct stance repeatedly on land before trying it in the water. A correct surf stance will have the surfer’s feet just wider than shoulder-width, the torso turned facing down the line, and the knees slightly bent with the back knee turned slightly inward.

5. Standing too far forward/ back on the board

If you’ve conquered the pop-up, but can’t seem to successfully ride a wave, your positioning on your board may be to blame. If you stand too far to the front of your board, you will sink the nose, which will cause you to wipe out. If you’re too far back, the wave will roll under you and you will not be able to complete the ride. The simple solution is to pop up in the middle of your board, with sufficient weight on your front foot, allowing you to drop into the face of the wave. As you ride down the line, you may need to change your position on the board. Maneuver forward to speed up and ride further down the line, maneuver backward to avoid nose-diving, or to slow down and reenter the pocket of the wave.


6. Not facing down the line while riding backside


If you’ve mastered the pop-up, paddling, and catching waves on your own, then it is time to work on riding open faced waves. Catching your first wave is a surreal rush that is hard to match but riding your first green wave takes it to a whole new level. Taking off on a perfect peeling wave, carving up and down its open face while outrunning the white water behind you, is akin to what I imagine flying feels like. Many surfers, however, struggle with riding open-faced waves on their backside. The obvious reason for this is that when you are riding backside, you are not facing the wave, and therefore it is harder to surf as effectively.

Fortunately, there is a sure-fire method to help surfers turn and face, and subsequently ride, down the line on their backside. This method is commonly referred to as “Waiter’s Hands.” “Waiter’s Hands” is a position in which a surfer holds both hands directly in front of their torso as if they were carrying a tray of plates.

Holding your hands in this position and turning at the hips to face down the line, will allow you to avoid cutting your ride short and effectively make it down the line.


7. Downsizing your board to quickly


In surfing, like everything else in life, it’s important to crawl before you walk, walk before you run, and so on. Many surfers feel that once they’re up and riding on a foam board or a longboard that they are ready to hop on a shortboard. In reality, that is rarely the case. If you downsize your board too quickly, you’ll find executing the skills you’ve previously grasped to beß difficult and frustrating. Surfers should spend ample time on a longboard before they consider riding anything else.

Longboards teach surfers the feel of the wave, how to use the wave to generate speed, and help them gain confidence in the water. If, after a few weeks of comfortably and confidently surfing a longboard, you feel it is time to change it up, pick up a fun-size board. Perhaps a 7-footer.

Spend as much time mastering that board, as you did the longboard, and move down from there. Repeat with each size, until you arrive at a high-performance shortboard.
More information on choosing the right beginner surfboard is on this article: best beginner surfboards to buy

We hope you like the article about common surf mistakes and how to fix them

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