When you think of surfing, your mind likely strays to the hot, sandy beaches of Hawaii or even the tropical, jungle side waves of Costa Rica.
However, surfing is a sport that has taken the globe by storm and has therefore become popular in places with all kinds of climates.
In fact, despite its year-round cold water, Washington state has surprisingly become one of the best surf spots in the US. Its many beaches are also great for beginners, as they provide a great variety of waves but still remain far less busy than some of the more world-famous surf spots.
If you fancy learning something new or want to fine-tune your surf skills, check out our list of the 10 best surfing lessons and surfing schools in Washington below.
Each one has been hand-selected according to the quality of surf coaching and the overall experience they provide.
We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide, to ensure that you pick a surf lesson provider that can give you everything you need!
Surf Ballard is one of Seattle’s premier spots to purchase surf and stand up paddleboarding gear.
However, the renowned shop also runs a Summer Surf Camp! Their package includes 4 surfing lessons which span over 3 days, the use of top-quality gear (including surfboards, wetsuits, booties, and gloves), and all meals and snacks.
The itinerary is jam-packed full of surfing, with additional time to relax with your fellow surf students. To ensure that each student gets exactly what they need from the experience, there is a maximum of just 8 students at the surf camp at one time.
Thanks to the small breaks available in the area, Surf Ballad Surf Camp is able to take on students of all fitness levels and swimming abilities.
- Partially inclusive – All meals, equipment rental, and surfing lessons are included.
- Small group – ensures safety and personalized lessons.
- All swimming abilities – total beginners are welcome.
- Accommodation – have to find somewhere to stay yourself.
Another great place to learn to surf in Seattle is the Washington Surf Academy. They run regular lessons in surfing, standup paddle boarding, rafting, and kayaking, each run by experienced instructors with excellent knowledge of the local area.
During sessions, the instructors are clear in their advice and will give you a more thorough understanding of the area.
They also run surf schools throughout the summer, which are a great option for those of you looking for a more intensive surf course.
On the other hand, if you are fairly experienced and would prefer to give it a go by yourself, Washington Surf Academy can provide you with the necessary equipment and friendly advice, so you can explore the waters safely!
- Experienced instructors – provide great coaching and advice.
- Surf camps available – great for a more intensive surf course.
- Equipment – available to rent.
- Wetsuit rental – not included in the price of a surf lesson.
The guys at Steepwater Surf Shop have to be some of the best in the business. They are full of knowledge and advice that they readily pass onto customers looking for top-quality equipment. Rather than just being limited to good customer service, they also offer their own group surf lessons.
Their lessons are tailored for beginner and intermediate level surfers and are usually 90 minutes long.
They teach surfboard positioning, paddling, safety, etiquette, and how to stand up and fall properly. There is a maximum of five students to each instructor, and all ages from 6 years old are welcome!
- Knowledgeable instructors – provide great coaching and safety.
- Small groups – ensure everyone gets what they need.
- 6 years and over – suitable for most ages.
- Price – surf lessons and rental equipment tend to be a little more expensive than other providers.
Now, Salmon Bay Paddle Classes generally don’t offer traditional surfing lessons. However, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, they are a perfect choice.
In addition to providing standup paddleboarding and kayaking lessons, they also offer Surf Ski classes. A surf ski is a high-performance sit-on-top kayak, generally known for racing. Though, they are super fun to use in the surf too!
They offer beginner, intermediate and advanced surf ski lessons, which focus less on competitive racing technique and more on having fun whilst surfing, downwinding, and touring in the tidal rapids of Deception Pass.
The instructor has an in-depth experience of the local waters and a wealth of knowledge regarding the sport itself so can ensure a super fun, well-informed day on the water!
- Surf Ski Classes – ideal for people wanting to try something different.
- All abilities – Beginner, intermediate and advanced classes are available.
- Experienced instructor – provides a safe, informative, and fun experience.
- Surf Ski – not for everyone.
Skookum is a top-quality surf lesson provider, claiming that one lesson with their instructors is equivalent to surfing between 10 to 15 times by yourself. Their lessons have been honed over the last 12 years to provide their customers with an accelerated learning experience.
They focus on nurturing the specific skills required to be able to move and catch waves more efficiently whilst also remaining safe and having a blast.
They base their lessons on the Long Beach Peninsula which is perfect for beginners. It is a sandy beach with consistent surf, warm water temperatures from spring to fall, and very few crowds.
The lesson aims to cover the core surf skills such as paddling, timing, safety, awareness, and optimal biomechanics, whilst also being tailored to each individual’s skill level and goals. All you need to take with you is a towel, swimsuit, and a snack!
- Well-developed program – means you’ll learn to surf in no time.
- Long Beach Peninsula – a great spot for beginners.
- Minimal fitness necessities – you just need to be able to swim the length of a pool.
- Beginner-focused – not ideal for intermediate or advanced-level surfers.
Big Foot Surf School strives to give you your perfect surf experience. Whether you just wanted to tick surfing off your bucket list, or desire to become a regular, committed surfer, the guys at Big Foot Surf School will make sure that you have all of the information, equipment, and coaching necessary to reach your goals.
They have a combined total of 40 years of experience surfing the local area and coaching beginner, intermediate, and advanced level surfers. They offer private and semi-private levels, are Red Cross Certified First Responders, and specialize in all levels of surf coaching.
Big Foot Surf School provides the most comprehensive surf lesson in the Westport area.
- Very experienced instructors – provide excellent surf coaching.
- All abilities – they offer beginner, intermediate and advanced coaching.
- Private and semi-private lessons – something for all budgets.
- Price – a slightly more expensive option than some others listed.
Northwest Surf Lessons operate on the border of Washington and Oregon and are a great option if you’re looking for some top-quality surfing instruction. Their instructors are CPR certified and have over 20 years of combined surf instructing experience.
In fact, their specific training means they understand the ocean conditions incredibly well and will work to pass on this knowledge to their students.
Unlike other surf schools, Northwest Surf Lessons will take students to one of three beginner-friendly, family-friendly beaches: sands beach, ecola state park, or arcadia beach. Each of these beaches is a large, beautiful cove that ensures minimal wind disruption and a super safe learning environment.
They offer private single lessons, private 2-person lessons, and private 3-person lessons. They provide lessons for larger groups and parties, but you have to contact them to discuss the details.
- Experienced instructors – provide high-quality, safe surf instruction.
- Beaches – perfect for beginners.
- Range of group sizes – something for every occasion and every budget.
- Beginner-focus – not ideal for intermediate or advanced surfers.
Whether you’re out for a day trip and want to try surfing, or are on holiday with friends for the week and want to spend as much time in the water as possible, La Push Surf Adventures have you covered. They include all the gear necessary, so all you have to do is show up with a willingness to give it a go!
Their lessons include discussions on water safety and ocean awareness, as well as wave knowledge and surfing etiquette. They focus on paddling technique and board positioning, to ensure that you leave your lesson with all the necessary skills.
- Focus on water safety and ocean awareness – very safe and informative lessons.
- Customizable lessons – contact La Push and they will try to cater to your specific circumstances.
- Experienced instructors – lead great coaching sessions.
- Gear rental – If you’re not taking a surf class, they do not offer gear rental. This isn’t really a big problem, but if you planned on using the kit after the lesson in your free time, you will not be able to do so. Instead, you can source kits from elsewhere.
North by Northwest Surf Co. is a great provider of extreme sporting experiences!
They believe that the North Coast of the Olympic Peninsula is one of the last remaining stretches of true wilderness in the continental US, and should be both enjoyed and also treated with the utmost respect.
They hope to teach people how to enjoy all the outdoors has to offer in a productive and harmless way.
Their surf lessons include the use of all the necessary gear, and you can continue using that gear in the local area for two hours after the lesson has ended! In addition to group and private sessions, they also provide all-girls surf camps, family camps, learn-to-surf mini-camps, and party camps.
If you’re done with the surf, they also run standup paddleboarding tours and even backcountry snowboard tours!
- Good ethic – environmentally friendly ethic.
- Gear rental – can continue to use surf equipment for 2 hours after the lesson ends.
- Other activities – paddle boarding and snowboarding.
- Good value – more budget-friendly options available than others on this list.
- Website – there is little information on the website regarding the different surfing abilities they teach. If you’re interested, be sure to contact them to find out!
Ok, so Kite Paddle Surf doesn’t provide the normal kind of surfing lessons. However, if you fancy something a little more extreme, they do offer kiteboarding lessons!
Their IKD and PASA certified instructors work to teach the sport of kiteboarding to a very high standard. They offer separate beginner and intermediate courses, wherein they aim to leave you feeling comfortable in the water.
Their courses usually consist of three sessions, each of which is three hours long. By the end of the third lesson of the beginner’s course, students generally have an incredible knowledge of the sport and are super confident whilst kiteboarding.
Also, if you’re not quite ready to go home after your session and fancy some more time in the water, you can rent surfing or stand up paddle boarding equipment from Kite Paddle Surf.
- Kiteboarding – a fun extreme sport to try.
- Experienced instructors – provide a high-quality, informative experience.
- Gear rental – surf gear is available to rent.
- Kiteboarding – no surf lessons are available.
Trying to pick a particular provider of surfing lessons can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never surfed before. To make sure that you choose the right lessons for you, check out our handy buyer’s guide below.
It consists of some useful tips to consider and keep in mind as you make your all-important choice.
First, it’s important to check whether equipment rental is included within the price of your surfing lesson.
Although most surf lesson providers will definitely have the necessary gear on hand for you to use, sometimes it comes at an extra cost, which can be a nasty surprise if you haven’t budgeted for it!
It is also necessary to find surf lessons that are appropriate for your surfing ability. This is especially important if you are booking a private lesson for a group of you.
If some of you are total beginners, whilst others are more advanced, it’s a good idea to contact the provider to ensure that everyone can be catered for. The last thing you want is for beginners to be intimidated by intense equipment and massive waves!
If you are going through an extreme sports phase, it might be fun to visit somewhere that can satisfy the thrill-seeker in you, by offering multiple different activities in addition to surf lessons.
For instance, some of the surf schools we included above also offer kiteboarding, stand up paddle boarding, and even snowboarding!
Sometimes, one or two random surf lessons can be fun, but they often leave you wanting more. If you’re looking for a more intensive surf course, you might be better suited to a summer surf camp!
These are usually one weekend to one week long, and include multiple daily surf lessons, and ample free time for you to explore the waves yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Surfing Safe?
As long as you are learning to surf with experienced instructors who have a good knowledge of the ocean and who can communicate safety considerations well, it is a very safe sport.
However, if you have very little experience within the water and have no understanding of the ocean, surfing alone could be potentially very dangerous. We advise you to always surf with experienced instructors to ensure your safety.
Do I Need To Bring My Own Equipment?
No. All of the surf lesson providers above will offer you the use of their equipment. However, if you want to use your own gear, you are always welcome to do so!