Learning to Surf in Australia: Tips for Beginners

Learning to surf is a must do in Australia. Here’s our guide to the top tips for beginners when surfing the waves in Australia for the first time. So grab your surfboard, what are you waiting for?

surfing a wave

For those who aren’t used to spending time in the ocean, let alone getting on a board, learning to surf can be deceptively hard. We’ve put together some of our top tips to help you keep your head above water and start riding Australia’s best waves like a pro in no time.

The bigger, the better…

… And no, we’re not talking about waves just yet! The bigger your board when you start learning to surf, the easier it will be. Whether you’re hiring a board, buying your own or taking a lesson, it’s best to start your surfing journey on a foamie (foamboard) or a longboard. The higher the volume of your surfboard, the more floatation it has and the easier it is to balance and prevent unwanted nose dives. Once you start improving your skills and confidence, you can upgrade to a smaller fibreglass board.

Never ditch your board

When learning to surf in Australia, you should always have your boards leash around the ankle of your back foot (closest to the tail of your board), so there’s little reason to ever become detached. Should you happen to be in a situation that requires you to ditch your board, however, ensure there is no one behind you to prevent any accidents or injuries – to either you or a fellow surfer.

Learn on smaller, quieter beaches

Picking the best beaches and waves are some of the most important factors if you’re going to succeed at learning to surf. For your safety, make sure you learn on beaches that have smaller, more manageable waves that are patrolled by lifeguards. Learning in a stretch of ocean that isn’t too busy also means you’ll get to practice on more waves and you’ll have less chance of hitting surfers that you’re sharing the water with.

girl with surfboard in the sea

Get educated – learn about currents and rips

Before you even put your wetsuit on and get into the water, it’s vital to learn about rips, currents, winds and tides. Australian wave conditions vary greatly and can be dangerous if you’re unsure of how to navigate them. Again, it’s best to research a good spot for beginners and ask for tips regarding the day’s conditions when you get there. The Australian surf community is very welcoming and should be happy to point out the best places to enter and exit the water as well as inform you about the day’s conditions. Alternatively you can check out sites like Swellnet before heading out.

Learn to fall

When learning to surf in Australia like a pro, it’s inevitable that you’re going to fall off your board… a lot. And the best way to do so is to fall flat, like a starfish so that you don’t buckle your ankles or knees on the ocean floor down below.

surfers in clear water

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Chances are, you’ll be sharing the waves with surfers who are way more competent (and confident) than you on the board. Never be afraid to ask for help or score some tips from surfers around you – you might just learn a thing or two! And even make some friends to continue your surfing journey with.

Better yet, why not take the plunge and sign up for a surfing camp or lessons? As well as having the best time making friends and enjoying a slice of classic Australian culture, you’ll also get professional guidance in a safe environment.

Surf etiquette is important

Getting your head around surf etiquette is almost as important as learning the technique itself. There are so many rules to follow when catching waves alongside other surfers including learning who has the right of way, where to paddle out and making sure everyone gets equal waves. Before getting in the water, check out this guide that’ll help you scrub up on your surfing manners and prevent any disgruntled locals in the water.

Don’t give up

Most importantly, when you keep falling off and you’re getting increasingly frustrated, don’t give up! Surfing is one of the hardest sports to tackle, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you or you’re not used to being in the water. Just remember there will be others around you that started where you are too and have persevered to be where they are now. Enjoy the journey!

Want to try surfing all around Australia? Check out our local surf beach guides in Adelaide, Sydney and Perth!