There’s a reason surfing was invented here at Waikiki. Photo courtesy Shutterstock
The five best places to learn to surf all have a few factors in common: warm water, soft waves, easy access, and loads of expert help. If you think it’s too late to learn to surf, think again. A quick trip to these spots and you’ll be hooked on surfing in no time.
I know what you are thinking. Trying to learn to surf in one of the most famously dangerous surf zones on the planet doesn’t sound like a particularly safe, or sound, idea. However, we are not advocating that you hire a board and paddle at Pipeline for your first foray into surfing. At Waikiki, on the protected, side south side of Oahu, there are loads of waves that seem designed specifically for learners to fall in love with surfing. The main breaks of Queens and Canoes provide long, mushy waves over a forgiving reef. As the birthplace of modern surfing, Waikiki offers options for board hire, and lessons line the beach. Plus there is never a need for a wetsuit. Most important, when you get home, you can tell your friends you tamed the wild waves of Hawaii.
In Barbados, you won’t be too concerned when the surf goes flat. Photo Shutterstock
Surfer’s Point, Barbados
Learning to surf with sea turtles has to be a good thing, right? At Surfer’s Point located at Inch Marlowe on Barbados’ protected southern coast, you’ll be sharing the fun, easy lefthanders with fellow novices, turtles, and annoyingly good 7-year-olds. The wave breaks all year round in warm water in a tropical setting, and one of the main problems will be returning home to expand your newfound skills in a normal surf environment. Zed’s Surfing Adventures is just one local outfit that offers lessons and board hire, and accommodation within a walk to the point is easily available.
The endpoint of the annual European sojourn south for surfers from the colder northern climes, the Moroccan town of Taghazout has been a mini-hippy surf city since the early ’70s. It offers a mix of easy beachbreaks a short walk from town and more challenging sandbottom points just up the road. It seems half of all Scandinavian and a third of German surfers learned to surf in the waves of Taghazoute, and a large learn-to-surf industry is made up of slick operators, who will guarantee you as much Moroccan tea as you can handle and that you will be standing up by the end of your mission. Aim for early autumn, rather than high winter, as the waves are smaller and the weather warmer.
Life is hard as a surfer. Photo Shutterstock
Nosara, Costa Rica
Slightly more protected than some of other well-known Costa Rican surf spots, the town of Nosara has easily accessible beachbreaks within a short walk of a variety of accommodations. Numerous credentialed surf schools offer great, all inclusive packages and there is a chilled-out vibe and friendly locals, not always a given at some other surf spots. On down days (or when the shoulders are sore) head to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, which is famous for its olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations.
Pure beginner stoke in Byron Bay. Photo lexisbyronbay.com
Byron Bay, Australia
It’s impossible to go to Byron Bay and not to learn to surf. The northern New South Whales town is located on Australia’s most easterly point and picks up all available swell. It offers north and south facing coasts on either side of the Lighthouse-topped headland, meaning wind direction is never a problem. The water is warm year-round, and you can choose from empty beachbreaks or more crowded sandbottom points like The Pass. There are numerous surf schools catering to the endless stream of international tourists and even more pubs and clubs to cater to the post-surf thirst. None of the schools will mention the sharks, and so neither will we.