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Step-by-Step Guide to Maximizing Summer Surf Time!

March 29, 2012

Summer is coming up really quick! The beaches are starting to heat up and it’s just about time to grab your boards and wetsuits and get to the waves!

Don’t know how to surf? Don’t worry I’m still learning too! But it’s certainly a lot of fun to learn and I bet even more fun once you actually get the hang of it. So whether you are someone hoping to learn, a beginner or an experienced surfer, here are some tips and information about how to get the best of the surf this summer!

Research surf conditions.

One of the most loved sites by dedicated surfers is and for good reason. The site is really thorough, almost so thorough that you don’t know what to do with all the information! You can see the surf conditions and the forecasts for just about any surf place in the world! Pretty amazing. Find the report for your local area so you can pick the best beach for your level of experience. 

Also- make sure to consider the surroundings. If you are new to surfing or are surfing with children, it’s probably a good idea to choose a beach with a lifeguard on duty. Not all beaches have lifeguards and it’s always better to be safe than sorry so err on the side of caution if you have doubts about your safety.

Another thing to be very careful of for novices and children learning to surf is crowded surfing spots. If there are a lot of surfers in the water, accidents happen and you could get hit by another surfer. If you’re just learning or have small children with you, pick a beach or a part of the beach that isn’t too crowded with surfers and is free of swimmers and join the “line up” – take turns with the other surfers catching the waves if it is too crowded. This is an unspoken but universally acknowledged rule among the surfing community, playing by this rule is polite and keeps everyone safe, not doing so could get you a scolding by some of the surfers.

Pack Up

You’ll need a few things for a day of surfing, some of which you may rent or may buy depending on your level of commitment.

  • Surf Board : This is one of those things that you don’t want to buy until you’re SURE you love surfing! They are quite expensive to buy and can also be expensive to rent on a regular basis, try to find a friend who you can borrow from- even better would be a friend who’s willing to teach you! You’ll want to start with a longer board, possibly a foam board, as you’re learning. If you’re a novice, ask the people at your local surf shop for suggestions, they’ll know what they’re talking about. More experienced surfers usually start gravitating towards resin and fiber glass boards that tend to be shorter and easier to maneuver on the water. Boards like that make it easier to navigate the waves but thicker, longer boards that novices use are easier to stand up on which is the initial struggle that needs to be conquered before you worry about doing any cool looking moves down the barrel of a wave!
  • Wetsuit : This is another thing that you should consider renting until you’re sure of your commitment to the sport as they usually cost a pretty penny. Something to consider about renting is that people frequently urinate inside their wetsuits while surfing, it’s an “acceptable” thing to do. If you’ve ever applied for the show Fear Factor, you probably don’t have any issue with renting a wetsuit. Ask the rental place if they clean the suits between renters, if they say “yes” they could be lying but you’ll still better at least mentally.
  • Rash Guard : put this on OVER your bathing suit UNDERNEATH the wetsuit, seems pointless but it will keep you from rubbing your armpits raw as you paddle – it really isn’t pointless and you’ll regret skipping it if you do. Depending on where you go to rent boards and

    SPZ UV Protective Women's Short Sleeve Rash Guard

    wetsuits, they may also have rentable rash guards (but they might be sort of like bowling alley socks…). If you’re looking to buy, SPZ makes great long sleeve and short sleeve rash guards that also have UV sun protection that you can find here. If you won’t be wearing a wetsuit, it’s especially important to wear a rash guard with UV protection to protect your skin.

  • Bathing Suit : now this I don’t suggest renting. Wear whatever you want, it won’t be showing most of the time unless you are surfing warm waters and won’t be wearing a wetsuit (and have scoffed my suggestion of protective clothing in favor of looking cute and showing off your bod in a bikini or mankini). If you are going to wear a wetsuit, try to wear a bathing suit with minimal decorative accents as you don’t want those rubbing too much against you and causing discomfort.
  • UV Protective Clothing & Sunscreen : UV protective clothing makes things really foolproof. No re-applying, no missed spots, no worrying about the correct level of SPF, none of that. SPZ has a full range of maximum UV protective clothing for men, women and kids which can be found here. If you prefer sunscreen or any areas are still exposed, I suggest Neutrogena’s Cooling Mist Sunscreen (available here ) which is easy to put on because it’s a spray, you don’t have to rub in, and feels refreshing and cool when you apply it – it’s my personal favorite sunscreen and while I’m not an expert, I do have plenty of experience, since I’m really pale!! NOTE: No matter what product or method you use, do not skip sun protection. Skin cancer is a very serious issue and the sun’s effects are intensified as they reflect off of the water so please, make sure to think about your skin every day and especially when you’re doing outdoor activities.
  • Towel & Dry Clothes : don’t forget this… BRRRRRRRR

Put On Some Good Tunes and Hit the Road! 

You have to go with the Beach Boys for a Surfin’ Safari! It’s just not right if you don’t… If you’re going to Catch A Wave, you should listen to them on your way there to get you excited!

Learn / Do / Repeat!!

If you don’t know how to surf, take some lessons if it’s in your budget. If not find a friend who knows and convince them to teach you – go back to ye olden days of bartering and tell them you’ll show them how to bake your famous mac n’ cheese or fix their motorcycle engine in exchange. And if your friends don’t know how (or you have no friends) just go with good old fashioned trial and error! It’s not easy and standing up will be preceded by many falls (none of which will be graceful) but once you get it, apparently it’s like riding a bike!

If you have nobody to teach you, try going to and finding a local surf club that accepts beginners. You can meet new surfing friends, find someone to teach you, maybe find someone to loan you a board / wetsuit and have a great time! This would be a great way to find someone to borrow from and save money on renting boards even if you already have someone to teach you. Also a great resource for experienced surfers looking for more friends with that common interest!

Give Back

After you’ve mastered the sport of surfing, (no doubt due to my excellent tips) check out how you can give back to your community with your new talents.

UrbanSurf4Kids is a charity that provides orphans and foster kids with water activities and teaches them how to give back to their community. It’s a pass it on kind of idea. You can feel good about yourself and help others all at the same time.

There are also lots of great environmental charities that you can get involved with to help save the oceans that you now love to surf! Sign up with a group like the Surfrider Foundation to do a beach clean up for the day or sign a petition!

Give to Yourself

Treat yourself! Not only is surfing lots of fun but it is amazing exercise. You deserve a little chocolate covered calorie cluster every now and then! Yum!!

Buy yourself that board you’ve been eyeing, a new bathing suit, a new pair of shades… reward your hard work!

Or best of all – treat yourself to some time off and catch a wave somewhere exotic. Surfing provides a great mental escape from your daily stresses, combine that with a physical escape from your stressful surroundings and ahhhh ultimate bliss!! Check out surfline’s travel guide to help get you inspired. And don’t forget to top your trip off with a nice sports massage if it’s in your budget- if it’s not, no worries, find a surfer chick, surfer dude, surfer wife, surfer hubby, surfer buddy, or just rub your back against a palm tree, do what you have to! Just bliss out!

Treat yourself to an escape. Nothing is better than a day that’s not the everyday!

Happy Surfing!!

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