The 10 Best Surfing Lessons & Surfing Schools In California

Surfing is up there with one of the most fun sports around. Spending time in the ocean and mastering all the techniques needed to be a successful surfer is a great hobby. Surfing enthusiasts everywhere will tell you once you have the bug, surfing sports can be somewhat addictive.  

Learning how to surf gives your body a complete workout. Using every muscle is a fantastic way to keep fit and tone up.

Not only is it exercise for the body  but the mind gets a thorough workout too. Mastering surfing techniques requires concentration and control, and for more experienced surfers the activity is a calming way to escape from the stresses and strains of modern life. What’s not to love? 

For some, surfing will only ever be an activity to enjoy on holiday. However, for those lucky enough to live in a consistently sunny area like California with fantastic beaches, surfing can be incorporated into everyday life and enjoyed regularly.

If you’re new to surfing, on holiday or a resident in sunny California, where can you find great instructors and schools to support your learning journey? Read on for more information.  

1. DFROST ALMUGAR 

This unique surfing school combines surfing and yoga for the ultimate active and relaxing retreat. There are a variety of packages available to suit all skill levels.  Some offer daily group surfing lessons. There are some options for more experienced surfers allowing for more autonomy on the waves. 

For those that want an all in 1 package including surf, yoga and fantastic cuisine there’s a great choice depending on what services and amenities you want included. The Dfrost Almugar certainly is a wonderful treat for surf and yoga lovers everywhere. 

Pros

  • Suitable for all levels
  • A choice of packages 
  • Great for Yoga lovers 

Cons

  • Not a regular lesson option

2. HOKALI 

This fantastically situated surfing school is famous for its surrounding beaches and is a great choice for budding surfers. With an impressive surfing culture, it’s a unique place to meet others who share your passion for surfing. 

It couldn’t be easier to book lessons here with an efficient online booking system as a three-step process. You’ll be connected to your coach 24 hours before the lesson, where you can arrange a meeting point.  There are several locations to choose from for your convenience. 

If you’re a novice surfer, the coach will take you through everything you need to know about safety at sea and set about showing you the basics. For more experienced surfers, you’ll learn how to improve skills to interpret waves and sea conditions. 

You will also have access to video tutorials to allow you to continue learning after your lesson. There will be an opportunity to take an exam and meet up with others for social events. 

Pros

  • Fantastic beaches 
  • Easy booking system 
  • Great reviews 

Cons

  • No free parking near beaches 

3. One Wave Surf

One Wave Surf offers classes as groups or 1-1. Run by Tyler Tryfas who has a Masters in Education and 15 years as a Surfer, you’re sure to get a high quality teaching experience. 

Lessons cover basic techniques such as balancing and paddling, and for advanced surfers there are specific lessons to help improve existing skills. 

One great advantage of this school is that it started out as being a business that specializes in refurbishing surfboards as a means of contributing to a sustainable environment.

If you’re just starting out, you can purchase a surfboard at a fraction of the cost of most surfboards. You can discuss requirements with the company, who will assist you in buying the right board for you. However, It’s not a requirement to own a board for lessons, everything is provided.

Pros

  • Choice of group or 1-1 lessons 
  • All equipment provided 
  • Central location 

Cons

  • Popular so advanced booking required 

4. Santa Barbara Surf School 

The Santa Barbara school is the best inclusive school in CA.  They offer a great selection of lessons from beginners to advanced. It’s also a great school for kids. They offer summer camps for little ones with the options of full or half days. 

If you fancy a crash course in surfing then some locations offer week long lessons with experienced instructors; you’ll be riding those waves in no time. 

The school is also ideal for those that want a cost-effective option. The open surf lesson is offered for up to 4 people and is a great start for newbies. 

Pros

  • Great for kids
  • Offers budget lessons 
  • Great selection 

Cons

  • Very busy of season 

5. Dawn Patrol Surf 

This popular school offers a talented team of instructors with 20 years of experience.

For beginners, the instructors stay right by your side and until you feel confident. Lessons are 90 minutes, with the first 15 minutes spent out of the water learning about conditions and safety.

You’ll receive comprehensive training that covers paddling and pop up techniques and for the morse advanced lessons will include turns and pumping. Guaranteed to be a thrilling ride from start to finish. 

All equipment is provided, but if you have a specific preference of surfboard there are lots available to rent. If booking a group lesson, they offer a discounted rate, perfect if you want to grab some friends and make it a social activity. 

Pros

  • Discounts for groups
  • Equipment provided 
  • Boards to rent 
  • Slightly cheaper than most schools 

Cons

  • Don’t offer summer camps 

6. RICHARD SCHMIDT 

A well renowned school, Richard Schmidt has been coaching surfers for 28 years. With a wealth of experience, Richard has trained surfers from 3 years old and those well into their senior years.

He even guarantees that new learners will stand up and ride a wave in their first lesson; an enticing reason to check out this amazing school. 

They offer lessons to all abilities and out of season too. With the right wetsuit, surfing can be exhilarating during the wonder months and a great way to ward off those seasonal bugs and boost immunity. They also offer yoga combinations and crash courses for those who want to  learn skills fast. 

Pros

  • One of the longest running schools in CA
  • Extras such as tours and yoga 
  • Video tutorials available 

Cons

  • Not offering summer camps at present 

7. Poseidon Surf School 

The Poseidon school has the distinct advantage of being located directly on the Santa Monica beach. It offers expert lessons and has added extras such as a surf shop and coffee house. No need to worry about leaving belongings on the beach, stash them safely and securely in the shop during the lesson. 

All lessons are 2 hours long, which makes this school great value for money. Group sessions are available at competitive prices. 

Everything you need is included in the price, even the wetsuit, so no excuses for avoiding chilly weather. They even throw in a free coffee from the shop, who doesn’t like a freebie? 

Pros

  • Conveniently located on the beach 
  • On site shop and coffee
  • Extras included 

Cons

  • Very busy in summer 
  • Limited parking 

8. Wave Huggers 

Wave Huggers was founded by Helina Beck, a surfing enthusiast and lover of the ocean. Lessons are diverse, and you can choose individual, group, or community classes. 

This school offers lots of extras such as beach parties that include lessons and free lessons along with a beach cleanup activity. They also offer video coaching from professional surfers to integrate learning after lessons. 

Love how the water makes you feel? Wave Huggers offer a community project that consists of an 8-week course designed to address symptoms of PTSD by using nature, physical activity and mutual connections to heal parts that have been through trauma.

Kids camps are popular, and this school offers a safe and professional introduction into the world of surfing. 

Pros

  • Therapeutic course 
  • Kid’s club 
  • Lots of extras 

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than other schools

9. AquaSurf

Aqua Surf has been voted the best surf school in SoCal. They offer all the usual group and 1-1 lessons, but also specialize in corporate events and team building activities. 

Teen camps are very popular at AquaSurf and facilitate the beginnings of lifelong friendships and community. 

If you have friends or family that have always wanted to head to the ocean and try surfing, then there are several gift options to purchase to get them started. 

Pros

  • Child focused 
  • Extras available 
  • Popular location 

Cons

  • Can be difficult to book 

10. Surf Seaward Training 

Surf Seaward Training offers a unique option for surfing. Highly focused on fitness, they offer training in strengthening core muscles and improving endurance. For a monthly fee, they provide advice and tutorials on how to build the required strength needed for surfing the waves effectively. 

Included in the programs are HIIT workouts, cardio routines and body weight exercises. They also offer swimming workouts to help build your skills in the water and increase power and confidence. There is also advice on unlocking your range of motion, which is crucial to become a proficient surfer. 

Pros

  • Great for those with time constraints
  • Fitness building 
  • Reasonable monthly fee 

Cons

  • Not much interaction with others 

Surfing Guide

It can be daunting knowing what you need when learning how to surf. So here’s a handy guide to get you started. 

Choose The Right School

The right school will make all the difference to how much progress you make. Read as many reviews as you can to see what people are saying.

Choose experienced and qualified teachers and not those that have just set up a side gig. Experienced instructors will provide a much better service and you’ll learn the right techniques as well as safety information. 

The Right Surfboard 

In the early stages it’s wise to use a school that provides equipment for lessons just so you can decide if it’s a sport you wish to pursue. Once you’ve got the surfing bug, you may want to invest in a good quality board, so you can practice skills outside of lessons.

Large soft boards are best for beginners as they are more stable, and it’s easier to develop skills and techniques. A soft board is best for comfort as you will spend some time sitting, especially in the early days. 

The Right Location 

Choosing the right beach for beginner level surfing is vital for success and to avoid frustration. All good instructors will have a good knowledge of beaches and ocean conditions, so will be able to advise you. 

Maintain Fitness Levels 

There’s no doubt about it, surfing is a strenuous sport and physical fitness is paramount to enjoy the best experience. Work on building core muscles and incorporate other exercise and activity outside of surfing classes. 

Mindset 

Learning anything new is bound to come with an element of frustration, so be prepared to fail a LOT. Mastering surfing techniques takes time, and you will need to learn to stand and balance before even attempting to surf. Be patient, learn from mistakes and keep trying. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I spend on a surfboard ?

How much to spend is down to personal finances, but you shouldn’t spend too much initially. Seasoned surfers can pay upward of $1200 for a decent board, but there are lots of options. 

Sites such as eBay offer fairly decent second hand boards, and some shops offer cheaper ranges. Shop around to find a good deal and ask advice from professionals. Starting with a long board is recommended, so look for one at least 8ft (2.44 m) high and with a 20-inch width. 

How do I maintain my surfboard?

In the same way car lovers spend many an hour looking after and polishing their cars, surf lovers share this practice. Looking after your board will ensure you have many years use and protect it from damage. 

The main reason that you’ll find surfers carefully waxing their boards is to eliminate the slippery surface. Fewer slips mean more control and much better ride. Depending on use, surf boards should be waxed 2-3 times per year for optimal performance. 

There you have it, the 10 best surfing schools without further ado it’s time to get wet and enjoy the surf! 

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