How Hard Is Surfing To Learn? - Green Iguana Surf Camp

How Hard Is Surfing To Learn?

Surfing is a favorite hobby for so many people across the globe, and for good reason. It’s incredibly fun, allows you to feel closer to nature, and it’s a good challenge.  But how challenging is it, really?

How Hard Is Surfing To Learn?

Have you thought about getting into surfing for a while, but you feel like it might be too hard? When a beginner sees a veteran surfer carving up waves, it may seem like an unachievable skill to even think about acquiring.

Of course, to be an advanced surfer will take many years of consistent practice in the ocean, but remember; everyone has to start somewhere. 

It can be a daunting task when you first get on that board and try to catch your first wave.  If the conditions are good, though, most newbies can stand up and ride a wave within their first hour of practicing. 

Many seasoned surfers will tell you that with surfing has a pretty smooth learning curve, and it doesn’t take people long to get started, as long as they are determined.

The most important thing is to not get discouraged if you can’t do it at first. If you quit then you’ll never get it.

Just like any sport, surfing also requires a certain degree of psychical fitness and athletic ability, along with a determined mentality and the ability to persevere.

When you’re first learning how to surf, you’ll inevitably fall off your board. A lot! So it’s essential that you don’t get mad or disheartened.

Simply pick up your board and try again.  It can be an arduous process but in the end, it’ll be a rewarding experience.  

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Surf?

The amount of time it will take before you’re riding waves will be determined by a few factors, including the conditions you’re surfing in, how old you are, and how much natural talent you have.

If everything is just right, then you may find yourself standing up on that surfboard and riding your first wave within the first hour.

Now this may sound like a pipe dream to some, but remember, this is a best case scenario. Younger newbie surfers often take to it easier.

This may be because of their increased neuroplasticity and physical capabilities, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a little long in the tooth. It’s never too late to learn how to surf, but if you’re a little older, you may need to adopt a little more patience. 

The moment you step up onto that board, bingo! You are a surfer. It may take an hour, maybe two, maybe even a few days or more, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

It’s important to remember that it takes many tries to get the hang of surfing. With this in mind, you should attempt to stand up on every single wave that you catch. Eventually, you’ll ingrain the movements into your muscle memory, and it will become second nature to you.  

Once you get those movements down, you’ll be able to surf pretty much any wave you catch. As soon as the muscle memory has been established, then you’ve got it, and you can surf.

It’s like riding a bike in that sense. You’ll never forget it, just like how you’ll never forget the experience of surfing your first wave and the joy you’ll feel as a result. 

If you can’t get it in your first session out in the waves, don’t despair. There’s always next time. Those waves will still be there rolling away tomorrow and the next day. Just come back later and give it another try. You will get the hang of it eventually. 

The most essential thing is that you have fun, because that’s what surfing is all about. You may wipe out hundreds of times and feel frustrated, but keep at it. Once you get it, all your hard work will have paid off.

How Hard Is Surfing To Learn?

Whether you want to get out there on the waves and teach yourself how to surf, or if you plan on taking lessons, there are a few things you should consider before grabbing your surfboard and wetsuit and heading out to the beach. Let’s look at some of these things in more detail.

What Is Your Physical Condition? 

Surfing is a lot more physically demanding than you might think. Duck diving, paddling, in addition to the process of popping up on the surfboard gets very exhausting after a while, particularly when you’re first getting started. 

If you aren’t in particularly good shape, you will find yourself getting even more tired and exasperated in those early surf sessions.

If you’re a little overweight, you will likely struggle more to pop up onto your surfboard. Lighter individuals have a big advantage when it comes to jumping up onto their feet upon the surfboard. Heavyset surfers will find this process a lot more taxing on their joints and muscles.

Before going out onto the waves, you should make sure that you’re physically capable of the type of excursion necessary for surfing.

If you can exercise for 30 to 45 minutes with no issues, then you should be able to do a decent amount of surfing before you get too tired.  

You also need to be a competent swimmer before venturing out into the ocean. Surfing, of course, occurs out in the sea, albeit normally in shallow waters.

If you do get out of your depth away from your board, you must be able to swim competently enough to get yourself back to shore.  

What Are Your Expectations?

A lot of people are drawn to surfing because of the way that the sport is depicted in movies, TV, magazines and advertisements.

The surfer lifestyle tends to be glorified and romanticized by the media. If you’re going into surfing with a kind of idyllic sense of the sport, it might be a good idea to lower your expectations a little.  

As you’re just stating out, you will certainly not be riding any 30 foot waves any time soon. The best and only thing a beginner surfer should do is start small and work your way up gradually.  

Don’t overthink the process, just enjoy it and feel it in the moment. Don’t pay too much attention to what other people are thinking about you, just focus on yourself and on the present moment while you’re out there on the waves. 

If you find yourself wiping out constantly, just take a step back and catch some waves on your belly, and try to get a feel for it. Progression takes a lot of time in this sport, and it takes a lot of trial and error before you are able to pop up on waves consistently. 


Surfing is a sport that is attractive to many people, but only a few people stick with it consistently. Those who do, however, fall in love with it and become lifelong surfers.

If you want to be a surfer, then all you need is the passion and determination to succeed, and, of course, a surfboard.

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