Are Surf Lessons Worth It? (Full Guide By Surf Instructor)

Surf lessons can be pretty expensive, and not everyone is willing to pay that amount. I saw many people renting a surfboard and trying to surf themselves, and saw many children and adults booking lessons. But are surf lessons worth it?

Although not every surf lesson is of the same quality, they’re generally worth it. Surf lessons ensure that you learn an extreme sport in a safe environment and with the correct technique. This will save you from lots of struggling and make the sport more enjoyable.

It makes a lot of sense to find out the value of a product or service before paying for it. This article is dedicated to explaining the value and the pros and cons of surf lessons, so keep on reading if you’re interested in booking one.

Are Surf Lessons Worth The Cost?

A surf lesson can save you from buying all the gear and wear, just to find out that it’s not your type of sport. It will also make sure that you learn the techniques safely and correctly. So even though it’s not necessary to take a lesson, surf lessons are definitely worth the cost.

Surfing falls under ‘extreme sports’ and has a steep learning curve. There have been many surfers who managed to learn how to surf all by themselves or with the help of some friends.

However, it takes a lot of time to unlearn something. Having the wrong technique can mean that you get stuck at your current level of surfing.

For the price of a surf lesson, you make sure that your technique is correct, that you can safely enjoy this sport with an understanding of the ocean and its currents, and that you have fun.

The type of lesson depends on the experience of the client. However, they’re all worth the cost.

You pay for safety, fun, information, and experience.

The instructor has the right amount of knowledge to explain things to you that otherwise might have taken you weeks, months, or years to figure out.

Surf lessons in a group also help you get in touch with other surfers with the same skill level.

This way you can make friends with whom you can go surfing. It also tends to create a bit of positive rivalry.

You don’t want to be the only one who can’t stand up, land the trick or learn the maneuver.

This pushes people to try even harder and eventually succeed.

So, should I take surf lessons?

You definitely could take surf lessons, and you should take surf lessons if you want to learn the basics the correct way, safe, and as quickly as possible. You should also take surf lessons if you’re stuck and need some professional guidance.

Who Are Surfing Lessons For?

Surf lessons are for anyone and everyone who would like to improve their skill. Most surf lessons focus on beginners due to the difficulty of the basic skills and the number of tourists who want to try. However, there are also intermediate and advanced surf lessons.

Even though most surf schools focus on beginner lessons, there are lessons to be found for basically everyone. Some examples are:

Tourists:

Many tourists find their way to the beaches during the holiday.

Taking a surf lesson is a great way to spend some time. These surf lessons will result in a nice picture, a great experience, and a bit of a workout.

However, many of these tourists will be from landlocked areas, and only a few will continue surfing.

Kids:

Many beach towns have surf clubs or surf schools offering weekly lessons. So instead of playing soccer or tennis, kids have the option to go once a week to surf class.

Since these lessons are weekly, the instructor knows what his students are capable of and will plan the lesson accordingly.

Surf instructor teaching a kid how to surf

Adults:

The above also applies to adults. Although the numbers are lower, many adults are still trying new sports and joining sports clubs.

This also includes surf clubs and surf schools.

Beginners:

As said before, there is an abundance of beginner surfing lessons to choose from.

However, taking a lesson when trying to learn surfing is highly recommended due to the difficulty of the basics and the dangerous nature of the ocean.

Intermediates:

While there are few intermediate group lessons, many surf schools offer private lessons.

Having a surf instructor helps you perfect your maneuvers like a bottom turn or how gaining speed can help you reach the next level.

Learning new things with more ease is also an excellent way to stay motivated. So if you’re feeling stuck, there is no shame in taking a lesson.

Advanced:

The same goes for advanced surfers. There are not many group lessons. However, you could choose to take a private lesson to speed up the learning process.

Furthermore, there are quite a few surf camps worldwide that focus on more advanced surfers. They often last a few days to a week and include accommodation.

These camps often include video coaching and personalized training advice.

Professionals:

Although I don’t expect many pro surfers to be reading this article, I think it’s good for everyone to know. Pro surfers have coaches. 

Since it can be hard to judge your own wave when you’re fuelled with adrenaline, a surf coach will be videotaping your rides and giving you feedback on them.

No matter your skill level, there is always room for improvement!

What Are The Pros And Cons of Surf Lessons?

Surf lessons can be expensive and won’t automatically turn you into a great surfer. They do tend to shorten the learning time and teach you how to act in the water so that you’re not a danger to yourself or anyone else. 

If there were only pros to surf lessons, I wouldn’t have to write this article. The same goes for the cons.

I’ve listed the main pros and cons here to give you a better idea of the value of surf lessons.

Pros:

No own equipment needed:

You don’t need to have your own wear and gear. The surf school will provide you with a surfboard and, if needed, a wetsuit.

Low risk to experience the sport:

You don’t have to buy a board to find out that it is not your type of sport. Although surf lessons can be expensive, buying a surfboard and wetsuit costs more.

It would be a shame if you purchased everything to find out that you don’t like it.

Learning the proper techniques:

You’ll learn the proper techniques. There are many ways to do something.

However, not all these ways will lay a good foundation for the following techniques.

Learning techniques with a surf lesson will ensure that you learn the proper techniques.

Learning safely:

Surfing is an extreme sport and can be dangerous, as well, as the ocean.

Instructors need to know how to save people from dangerous situations, have a first-aid certificate, and avoid dangerous situations.

You’ll be as safe as possible when you take surf lessons.

Recognize potential hazards:

You’ll learn about the different dangers. A surf instructor will teach you about the various hazards you might encounter when going for a surf.

Understanding these hazards will mean that you’ll be more able to stay safe when going for a surf.

Motivation and surfing buddies:

There will be others with the same level of surfing. Seeing others learn the same things you do can motivate you to keep trying.

It also gives you the chance to meet potential surf buddies.

Experienced instructors:

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The surf instructor will have years of experience.

This means they can explain things to you, which would have otherwise taken you lots of time to figure out.

Making faster progress:

It will cost you less time to learn new techniques.

Due to the experience from the instructor, the explanations, and a good training schedule, you are likely to progress faster.

Cons:

Can be expensive:

Surf lessons are not cheap. It can be quite expensive. Not everyone is willing or able to spend such amounts on a lesson.

Time limit:

Most surf lessons vary between one and two hours. This might not be enough time to learn what you want to learn.

Location bound:

Not every beach has a surf school. There are lots of great surf beaches without surf schools.

When you’re taking a lesson, you’re bound to certain beaches. These might be crowded or less appealing.

​​What do I Need to Know Before my First Surf Lesson?

The short answer:

Before your first surf lesson, you need to know that no waves, means no surfing, you’ll be out in the sun, so sunscreen is recommended, you can swim, and you need to bring a towel because you will get wet.

The extended answer:

The most important thing you should know before going to your first surf lesson is how to swim. You can’t learn how to surf if you can’t swim. 

So you should never paddle out further than you can swim back (just in case something happens to your board), and you should most definitely not go surfing if you can’t swim.

Besides, there need to be waves. Often people book their surf lesson a few days in advance.

However, the surf school will need to postpone or cancel the lesson if there are no waves.

The same goes for bad weather or extreme ocean conditions.

How do I prepare for my first surfing lesson?

Surf lessons are pretty straightforward. You don’t really need to prepare for them, and the surf school will provide you with a surfboard and wetsuit if necessary.

What should I bring to my first surf lesson?

  • Swimsuit/board shorts, surf schools only provide wetsuits (when necessary).
  • Food and drinks, surfing is exhausting and ocean water makes you thirsty.
  • Sunscreen, the sun is twice as strong on the water due to its reflection.
  • Towel, you’ll definitely get wet.

What to Expect During Your First Surf Lesson

During your first lesson, you should expect to think about the surf etiquettes, how to be safe in the water, how to perform a push-up, how to read the ocean, how the different parts of your board are called, and what they’re for.

Before the lesson starts, the instructor will give you a wetsuit to wear (when surfing in cold water) or instruct you to get changed into your swimwear.

Once you wear the appropriate surf wear and apply sunscreen, the instructor will select a board for you.

Now you are all ready, and the surf lesson will start.

The warm-up:

Most surf lessons start with a warming-up. The warming-up reduces the chance of injuries and is often a play-full exercise to get started with the basic moves.

Explaining the surfboard:

After the warming-up, the instructor will explain the different parts of the board, their names, and what they’re for.

The dry training:

Next, they will ask you or determine if you’re most likely a ‘goofy-footer’ or a ‘regular footer.’

The dry training will start once you know if you surf with your right or left foot in front.

The dry training is an essential part of the lesson, where you’ll get through the correct way of performing a so-called ‘push-up’ onto your board.

Instructor teaching people how to surf

This push-up is how a surfer transfers from a lying position to a standing position.

Since the board gets less stable in the water, practicing on land is an excellent way to start of easy and get the feeling for it.

Explanation of safety rules:

When everyone has done the push-up a few times, the instructor will go about the safety measurements.

These include: how to fall off your board (protecting your head), how to paddle out or walk through the waves (next to each other rather than behind each other), where to paddle out (think about riptides, rocks, or other possible hazards), and last, the instructor will explain a few hand signals.

Instructors often use a few hand signals so that they’re not forced to shout over the noise of the ocean and the beach.

There will be hand signals telling you to go more to the left, more to the right, closer to the beach, come back to the beach, and warn you of a shark.

Getting into the water:

Now that the above is all done, it’s time to surf some waves. The instructor will go with the students into the water and help them get some waves.

They’ll tell you where to position yourself, when to paddle and when to do your push-up. The instructor can help you catch waves by pushing you into them.

They’ll cheer you on and ensure that everyone has fun and stays safe.

End of the lesson:

At the end of your lesson, you’ll be able to shower, change and talk about the experience with the other students in your group.

One of the main goals for an instructor teaching first-timers is to enthuse them about surfing.

Of course, you won’t be a pro after one lesson, but you might keep on surfing if you had fun.

Summary of what to expect & what not to expect:

Do expect:

  • Gear and wear to be provided.
  • Explanation about the board.
  • Explanation about the ocean (currents, waves, hazards, etc).
  • Explanation about the techniques (first lesson techniques are paddling and push-up).
  • Explanation about safety (how to fall, watching out for other surfers, etc).
  • Explanation about the surf etiquettes (how to behave in the ocean).
  • Catching some waves (often white water).
  • To get tired.
  • Having fun.
  • Learning to surf in a safe environment.

Don’t expect:

  • Surfing big waves.
  • Instantly know how to correctly execute the techniques.
  • Riding like the surfers that make it look cool.
  • To not get tired.
  • Not fall off your board.
  • Be able to read the waves after one lesson.

How Many Surf Lessons do I Need?

The short answer:

The amount of surf lessons you need depends on your goal and the time to reach this. Most people generally understand the basics after 2 or 3 lessons. This includes paddling, performing a push-up, and surfing the whitewater.

The extended answer:

Like I said before, you don’t need to take surf lessons. Many surfers have reached an excellent level of surfing without any official lessons.

This, however, doesn’t mean that a lesson is worthless.

On the contrary, learning how to surf without taking lessons can result in wrong techniques, dangerous situations, and demotivation due to the slow learning process.

Suppose you want to ensure that your basic techniques are correct to have a good foundation to progress on. In that case, I’d recommend about 2 to 3 lessons.

After these lessons, you should know and understand the correct paddle technique, push-up technique, and the right way to stand on your board.

It might take you a lot longer before you can execute these techniques flawlessly, but at least you’ll know how it’s supposed to be done.

The time it takes to become a good surfer can be shortened with surf lessons, but it still differs per person.

Some people who have tried to teach themselves how to surf end up with the wrong techniques. This can, for example, be a push-up where they sit on their knees before standing on their feet.

They can surf the whitewater using that technique, but once they try to surf unbroken waves, this technique will result in many wipeouts.

Therefore, when they approach a surf school to help them reach the next level, the instructor will first have to unteach them their technique.

This will cost a lot of time and result in the student needing more lessons.

How to Find a Good Surf School or Instructor?

The short answer:

Every official surf school will have certified instructors. Reading reviews online, speaking with previous guests, or viewing one of their lessons, are great ways to find out if it’s a good school for you. Let them know what you expect. This way, they can pair you with a suitable instructor.

The extended answer:

Nowadays, most companies can be found online. This also goes for surf schools.

Online reviews and ratings are easy to determine what previous students think of the surf school.

Although official surf schools will always work with certified instructors, not all of these instructors or schools might suit your needs or expectations.

People are unique and often require different methods of teaching.

For example, some instructors might excel with one type of student. At the same time, the other is best suited to a different kind of student.

The same goes for surf schools. For example, you might prefer to have a lesson that goes for 2 hours, but not all schools offer such long lessons.

Therefore it’s recommended to inquire about the options, read about previous experiences, and talk to the surf school about your expectations.

How Much do Surf Lessons Cost?

The price of a surf lesson can vary a lot depending on the location, duration, type of lesson, season, and surf school. However, an average group lesson of 1.5 hours costs between $50 and $100 (€44 to €88).

The cost of a surf lesson depends on a few things.

Type of lesson:

Group lessons are cheaper than private lessons.

Duration of the surf lesson:

The longer a surf lesson, the more expensive the lesson will be.

The season:

The demand for surf lessons is higher during peak season. This means that the prices will go up during this time. Peak season differences per country or area.

Location and/or country:

The price for a surf lesson varies per country. This has to do with the economics of that country and the popularity of surfing in that country.

Even within a country, some areas are more expensive than others. This has to do with the demand for surf lessons.

Popular beaches tend to be more expensive compared to other beaches.

Amount of lessons:

Lots of surf schools offer packages that include multiple lessons. Some surf clubs and schools even have weekly lessons for locals.

Buying multiple lessons is often cheaper than purchasing one lesson.

Should I take group or private lessons?

The difference in price between a group lesson and a private lesson has to do with the amount of personal attention you receive.

You learn more quickly during a private lesson, but it will cost you a lot more.

So, how much are private surf lessons?

On average, a private surf lesson costs $160 (€140) for one person and $280 (€246) for two people. If you take a package with multiple lessons, the price can drop quite a bit.

I personally find that a group lesson has more value when it’s your first surf lesson.

You’ll get motivated by seeing other people who also try surfing for the first time, and if it’s not your type of sport, at least you didn’t spend too much money on it.

However, suppose you struggle with specific techniques (basic, intermediate, or advanced).

In that case, a private lesson will be the quickest and easiest way to improve them.

A group lesson’s average price per hour is around $80 or €70.

When you book a longer-lasting lesson, your hourly price will go down, but the total amount which you pay will be higher.

From my experience, one hour is plenty of time for a first lesson.

Surfing is exhausting, and going straight for a two-hour session doesn’t have to be more productive.

You can save a lot of money by booking your (beach)holiday during the off-season. Surf seasons vary per country or area and don’t always have to be during holiday times.

Surfing in the off-season might result in fewer waves or a lower quality of waves.

However, there will be much less competition in the water, and the prices for a lesson will be lower.

If you’re still a beginner, this might have more value.

The more expensive countries like the US, New Zealand, Australia, and some European countries also tend to charge more per lesson.

In some parts of the world, prices are lower.

Therefore, many people take their first surf lesson on holiday in Asia, Central- or South America, or Africa. The price of a one-hour surf lesson in these areas is between $20 and $50 (€17 to €44).

If you want to learn how to surf in your own country, it’ll be worth checking the difference in price per area.

The more popular beach destinations will most likely be more expensive.

Have you had your first lesson, and are you motivated to improve your surfing?

Ask the surf school about packages. This can be on holiday, or if you live near to the beach. Packages will be cheaper and help you to improve more quickly.

The more you surf, the better you get!

Conclusion

I hope that this article gave you some insight into the value of a surf lesson.

I believe that the value of a surf lesson varies a lot per lesson and per area, but taking a surf lesson when starting to surf is beneficial and probably worth it.

However, you don’t need surf lessons to become a great surfer, so it’s entirely up to you to decide if a surf lesson is worth it for you.

Marcus Campbell

Surfing is the biggest passion in my life. Transferring my knowledge about surfing to others is what I love doing most! I do this through my own surf school and through my articles on this website. This is how I hope to get everyone excited about this amazing sport!
Published: 
January 10, 2022

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Published: January 10, 2022