LEARN TO SURF AT 50

learning to surf at an older age

 LEARN TO SURF AT THE AGE OF 50?

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

LEARNING TO SURF AT AN ‘OLDER’ AGE

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!)

SURFING IS  A GREAT WAY TO:

  • 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

1. WORK ON YOUR FITNESS

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.

2. TAKE SURF LESSON

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.

SURFING AT AN OLDER AGE

3. IMPROVE YOUR SWIMMING ABILITIES.

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

4. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE BOARD FOR LEARNING TO SURF

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 450 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.

5. DON’T MAKE COMPARISONS TO OTHER PEOPLE

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

ABOUT SWELL

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.

BOUTIQUE SURF HOLIDAYS IN THE CARIBEAN

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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CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES: POSITIONING IN SURFING

surfing unbroken waves

CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES:

POSITIONING IN SURFING

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

surfing green waves

CATCH MORE WAVES BY SITTING IN THE RIGHT SPOT!

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.

CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES

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

PHASE 1:  SWELL LINES
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.

PHASE 2: UNBROKEN WAVE
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)

PHASE 3: BREAKING WAVE
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.

PHASE 4: WHITE WATER
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.

Why?

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.”

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR CATCHING MORE WAVES IN SURFING

KEEP LOOKING
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

A BIGGER BOARD MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
It will be easier to catch unbroken waves if you have a larger board.

PADDLE SPEED
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!

VIDEO OF CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES

ABOUT SWELL

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.

BOUTIQUE SURF RETREAT HOLIDAYS

The Caribbean: On the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

In Indonesia: Bali is where you will find Swell Bali Surf Retreat.

swell bali Surf Retreat

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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GETTING FIT FOR A SURF HOLIDAY

surfing retreat

GETTING FIT FOR A SURF HOLIDAY

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SURF HOLIDAY

learn surfing older age

SURF FITNESS


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.

SURF FITNESS GUIDE


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:

Nutrition
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.

ABOUT SWELL


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

In Indonesia: Bali is where you will find Swell Bali Surf Retreat.

swell bali Surf Retreat

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

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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WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER AM I

surfing encuentro

WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER AM I?

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.

DON’T OVERESTIMATE YOUR SKILLSET

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.

7 CATEGORIES

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.

OUR 7 LEVEL OF SURFER LEVELS ARE:

  1. BEGINNER
  2. NOVICE
  3. PROGRESSIVE
  4. INTERMEDIATE
  5. ADVANCED
  6. EXPERT
  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.

SO….WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER ARE YOU?

BEGINNER SURFER

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.

NOVICE

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.

PROGRESSIVE

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.

INTERMEDIATE

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.

ADVANCED SURFER LEVEL

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 and PRO LEVELS

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

DON’T RUSH, SURFING TAKES TIME

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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7 Reasons to Ride the Waves and Learn to Surf

Picture this. The sun’s shining, the palm trees are swaying, and you’re riding your first ever wave over the crystal clear Caribbean water. There’s no doubt about it, nothing beats surfing!

In addition to having fun and embracing a new challenge, surfing comes with a whole host of other benefits. From improved fitness and better core strength to reducing stress and encouraging you to get outdoors, what’s not to like?

Regardless of age or ability, it’s never too late to learn to surf. You’ll learn to trust yourself and your instincts like never before. We’ve rounded up 7 ways of how surfing will help you live life to the fullest.

Read on to learn more!

 

You’re Going to Get a Whole Lot Fitter When You Learn To Surf

learn to surf holidaysSurfing comes with many physical health benefits, which is great news for all of you looking to get fitter. In fact, surfing is the perfect combination of strength and cardio training.

When you learn to surf, you’ll be doing a lot of paddling to get used to the board and feeling of the water below. Although this can be a little tiring at first, it’s a killer cardiovascular workout. You’ll have some pretty toned arms by the end of your holiday, that’s for sure.

Your shoulders and back are also going to get stronger and stronger every time you paddle out to catch a wave.

Every element of surfing pushes your strength, agility, balance, and stamina.

Once you’ve learned to pop up on the board (you’ll get there, trust us), your legs and core are going to be working to keep your body balanced and standing upright. That feeling when you’re riding your first wave – however short that moment may be – is something you’ll never forget.

 

You’re Going to Feel Happier and More ‘Present’

happy surf campSurfing is a fantastic outlet for releasing stress and tension.

The endorphin’s released through physical activity provide a natural happiness high and immediately make you feel better about the world.

A study of 107 surfers in California investigated the mental health benefits of surfing by asking them to describe how they felt before and after a session. They reported feeling calmer and more tranquil afterwards.

When you’re surfing, there are no distractions of modern life. It’s just you, the water and your board.

 

Taking on a New Challenge Is Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

When we learn a new skill or sport, we’re challenging our mind, body, and soul. And when we are faced with something new, we have to work that much harder to get it right. When we achieve our goal, the reward is that much sweeter.

Remember when you learned to ride a bike? It doesn’t come immediately, but before you know it, you’ve got the hang of it! It’s the same with surfing. One day it will click, and you’ll wonder why you’ve taken so long to give it a go.

 

You’ll Learn More About Yourself

learn to surf holidayIt takes courage to leave your comfort zone behind and connect with something bigger than yourself. Venturing out into the open waves for the first time can seem daunting and alien. But trust us when we say that you will learn more about yourself in an hour learning to surf than you will by lying on the beach trying to get a tan.

You could surprise yourself with your patience, determination, and love for the ocean. Nobody is perfect and learning to surf encourages you to push through fear and doubt.

As in all parts of life, continuous effort and a positive attitude can take you anywhere.

 

You’ll Meet New People

surf schoolFor many people, surfing isn’t just a sport but a way of life. In fact, surfing is one of the oldest sports on earth and is thought to have originated in Polynesia in 2000 B.C.

Out of a sport marked by salty hair, sandy toes, and colourful boards, a major subculture has emerged. From surf art, surf tourism, and international contests, surfing has captured hearts across the globe.

When you learn to surf, you’ll inevitably meet new people, make new friends and experience the culture of the sport.

Getting Outdoors Is Always A Good Idea

sunrise surfingGetting close to nature  and really enjoying the natural environment around us is something we should all prioritise. Those who surf often speak of the feeling of overwhelming freedom when they are in the water.

When we’re outdoors, we gain perspective on life. Even when you’re in the beginning stages of learning to surf, you’ll be immersed in the rhythms of the ocean and the great outdoors.

 

It’s Never Too Late To Learn A New Skill

Nobody wants to reach 80 and think “I wish I done X, Y, and Z.” If learning to surf is on your bucket list, why not get ticking?

And you don’t have to be 21 to learn to surf either!
We have taught people in their 40’s – 50’s and 60’s how to surf

One British man, Paul, learned to surf when he was 61 years old and hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s opened up a new dimension in my life. A feeling of freedom. You’re basically on your own, on your surfboard in the sea…one to one,” Paul said.

At Swell we aim to be the best surf camp for adults who want to learn the sport of surfing.

 

Final Thoughts

Staying fit and active is always beneficial, but when you’re outside doing something you love and learning a new skill in the process, it feels that much more rewarding.

INTERESTED IN JOINING SWELL

Have a look at the following pages to see if the learn to surf holidays we offer are something that would suit you.


Swell offers adult surf camps for people people that are looking for the best place to learn to surf

SEE WHAT A SWELL SURF HOLIDAY IS ALL ABOUT

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!


Check out our prices here.

How about a Family Surf Holiday?

In the popular kids vacation weeks, christmass, summer holiday we are also open for familiy surf holidays to join Swell.
Ready to buy your first surfboard? read our guide on choosing your first surfboard

Single / Solo Traveller? Read this article why Swell is the place for you

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Best summer camps

best surf vacation

Spring has begun and we at Swell Surf Camp already get a lot of inquiries and bookings in for the summer.

Maybe it’s because we got mentions on a lot of external / independent websites for offering awesome summer surf camp holidays.

Mentions:

Needless to say we are very happy when we get a mention in the media, another thing to say is that we never pay for media coverage or let anyone have a free stay in return for a write up. These reviews of Swell Surf Camp are genuine.

What’s going on in Cabarete?

Winter has provided us with lots of top quality surf days at Playa Encuentro, and the kite surfers have also been happy days with plenty of windy afternoons. With summer coming up: if you have been wanting to learn kitesurfing, the next few months is the time to come over to Cabarete for a kite surfing lessons / course. Steady trade winds in the afternoon will be a steady fixture all the way until the end of August for kiteboarding

Want to learn to surf ? Summer months provide excellent learning conditions for beginners with waves in the waist to chest high range.

Did we mention the Yoga Surf Camp ?

Need more activities? have a look at the active adventure holiday page.

 

We hope to see you in Cabarete, the action sport’s capital of the Caribbean this summer.

For those interested in learning to kitesurf on their caribbean, here’s a good starter guide

If you are looking for more info on the seasons in the Dominican Republic:

Best time to visit the Dominican Republic

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Surf Season in Full Swing

GOOD TIMES IN CABARETE

Here in the Dominican Republic, the surf season is in full swing, we had a great xmass and new years with another full camp of people learning to surf.

The surf conditions at Encuentro have been very good so far in January.

 

GOOD SURF

Some days with sizable surf in the overhead + range, but also plenty of days with clean and glassy surf conditions in the 2-3 foot range, ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers at Playa Encuentro

Aaron, our ISA qualified head Surf coach has been taking lots of pictures for our clients, and his picture package (40 USD) is in high demand.

 

NEW SURF INSTRUCTOR

A new surf instructor has arrived.
A first for Swell: Charlie is the first qualified Surf instructor at Swell from New Zealand.

From the cool surf town of Ragland, he is a superb surfer with year of surf instruction under his belt.

Loves to play his acoustic guitar and is also up for a party in Cabarete once every while.

Here’s some picture of what’s been going on at the #1 Surf Camp in the Caribbean in the month of January
Interested in joining us in the Dominican Republic?
We have some spaces left fro February and March, so if you want to you Swell for an incredible surf holiday, send Clare an email today.

Want to learn to kitesurf in Cabarete, we offer that too. Want to see what other activities are on offer with Swell, have a look at this page. Interested in a Yoga Surf Camp holiday? We offer that too

 
Remember:

6 QUICK REASONS WHY TO GO TO SWELL

  • Swell is the only purposely built surf camp in the Caribbean.
  • Swell is the only surf camp that employs qualified surf instructors.
  • We are located at the best location in town, close to bars and restaurant.
  • Best food
  • Clean, comfortable and stylish
  • But most of all, Swell has the best vibe!

See you soon

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