A Guide To Learning How To Surf In Australia: Including Location, Cost & Advice


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 quite 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 for helping you decide which way to go about Learning how to surf here. We’ve also got sections on “How long does it take to learn to surf?”, what to bring and how much it should cost!

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Getting To Australia!

Visa

Don’t forget to check here to see which visa you need or which is best for your visit. There are many options for UK citizens including working holidays visas where you can stay for a year or longer and work, visa wavers for short trips and tourists visas for longer stays such as 6-9 months. Also be sure to check out the Government website before you travel for up to date advice especially during the pandemic.

Flights

Flying to Australia can be expensive especially if you are coming from Europe or America. Check out different airlines and keep an eye out for the sales. We have used Thai to travel between London and Melbourne and found them to generally have good prices and timings. One of the best ways to break up the price and time of such a long journey is to stop off somewhere in Asia first for a few days or even a few weeks or months if you’re travelling longer term. Flights from Asia, particularly places like Bangkok, Singapore, KL, Phuket and Bali and very affordable but again, search around for some favourable routes between different cities.

See Prices For Flights To Australia Here

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Different Options For Learning How to Surf In Australia


The DIY

The first time I tried learning how to surf 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 as it can be quite dangerous… and I’m not just talking about sharks or jellyfish, but riptides mostly!

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learning how to surf: The DIY method!

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My experience of the DIY method was in the UK on a popular surf beach with a lifeguard in close proximity. The waves were fairly tame and my background in board sports meant I picked things up relatively quickly! However, thinking back to Shorty’s experience in Australia, it’s not always so easy and even if you’re a skateboarder you might still want to think about learning how to surf with an instructor.

For me the hardest part about learning how to surf is timing the catching of the wave, probably because it’s something that is totally new even coming from skateboarding. If I was to have first tried surfing in Australia and not the UK, I don’t think I would have used the DIY method. Primarily for safety reasons but also so I learnt in the best way.

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learning how to surf : In Newquay in 2010, My first time surfing on a uni football trip!

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Safety And General Tips For Learning How to Surf On Your Own:

* 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! NEVER surf somewhere quiet and without people around!

* 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. They also protect you from the sun!

*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 area 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. 

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Surf school Sunshine Coast: One of the benefits of lessons is learning about safety! A priority on Aussie beaches!

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Cost:

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



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Surf lessons Sunshine Coast. Disclaimer: It’s not always sunny!!

The Backpacker Budget Group Session: Agnes Water Surf Lessons

Being backpackers we are eternally on a budget and on the lookout for the more inexpensive way to make experiences happen and after grabbing some flights over to Queensland we were on a mission to learn to surf on a budget! We heard from other backpackers about some incredibly cheap lessons decided to give the Agnes Water surf lessons 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! For some learning how to surf they are great, for others, not so much!

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!

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Agnes Water surf lessons: Expect crowds but also an unbeatable price!

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Agnes Water Surf lessons: The Trouble With A Big Group

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. Not the ideal environment for learning how to surf but who can argue with the cost of the Agnes Water surf lessons?!

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. On the Agnes Water surf lessons the instruction was minimal, paddle, jump up and make sure you fall properly!

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Learning how to surf: It came quite naturally to me but the Agnes Water surf lessons aren’t for everyone.

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Minimal Instruction and a Quick Learning Curve

The Agnes Water surf 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!

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Surf school Sunshine Coast: One of the best regions to learn is on the East Coast and the cheapest on offer are the Agnes Water surf lessons.

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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 for those who need a little more instruction.

For me these lessons were good enough, by the end of the session I was surfing with confidence and had essentially been left to my own devices to catch waves on my own. Shorty on the other hand had all but given up and was sat in a disbonded state on the beach. The lack of detailed instruction and crucially feedback left him feeling jaded with the process and he gave up! The instructors didn’t even bat an eyelid as they had their hands full with everyone else! It was a shame as I really enjoyed our Agnes Water surf lessons.

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Learning to surf Gold Coast: One of many incredible locations to give it a “red hot crack!”

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Cost (Cheap Surf Lessons!)

The Agnes Water surf lessons are a bargain $17 each and sold as the “cheapest surf lessons Australia has to offer!” 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 on these cheap surf lessons look here: www.discover1770.com.au

See Prices For Surf Lessons At Lennox Head Here

See Prices For Affordable Surf Lessons At Gold Coast Here

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The closest airport to Agnes Water is Gladstone

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Agnes Water surf lessons: I did well but it’s not a good style for those who need more help.

The Pricey Small Group Session

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 and looking forward to surfing again but was slightly disappointed to not be able to go a bit further out as we had before. But overall I was more concerned about Shorty having a good time and learning to surf in Australia finally!

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Surf school Sunshine Coast: This region is a great place to start including having surf lessons in Mooloolaba.

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Incredible Feedback and Tuition

With just three people it felt much more like a real lesson than 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 once we got the hang of things.

We also returned 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.

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Surf lessons mooloolaba: The town is an ideal place to learn.

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Focus And Progression

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!

Even after I had left the other lessons feeling quite confident I still knew I had a lot to learn. I decided to go with everything I was being taught this time and try these new techniques as well. This way I would have a broader knowledge and skill set for the future. I left this lesson learnt feeling like I had learnt a lot more about board control and reading the waves and rather than being left on my own once I got the basics down I was taught some turning and carving techniques also.

See Prices For Surf Lessons At Noosa Heads Here

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Gold Coast surf school: Look at many different locations for possible lessons on the East Coast.

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Cost:

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

See Prices For Surf Lessons At One Of The Sunshine Coasts Hidden Beaches Here

See Prices For Gold Coast Surf Lessons With A Photo Package Here

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The closest major airport to Coolum is Brisbane

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Surf lessons Mooloolaba


Pros and Cons & Which To Pick?!

DIY, Cheap or expensive lessons? Well, there is arguments for all 3 of them and for backpackers it’s sometimes hard to justify the extra costs involved in getting more personalised lessons!

In terms of safety it’s best to get at least some instruction and learn about riptides and the various dangers out there as well as being under at least some supervision! Surfing is WAY more dangerous than it might first seem! I do think if you have the time then why not give the cheap Agnes Water surf lessons a go and see how you do, if not then get some more private lessons!

Maybe stick to renting a board once you’ve at least had some kind of lesson and make sure you go to a well populated beach! With the question as to “How long does it take to learn to surf?”, though it’s different for everyone we have found that one or two lessons are a good start to get the basics so you can then rent for yourself.

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Expensive or cheap lessons?

Are you just looking to tick learning to surf in Australia off your bucket list or are you actually looking to learn to surf properly? Are you a quick learner with some experience in similar sports? Do you just want some cool pics for “the gram”!

See Prices For Gold Coast Surf Lessons With A Photo Package Here

Have a think, because this could be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby. Or it could just be a bit of fun for the day, experiencing this quintessential Aussie pastime whilst on your trip and nothing else.

That’s not the say the cheap lessons might not be the start of a lifetime of surfing passion, but the more expensive tutoring does lend itself a little more to learning the nuances of reading the waves and being more intune with the conditions.

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!!

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How long does it take to learn to surf? We’ve had a few lessons!



Best Places To Learn To Surf In Australia

So, where are the best places to learn to Surf in Australia? Thinking about Surfing lessons in Brisbane or learning to surf in Sydney? Those are just two of an endless list of amazing places to learn to surf. Want to know where the best place to surf in Australia for beginners is? Where to get cheap surf lessons?

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As you may already know, Australia is a surfing mecca and the country has an abundance of coastline with great conditions for the sport. However you’re going to want to avoid the northern third of the country, anywhere north of around Mackay isn’t great for surfing as the corals dampen the waves and the waters become more prone to sharks, crocs and jellyfish.

The most popular areas for surfing are for sure on the East Coast. The areas stretching towards Noosa and down to Byron Bay and along the Sunshine Coast are perfect. The water temperature here is ideal and the range of places to learn with accessible lessons is unparalleled. Brisbane surfing lessons are also popular as it’s a common point of arrival for many people but you might find it a little crowded!

Other places include Lennox Head in New South Wales and Rainbow Beach in Queensland. Maroubra surf lessons are also a good option for somewhere a little quieter and Surf lessons Coolangatta too and they will often be in smaller groups than Surfing lessons in Brisbane.

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Best beginner surf spots Queensland: Noosa surf lessons sound ideal but there are a lot of experienced surfers here!

See Prices For Surf Lessons At Noosa Heads Here

See Prices For Surf Lessons At Lennox Head Here

See Prices For Surf Lessons At Rainbow Beach with 4×4 experience Here

Around other cities such as Sydney and Melbourne there are plenty of options too. However famous spots like Bondi and Bell’s Beach often have ferocious and wild conditions not suited for beginners. You will also find the waters of Victoria can be uninvitingly cold especially in the winter!

However there are still a lot of opportunities for Bondi Beach surf lessons but a guide is a must given the conditions. But Bondi is of course not the only beach around Sydney and in fact there are many other quieter beaches with conditions better suited to beginners too. Learning to surf in Sydney is also a great idea if you don’t plan on travelling too far around the country or want to tick it off before you leave.

See Prices For Bondi Surf Lessons In A Small Group Here

We found it much easier to find lessons in Queensland and in all honesty even though it’s a cliche, it is the best and easiest place to learn and is the best place to surf in Australia for beginners.

But also choose wisely, Noosa surf lessons sound great but the beaches can be busy with experienced and impatient surfers! Picking quieter areas where the surf is a bit too calm for most surfers but good to learn in is ideal. Agnes Water might be full of backpackers but they are also all beginners too!

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Surf school Sunshine Coast – This is an ideal place to learn.

See Prices For Surf Lessons At One Of The Sunshine Coasts Hidden Beaches Here

See Prices For Gold Coast Surf Lessons With A Photo Package Here

WA and SA also have great beaches with perfect conditions too, but with the smaller number of tourists it might be a little bit harder to find lessons or with less competition you might find them a touch more expensive. Though on the other hand you are less likely to get stuck in an overpack lesson on a crowded beach out there! So it is worth the extra effort and for those learning to surf at 30 or older you might prefer the more laid back vibe.

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What About A Surf Camp?

Surfing Holidays For Beginners

If you’re really serious about learning how to surf properly and gaining a new lifetime hobby then you might want to consider joining a surf camp. Generally these can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks with the average being around a week and make ideal Surfing holidays for beginners.

A common question is “How long does it take to learn to surf?” and whilst it’s a lifetime of learning you can certainly be sure you will have a good level of proficiency to go out there and continue learning yourself whilst having the skills to enjoy the water safely after doing a surf camp.

It’s an intensive and sometimes expensive experience but by the end you’ll be hooked and have all the necessary skills and knowledge to go out there and rip!

Often the packages include accommodation, lessons, equipment hire and food too so they are a perfect surfing holidays for beginners. There are many surf camps but if you’re looking at learning to surf in Sydney or  taking Brisbane surfing lessons then those are two great cities from which to join a camp.

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Brisbane surfing lessons: One of many incredible spots to learn to surf in Australia!



What To Bring To A Surf Lesson

Heading off to your first surf lesson? Here’s want to bring!

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* Sunscreen – Make sure you slap on at least factor 50 and make sure it’s waterproof and long lasting. Even better get some proper surf sunscreen or zinc for your face!

* A Rashie – Many surf schools provide their own branded rash guards for the lessons but it’s best to be prepared. These protect you not only from the sun but from abrasions from lying on the board too.

* Board Shorts – Sure, you can surf in your bikini but board shorts offer more protection from the sun, especially to the backs of your legs when you’re lying waiting for wave. This area is likely to burn as it’s not often as exposed as it is when surfing and it’s often forgotten when applying sunscreen!

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How long does it take to learn to surf? You start by practicing on the beach!

* A Dry Sack – Bring with you a good quality dry bag for you valuables to leave on the beach (if it’s safe to do so). This means you can bring your phone or camera for some quick pics and not worry about them getting damaged.

* A GoPro – I add this with a word of caution. A lesson is a lesson and not a photoshoot! If possible see if the surf lessons come with photos provided so you don’t have to worry about capturing it. If not then wait until you’re confident later on in the lesson and see if your instructor will get a few shots for you. Don’t compromise your safety or learning to get pictures though and be aware that your instructors job is as a teacher not a photographer! For both of our lessons came with a photo package. Don’t forget a floating handle too!

See Prices For Gold Coast Surf Lessons With A Photo Package Here

* A Beach Towel – Pretty self explanatory!

* A Change of Clothes – You might want to keep these back in a locker or car or at least somewhere dry!

* Water – Not only is surfing hard work but guaranteed at some point you’ll end up with a mouthful of sea water!

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How long does it take to learn to surf? You can pick up the basics in a day but it’s a lifetime of learning!



How Long Does it Take to Learn to Surf?

If you’re heading to Australia with a keen interest to learn to surf and get out by yourself on the waves you might be asking, how long does it take to learn to surf? Well, there is no definitive answer as we all learn at a different pace, but you should be able to learn the basics and be stand up in a lesson of a few hours.

That will teach you the basic skills with which to work with. You will need a lot more practice and in truth it will takes months, even years of regular practice to be proficient, especially on the bigger waves and more aggressive boards. But in terms of, how long does it take to learn to surf to a basic level, you can learn in a day and then continue to practice and refine your technique yourself with the expectation that you still have a lot to learn and will fall of a lot! Learning the waves and conditions will take time too!

Even though Agnes Water is busy with backpackers, it’s still better than getting Noosa surf lessons as it’s all beginners here!



Are You Too Old? Learning to Surf at 30!

Well, of course not!! I was in fact 29 at the time we learnt to surf and Shorty was indeed learning to surf at 30! Age is just a number and as long as you are physically fit and able then there is no reason you can’t jump on a board for the first time at age 60 or even older! I’ve had a knee operation and I still managed just fine! In fact, the warm waters and numerous locations along the coast of Australia make it ideal for learning to surf at 30 with so many options to choose from and favourable weather! However you might be put off learning to surf at 30 or older by the mostly young backpacker crowd, but don’t let that stop you!

Learning to surf at 30: Thankfully Shorty looks young for his age!



Have You Thought About Learning How To Surf In Australia?




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Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions
12 days ago

This looks like a lot of fun! I’ve been to a number of towns and cities famous for surfing but have always been on the beach admiring the talent or trying to capture a few shots with my camera. Australia must be a great place to learn, and it’s good to know that it can be dangerous and investing in some beginner lessons can be a good idea from a safety standpoint!

Umiko
12 days ago

Cheap price always drew people a lot. It looks like everyone had a lot of fun learning how to surf. I think if I live near the ocean I would take the surf lesson.

12 days ago

How I dream of surfing! But I am not a swimmer and mustered up some courage for snorkeling. Long way to go. Your guide is really inspiring and useful guide for the experts.

MY RIG Adventures
13 days ago

Oh my goodness, reading all about your experiences of learning to surf has brought back a funny childhood memory for me. My Dad’s a surfer and I always wanted to learn when I was younger. So, one year, on our annual holiday to Noosa on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, I got out there with Dad and gave it a crack. Well, wasn’t I surprised at how hard it is to actually stand up! They always make it look so easy. I cracked it and headed back to the beach feeling defeated and realising that surfing just ain’t my thing. Never… Read more »

13 days ago

Nice article For Surfing Learners. Liked It…

14 days ago

Surfing has always been something we have loved watching, though we have never tried it. It looks so easy and graceful, but we know that it involveds lots of practice and skill. Would love to do a proper course some day to learn the ropes. Very usefil post. especially the section on how long it takes to learn was really interesting.

2 years ago

I am really searching for this kind of the material about surf lessons and you had provided it with the well defined format. Thank you so much.

2 years ago

Man oh man, I definitely feel you with being overconfident! That was absolutely my problem the first time surfing (and skiing, and snowboarding… notice a trend?!) Looks like an incredible place to learn, I hope you keep going at it!

2 years ago
Reply to  Erica

Ha ha, yeah I think it’s useful in the long run but the over confidence sets us up to have a huge wipe out and brings you back to earth with a bang… literally!! lol

Neha
2 years ago

Surfing is really nice sports and adventure but it can only play where we get high tides Place like india it is difficult to have this!

Thanks for sharing