While there are plenty of ways to enjoy the beach, there’s nothing
quite like paddling out to catch a wave. If you are just learning how
to surf, head to these beaches for the best beginner waves.
It was one perfect moment of bliss: My heart was pounding, my knees
were a bit shaky, and I was slightly terrified that it was all going
to come crashing down around me—but then the stars aligned. At that
moment, everything came together in a heart-stopping, fist-pumping
experience that seemed to last forever (even though, in all
likelihood, it was about 10 seconds).
I was in love.
Not with one of the shaggy haired, boardshorts-wearing boys that
were scattered on the beach (that would come later). No, I was in love
Surfing is on many people’s adventure
travel bucket list, and for good reason: It’s a rush and a
completely unique way of enjoying the water. However, picking the
right place to learn makes all the difference. In addition to small,
manageable waves, you also want a fairly long beach that will give you
time to get up on the board, and excellent teachers. If your vacation
dreams include catching the perfect wave, pack your bag with everything
you need for a surf adventure and head to one of these five
beaches that are great for budding surfers.
The first time that I awkwardly stood up on a surfboard was in
Sayulita, Mexico. This town on the Pacific side of Mexico just north
of Puerto Vallarta is a great place to learn: The waves are small, the
teachers are super patient, and there are several beach bars with
frosty beers waiting for you when you’re spent. The crowds have found
Sayulita (I blame Bachelor in Paradise), but if you go in off-season
or sign up for a surf camp, you’ll have a chance to sample these sweet
waves for yourself.
Yes, Hawaii is known for some pretty serious waves, but you don’t
have to start your surfing journey with the pros. Instead, head to
Waikiki, a lovely area on the protected, south side of Oahu. Here,
you’ll find plenty of waves that are perfect for beginners. As the
birthplace of modern surfing, you’ll find options for lessons and
rentals which will make cruising the main breaks of Queens and Canoes
with their long, forgiving waves, a piece of vacation cake.
Byron Bay, Australia
I only had two days in Byron Bay, Australia, but I knew that
spending at least a few hours on a surfboard was a must. Byron Bay is
one of the most popular surf spots in Australia, and features a wide
variety of different breaks for suffers at all levels. I’m always a
fan of lessons—I’m guaranteed to learn something new and there’s no
better way to find the best breaks than from the people who surf them
all the time. Our instructor took us to The Pass, a great beginners’
point-break wave. Not only did the wave break slowly, but the run out
was super long, making it easier to stand up to enjoy the ride.
Kuta Beach, Bali
There are plenty of expert waves in Bali, but
there are also places that are suitable to beginners, too, such as the
shallow waters of Kuta Beach. More than five-miles long, Kuta Beach is
separated in three main areas (Kuta Beach, Legian Beach ,and Seminyak
Beach), so there are plenty of different spots to choose from. With
smaller waves and a sandy bottom, it’s a great place to perfect your
paddling and get up on the board.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for its multitude of surf spots for all levels
of surfers. Though there are several beaches with gentle waves, Playa
Tamarindo is one of the most popular. Yes, there will be crowds, but
the beach is big enough to share and there are plenty of rental shops
and surf schools here. The sandy bottom makes the occasional fall
bearable and the vibe of the town will make you feel like a you’re a
pro in no time.
Wherever you travel on your first surfing adventure, keep these tips
- Give yourself a break. Surfing is unlike any other sport, so
go easy on yourself if it takes a while to pick up. It can take a
lot of paddling to find the perfect wave, so just relax and go with
- Be one with the sand. Everything you own is
going to be sandy (and most likely damp). Packing
cubes are a great way to keep the sand at bay and protect your
dry clothes from your wet ones.
- Surfing is social. Yes,
you’ll be tired after a day on the board, but don’t turn in for the
night just yet. Bring a small, water
repellent bag with some dry clothes, wet wipes, aloe (surfer
burn is real!), and lip balm so you can do a quick change before
meeting your new friends out to relive your surfing glory.
Have you tried surfing? Where did you first catch a wave? Tell us in
the comments below!
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Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Trip Packing List: What to Pack to Ride the Waves
The Best Winter Surf Escapes
What to Do in
Bali: 5 Can’t-Miss Adventures