Surfing, the archetypal Aussie pastime, something I tried way back in 2010 on a blistering Newquay beach in freezing waters and something I’ve dreamt of doing again in Australia. The first time on the waves I decided to just rent a board and give it a go, as a skateboarder I figured it wouldn’t be too hard! After taking to it quiet well I was desperate to give it another go, this time though we decided to learn the ropes properly, take a lesson and tackle the warm Queensland waves finally! Here are the different options for surf lessons Australia!
The DIY method:
The first time I tried surfing I went straight for the DIY method, if you have experience with other board sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding etc then you might just want to forgo the lessons and give it a go. The first time I did I stood up pretty much straight away and found it pretty easy going, that is, until I got too confident and wiped out!! But that’s all part of learning. Boards can be hired anywhere there is surf all along the coastal regions in the country if you decided to forgo surf lessons Australia. Just be aware that there are additional precautions and information you might want to know before you go it alone:
Safety and general tips:
* Always surf on a beach with a lifeguard when you are inexperienced, you probably can’t surf between the flags but there will be people around if you get into trouble. You should also know about riptides, they are much more dangerous than sharks or jellyfish!
*Try to go to a spot with a good few people around. But also be aware of surf ethics such as snaking other people and generally dangerous and annoying behaviour.
*Watch other people first, see what their technique is, see where the waves are and how they time catching one. Try out standing on the board and paddling on the beach first, whether you will be popping up or getting up in stages. Also figure out your stance first. Are you Goofy (Right foot forward) or Regular (Left foot forward), the best way to do this is to jump on the board and see what you instinctively do. You should then have your leash on your back foot.
*Do you need a wetsuit or a rash vest? It might be hot out but in some parts of the country the water can be cold which could make you cramp up and get into trouble. These can be rented along with your board.
*Go for the small waves and white water first and build up slowly!
*Be careful where you surf. Anywhere north of Agnes Water is beyond the are that is both safe and good for surfing! Look out for reports of jellyfish, sharks, rips, weather etc.
*Rent the right board: Don’t go for the cool looking pointy and hard fibreglass board! These are hard to ride and will hurt if they come flying at you or anyone else. Rent the large Foamie boards, these float easily, they’re soft and easy to ride though they don’t turn too well. But you can get a smaller Foamie once you learn to ride.
Prices vary across the country and state but expect to pay around: $25 for 2 hours / up to $45 for all day.
If you are in the country longer or get really into it many shops sell second hand boards for around $300- $500
The backpacker method: Our first try at learning to surf
Being backpackers we are eternally on a budget and on the lookout for the more inexpensive way to make experiences happen. We heard from other backpackers about some incredibly cheap lessons over in Agnes water and decided to give them a go! Now, they say you get what you pay for and for us, this was partly true with the self declared cheapest surf lessons Australia! I managed to stand up and ride the first wave and by the end of the lesson I was catching waves myself and surfing independently, however Shorty found it a little harder to get the hang of and ended up sitting on the beach and giving up!
A large group, a lack of direction and some luck:
One of the main issues with giving out such a great price for surf lessons Australia is that once the word spreads backpackers flock for these prices! When we turned up on a sunny summer morning there was well over 20 people at the lesson and only 3 instructors.
This meant that we had to queue up in the water, not a bad skill to learn considering how busy some spots get but not ideal for a lesson when you want to keep practicing. We also didn’t have any feedback either as it was a constant flow of surfers and we’d end up with a different instructor each time. Instruction was minimal, paddle, jump up and make sure you fall properly! Pretty much the same method I had used for teaching myself but with at least some practice on dry land first.
Minimal instruction and a quick learning curve
The lessons began with us testing our technique out on the beach first in rows. This all seemed simple enough and easy, we would paddle, feel the wave and paddle harder, then jump up onto your feet, bend your knees and centre yourself… then off you go! Heading into the water we initially would meet our instructor in the water, he would then keep us floating there and tell us when to paddle, when to paddle harder and when to jump up. Essentially taking out the hardest aspect of surfing, timing, and getting us used to riding the waves and balancing! After a while we were left to our own devices to catch waves ourselves and surf properly! It was all pretty hands off for surf lessons Australia!
Mixed fortunes on the waves
Unfortunately, this type of learning is not for everyone and these weren’t the best out of the surf lessons Australia has to offer!
I had the advantage that I had tried surfing before and having had more of an interest had studied technique previously. I am also a better listener… which is turns out is the key when you only get very brief instruction!! Either way, I found this method of instruction great, I took on board the advice, combined it with what I already knew and took to surfing pretty easily. I rode the first wave and almost every on after that. Catching my own was another harder challenge but by the end of the lesson I felt like I had the basics down pretty well and absolutely fell in love with the sport. Personally I am someone who enjoys being left to their own devices, I like to learn but also like to figure things out myself and I don’t do well being overly supervised as I seem to overthink what I do when I know someone is watching me!!
Shorty on the other hand, he didn’t listen too well and though his mistake was simple, it look us looking at the photos after to figure it out ourselves. If the instructors would have had more time for each surfer they would have spotted this straight away and let him know what he was doing wrong. In the end he gave up, making the same mistake over and over is frustrating and with no one to help its easy to loose moral. He wasn’t the only one sat on the beach either and I suspect many others were left disappointed by the “cheapest surf lessons Australia has to offer!”
These lessons are a bargain $17 each, just turn up at the Discover 1770 Shop (at the the Caltex complex, near the surf shop) by 9:45am and pay for your lesson. You can also go back to the shop later and buy photos as well as getting a voucher for money off at the surf shop.
For more info look here: www.discover1770.com.au
Smaller lesson groups: Learning the proper way!
Second try: Finally getting it!
After our lessons in Agnes Water personally I was happy with how well I learnt to surf and felt ready to rent out a board and give it a go ourselves. However Shorty had struggled and I felt honestly bad for him. I knew he could do it, we’re skateboarders after all, but the lessons just didn’t suit him. So heading back down towards Brisbane I researched some more lessons, this time, more expensive but a smaller group and a much more focused instructor. We decided to go with Coolum Surf school, one of the best of the standard priced surf lessons Australia has.
Heading back out in the water with much more detailed instruction
This time we were in a group of 3 and our instructor was much more detailed and was crucially able to give individual feedback, tips and tuition. Even the practice we did on the beach was much more thorough and one of the major things we did this time was to learn to get from laying down to standing in stages rather than just leaping up. This for Shorty was a breakthrough as the all in one movement just didn’t suit him before.
This time the conditions were actually quite a bit more challenging and this also meant that we had to stick to the white water as the waves were too big for beginners, and in all honesty they did look a bit scary! So back on the water I was feeling pretty confident I would be back up and riding the waves but really I was more concerned about Shorty finally standing up and was concentrating more on encouraging him!
Incredible feedback and tuition
With just three people it felt much more like a real lesson than a bit of a free for all as we had experienced before. This time our instructor watched our every move and gave us detailed instructions when we returned to the water about what we did well, what we needed to do differently and also different things to try such as turning. We also retuned to the beach a few times throughout the lesson to give feedback as well as practicing new techniques such as rolling the board over and going underneath a wave to get outback. Overall we felt like we learnt so much more about the technical elements of surfing as well as more safety information.
So, how did we do?!
This time around Shorty managed to stand up on this second or third attempts, basically his problem was in taking too long to get up his feet ended up over the edges of the board and he was too off balance to stand up. Our instructor spotted his straight away and with the new technique for standing up and some more direction he was standing up almost every time after that! I knew he could do it!
Funnily enough I wasn’t as good straight off as I had expected! My new career as a professional surfer that I had planned out for myself wasn’t looking so certain! As I said before, I hate being watched and with the additional pressure I had put on myself, plus a trying out a different technique… yeah, I wiped out straight away!! ha ha. I kept at it though in the tough conditions and in the end learnt a lot more about board control and reading the waves. We were both trying out turning and carving towards the end of the lesson and left thankfully both this time in love with this new hobby and looking forward to trying it out on our own again!
Lessons cost $60 each for 2 hours and will be ran in a much smaller group. When we did it for example it was us two and one other guy. You can also buy photographs afterwards at the surf shop.
For more info look here: www.coolumsurfschool.com.au
So, which one is for you?
It all depends on you, your confidence and how much you want to spend. Personally having done all three I can see the benefits of each. But ideally you should just pay the money, learn the proper way and crucially learn about safety, reading the water and how to fall without injuring yourself so when you do rent on your own you are prepared! There are lots of surf lessons Australia has on offer all around the country, so do some research and find the place for you. Surfing is an incredible sport, you really do feel at one with nature and get to understand the power of the sea in the much more detail. BUT, it’s also bloody brutal too, much more than it may initially seem! You’ll be sore the day after!!
What are you ideas for the best way to take surf lessons Australia or learn by yourself?
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