Visiting Orange County is a unique experience. OC has some of the most amazing beaches in the world and a whopping 278 days of sunshine on average per year.
OC is one of the most popular spots for surfing in the world, and understandably so. The waves in California are phenomenal and most importantly, consistent.
The California coast offers every kind of wave right, lefts, point breaks, big waves and small ones so if you’re a wannabe surfer or seasoned pro head down to the surf for an epic experience.
Let’s look at some top surfing schools in OC and how to get prepared for the ultimate trip to the sunshine coast.
1. Corky Carroll’s Surf School
This popular surf school is ideal for any ability and has a range of courses on offer. There are a variety of children’s camps, and they provide 1-1 tuition, group classes and more advanced courses for those with some experience.
They run week-long camps all through the summer and provide all the equipment needed, including wetsuits for the cooler days.
The website has all information about times and prices, as well as details of how to apply and what to expect. There are programs for older children, complete beginners and advanced adults, so there’s something for everyone.
2. Learn To Surf
This school is a good choice for children and adults alike. They offer customized surf training from qualified instructors. For beginners, they go through the fundamentals of surfing and how to stay safe on the water.
For those that are happy to learn in a group, they offer 2-hour sessions with other keen surfers. You can learn with friends, colleagues, or family and lessons are usually 2 instructors per 4-5 people.
Courses are based on your level and range from beginner, intermediate and advanced. The website offers some virtual training for those who wish to consolidate what they learn after the formal lesson.
3. California Surf Experience
The California surf experience is run from the famous Laguna Beach and is one of the best surf schools around. You will learn all the best surfing techniques such as paddling, timing, how to ride a wave and how to read the surf.
The school caters for all abilities and group sizes with customizable options. Prices are reasonable and range from 1.5-hour lessons to full days.
The instructors have a wealth of experience and include professional competition level surfers and those who have travelled and surfed in lots of different countries.
4. Cali Surf School
Houtan and Alex, the owners of Cali Surf school, are passionate about the ocean and surfing is a massive part of their lives.
They have travelled around the globe surfing and developed a great love for the activity, which prompted them to open a surfing school.
They offer lessons and share their in depth knowledge and experience of the ocean. Furthermore, they teach with a firm belief that everyone can learn to surf, and their positive vibes are contagious to anyone that learns with them.
All equipment is provided, just turn up with sunscreen and water.
The school also offers camps for children that are super popular and helps them build confidence in the water as well as providing an introduction to surfing and all aspects of the ocean.
For children that aren’t confident swimmers, they also offer swim lessons which provide a great foundation for becoming competent surfers.
5. Summer Soul Surf Camp
The Summer Soul surf camp is an established surf school and has been running for 16 years. They specialize in surf training for children aged 9-16 and offer training on sea safety, healthy eating and beach activities in a super fun environment.
Josh Baxter, owner of the surf camp, is a professional longboarding champion with 40 years of experience riding the waves throughout the world and comes from a family of surfers, so you’re guaranteed to be in good hands.
If you’re planning on sending your children to the school, be sure to book in advance as spaces are booked up fast.
6. Salty Surf Camp
Another surf camp based on Huntington beach, Salty Grom provides certified instructors and a fun, action-packed summer surfing experience for children and adults alike.
They provide 5 day-long camps during the summer and sessions are 4:1 meaning each person gets 1-1 attention during lessons if needed.
Surf camps and 1-1 lessons are available for ages 5 + with all equipment provided. For the little ones, they offer a unique program for 5-7 year olds to prepare them for the ocean in a fun and safe way.
They also offer events such as team building, parties and corporate events suitable for up to 60 people. Check out their website and take some time to read the blog, which is full of useful information.
7. JPs Surf Camp
JPs Surf Camp is owned by Jonathan Pierce and has 25 years of surfing experience.
He is a qualified teacher with a Master’s in Education, so his teaching techniques are informed by his knowledge of how people learn and how to impart knowledge effectively.
He loves kids and the ocean and his school has blended these passions together, making this surf camp a popular option for wannabe surfers.
The school offers several programs and lesson options every day of the week. Prices are reasonable, and group classes are small to ensure everyone has the opportunity for individual help when needed.
8. Endless Sun Surf School
This long-standing school was established way back in 1963 and is the only original school in Newport. The school is open all year round and offers lessons to adults, kids, and those with varying abilities.
There are summer courses, camps and after school activities. Check out their website for videos on lessons, they are fun and safe, and the school has taught thousands of people to learn to surf throughout the years.
The school has 11 instructors, all of whom have been surfing most of their lives and bring to the school a wealth of experience and passion.
Wavehuggers offer lessons at a selection of the popular beaches in Orange County. You can choose from 2-hour lessons to halday, full days or a full week crash course.
With a nice mix of male and female instructors, they are all passionate about their jobs and share that enthusiasm with everyone they teach. Their energy is evident, and the school has great reviews.
A unique feature of this school is they offer surf therapy designed by a therapist qualified in trauma-related illness. The 8-week course helps participants heal from past trauma through self-love, yoga, and community.
The ocean provides a wonderful backdrop for mindfulness and has provided many with a healing experience from symptoms of PTSD.
10. Serene Waters Surf Adventures
James, the founder of Serene Waters, started surfing at the tender age of 7 and has since travelled to many destinations riding the waves. He’s been teaching since 2014 and is fully qualified in water safety and first aid.
With extensive knowledge of the local surf, you are guaranteed to be in safe hands.
They offer 1-1 and group sessions for 1-4 people, ideal for a group of friends. They also provide the opportunity to get photos taken to capture the happy moments on the surf, what’s not to love!
Heading to Orange County for some surfing fun in the sun is exciting, and now you have some idea of the surf schools available it’s time to start creating a budget for the trip, so what do you need to consider?
Meal Price Range
Meal prices in OC are variable. There are plenty of fast food restaurants that are cheap and filling but there’s also the option of heading to an upper market establishment depending on your requirements.
You could plan for a 70/30 percentage; 70% eat cheaply and 30% treat yourself, which allows you to budget effectively. If you plan to go self-catering and not eat out, you can reduce costs substantially.
Most surf schools provide the equipment as part of the payment package, so you won’t need to worry about factoring in extra money.
Prepaid SIM Card
You may be thinking about leaving your smartphone at home to avoid any extra phone charges when abroad, however you probably still want to be able to stay contactable, especially in a foreign county.
Prepaid SIM cards are ideal as you can receive calls free of charge, and you only pay for calls and texts you actually use.
You can also use it with your current smartphone, so for the holiday you can swap SIMS to save you an uninvited bill at the end of the month.
If you’re not planning on hiring a car when in OC, there are plenty of low-cost options to get around. Octa buses run throughout the cities with 77 routes and 6000 bus stops.
If you’re travelling locally fares cost as little as $2 for one trip, or you can purchase a day pass for $5 and ride as many times as you want, this is the most economical way to get around OC.
An alternative to bus travel is the train. The Metrolink is an effective travel option throughout California and offers one way, 10 days and monthly passes.
Hiring a car is a great way to get around OC and will provide more independence. The current average price of gas sits at $4.429, so you can use this figure to work out gas prices for your holiday.
Types Of Risks
As is the case with any sport, surfing comes with risks associated with the ocean such as riptides that can be very dangerous if you don’t know how to deal with them. What other risks are there?
Surfboard accidents are common and can cause a nasty injury if not handled correctly, so be sure to follow instructions carefully.
Be careful when walking on the seabed, rocks, and creatures lurk under there, and you don’t want any foot injuries that will prevent you from enjoying the remainder of your surfing camp.
You should probably watch out for marine life too. Although sharks are rare they do still appear from time to time so be prepared just in case.
There are also some nasty stinging sea animals such as stingrays and jellyfish; give them a wide berth.
How To Prepare
Planning a holiday is exciting, but there’s lots to remember. It’s useful to make a plan to help you remember everything and ensure you have all you need when you depart.
What do you need to prepare?
If you’re planning on spending more than a few weeks in OC and want to work there for a while, you will need a Visa. Temporary work visas are easy to obtain, and you can make an application online.
You will generally need to schedule an interview with the embassy in California, and the fee will cost between $150-200.
There are no formal vannine required to enter California, however you may not be able to get into certain indoor venues without a valid COVID-19 vaccination certification and is worth checking out beforehand.
Language And Currency
English is the main language spoken in California, and the currency is dollars. It’s worth finding out the exchange rate of the country you are travelling from to inform your budget and help you prepare.
Checking Surf Forecast
When you start surfing, you’ll soon learn how to check the surfing forecast to check conditions. A surf report can be tricky to understand for those at the beginning of their surf journey.
The information in a surf forecast will tell you the swell size, which equates to the size of the current waves.
For example, the forecast may say swell size is 2-3 M (4-9ft) which for seasoned surfers is good surf, but beginners may struggle to keep up and may want to avoid waves that big.
Waves that are under 1 meter are better for beginner practice.
When you read the term swell period, it refers to the time period of a specific wave, so the time it takes a wave to pass a specific point. The longer the swell period, the more exciting it is to surf.
Swell direction and wind direction are quite self-explanatory. Learning the direction of waves and wind will help you identify the best place to surf on any given day.
The tide is specific to each beach, so learning the local lingo will help you understand the patterns and behavior of local tides.
Most travel insurance covers water sports as part of the main insurance plan, however you should double-check just in case.
Some sneaky insurance companies add a small print that says extreme sports such as surfing or diving are not included. If it’s not included, be sure to pay extra to add it to the cover.
As mentioned earlier, surfing does come with certain risks, and you don’t want to find yourself in hospital with no insurance policy to cover the cost of treatment.
There you have it, a comprehensive guide to surf schools in OC and how to prepare for an awesome time in the sunshine making memories and living the dream. Happy surfing!!