Surfing: What You Need To Get Started


Listpiration SurfingChecked off the list: April 2013

I’ve lived a majority of my life in colder climates and had always been a fond of surfing on snow. However, last year when I moved to Southern California and traded snowflakes in for sun rays, I knew that this was finally the time to try one of the last few board sports left on my list.

When it came to snowboarding, wake boarding, wake surfing, and numerous failed attempts at skateboarding, I will admit, surfing was the only sport that has ever intimidated me for some odd reason. I needed to overcome this and cross it off my bucket list. Perhaps it was being out further in the ocean than I was used to, the fact that my mother was constantly worried about a shark attacking me, or possibly feeling just how powerful the ocean really is. I’m really glad I just went out and did it none the less. It has turned out to be one of my favorite new hobbies and I now have a much deeper respect for surfers and appreciation for the ocean. It’s healthy to confront a fear that you have and to step out of your comfort zone. You will learn a lot about yourself and feel alive. Just be safe and use your best judgement.

Akvile Harlow SurfingBack in April, I took a trip down to San Diego with my boyfriend and we stayed on the coast where surf shops lined the beach towns. We both had always wanted to give it a try so we asked some locals for recommendations on the best instructors and rental shops in the area and signed up at Surfari Surf School. Bright and early the following morning after our lesson, we were paddling out, popping up on our boards, and catching some fun beginner size waves. We were immediately hooked!

On our way home, we stopped at the Rip Curl outlet where we scored some top notch gear for an astonishing price. Thank you, Courtney for the outlet recommendation! Now that we were invested, it has been a fun activity for us to do together and with friends before work and on the weekends. I’ve found it to be one of the more refreshing ways to begin my day, especially when dolphins swim around you out in the ocean. It’s a feeling like no other.

After the trip, we were quite lucky to stumble upon a local surf shop in Seal Beach called Inflight Surf & Sail where we quickly became regulars. Whether I was stopping by to get some advice on my technique, questions about gear, surf conditions, good beginner spots on the coast, or just to say hello, Scott and his family who run the shop are always super informative and make you feel welcome.

Interested in giving it a try? Here are some helpful bits of advice to get you geared up and on the water:


  • Surf Board: Can’t quite surf if you don’t have a board. It’s usually inexpensive to rent one for the day or if you are taking a lesson, they’re typically included in the lesson price.
  • Leash: Don’t go surfing without one strapped to your ankle and board. The ocean might sweep your board away or it could hurt someone else in the water.
  • Wax: You’ll need to wax your board so you won’t slip off of it while riding. If you have a foam board, wax isn’t needed.
  • Wetsuit or Rash Guard:Depending on where you are surfing, you may or may not need a wetsuit because the climate and water temperature. Good to have if you surf in colder water.
  • Sunblock: Just because you’re in the water, doesn’t mean that the sun can’t get you. Protect your face and ears with some water proof sunblock of a zinc oxide stick or lotion.
  • Plastic Bag: Super useful trick I picked up from a friend! If your wetsuit is damp, it can be quite a challenge to get into it. To ease getting in, put a plastic bag around your foot and slide on in.
  • Large Bin: For you to put your used wetsuit and swim gear into after surfing. Add water and some wetsuit cleaner to it so it can keep your suit clean, repel odors, and ensure that the the materials last longer.
  • Towel, Water, and Snacks: Dry off, stay quenched, and refuel!


Lastly, before you head out into the water, be sure to check the surf report, only attempt waves that are within your experience level, and become familiar with surf etiquette. Just like sharing the road with your car or bike, it’s important to know how to share the open water as well so that you and others stay safe. According to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, keep these 5 rules in mind:

  • Donโ€™t Drop In On Another Surfer
  • The Surfer Closest To The Peak Has Right-Of-Way
  • Paddling Surfer Yields To Surfer Riding Wave
  • Donโ€™t Ditch Your Board
  • Donโ€™t Be A Snake

Now that you have some of the basics down, go out and dive right in!

For those of you who do surf, what’s your favorite thing about it and what other advice would you offer to those just getting started?


  1. I’ve only tried surfing once, in Costa Rica, and ended up with giant bruises on my hips! I need to take some of your tips so I can check this one off my bucket list ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. My tip for someone would be to take like a half-day lesson first, that’ll give a decent overview/taste of if someone will really be into it, and then if that’s successful, do a one-week surf camp. I did a three-hour class in Santa Cruz and then liked it enough to do a one-week surf camp in Spain. Think I would’ve been miserable if I would have done the camp and then realized after the first day that it wasn’t for me. Like you, I seemed to be more intimidated by surfing then other water sports, but hoping to get into it more now that I’ve moved back to California.

    • Excellent advice, Spencer! I didn’t even think about a surf camp. I bet that would be a great way to improve your skills once you already know you’re hooked. When did you first start surfing? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hey Akvile, (Great name BTW!)

    I grew up surfing. Since I was 5, I’ve always been in the ocean. In my teens, I even became a competitive surfer. That being said & after all these years, I still feel the thrill of it today & I love hearing about the feeling that newbies get when they surf for the first time. It takes me back. A big chunk of my Bucket List has been to surf different legendary surf breaks around the world.

    Watch-out because is radically addictive. Better yet, I feel there is nothing on earth like surfing. You get to really tune-in to nature & experience its awesomeness.

    • Thank you so much for kind words and surfing feedback, Trav! That’s amazing that you were able to pick it up at such a young age. I just started earlier this year but I’m totally hooked now. That’s awesome that you have a surfing bucket list. It’s great to incorporate experiences based on your hobbies! What are some of your favorite surf spots around the globe? ๐Ÿ™‚

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