For first-time surfers, your first surf sesh is bound to be daunting. Diving head first (literally) into any new experience is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating, but we’re here to help you have the best first surf experience ever! Here are 8 things to take note of before and after surfing for those new to the sport.
If you’re practically blind without your glasses, it’s imperative that you bring contacts with you. To be more specific, you need to bring dailies with you. With the ocean being rather unpredictable and with wiping out being a given with surfing, the chances of your contacts being knocked out of your eyes is high. We learnt this lesson the hard way.
2. Protect your skin from abrasions!
Us humans are rather fragile beings, and there are a million and one ways we can get injured in one way or another. In order to specifically protect your skin while surfing, you’ll need two things – a rash guard and sunscreen (point 3).
If you engage a surf school for your first lesson, chances are they’ll provide you with a rash guard for the lesson. Rash guards are super important for beginners as they protect your skin from rough surface of the soft top surfboard – these are generally used to teach beginners, as they are easier to balance on and provide more buoyancy.
Soft top surfboards tend to give you abrasions especially if you’re new to surfing, so a rash guard is advised to prevent that from happening as much as possible.
3. Protect your skin from sunburns!
We all love a good tan, but don't skip that sunscreen just yet! Surfing generally requires being out under the sun for hours, and you’ll want to slather yourself in sunscreen in order to protect yourself from UV rays and potential sunburn.
While there are lots of sunscreen options out there, we recommend reef-safe sunscreen, as you may be unknowingly poisoning the ocean with two harmful ingredients commonly found in normal sunscreen: oxybenzone and octinoxate.
These ingredients cause the bleaching of coral, which in turn leads to further damage in the ocean’s ecosystem. For SPF, it’s recommended that you get a rigorously tested SPF 30 and reapply every 80 to 90 minutes for optimum sun protection.
When holding our first surf camp, we had a couple girls that weren’t prepared for the open waters. Tell yourself to keep breathing and that you’ll be okay – even the best surfers get afraid sometimes, so it’s natural!
You are not alone in the water. Call for your friend, surf guide, or the nearest surfer to you if you ever feel like you are trapped in the ocean and need to get to shore. Surfers will be happy to paddle back to shore with you and make sure you are safe.
For Haikini surf camps, we’re focused on providing a safe and supportive environment for girls, in and out of the water! Read more about it here.
5. Don’t stuff yourself before your surf session
While it’s important to fuel up before a 2-hour surf session, it’s also important not to overeat – the jitters of your first surf session might make you feel sick!
We recommend either eating a full breakfast an hour or two before or grabbing a slice of toast and a cup of coffee right before.
6. Hire a surf instructor
Most popular surf spots have surf schools, and from there you can engage certified surf instructors!
It’s recommended to engage a local surf instructor from the beach you’re surfing at, as some surf spots can get quite territorial and regular local surfers may not fully welcome outside instructors to encroach on their turf.
Site-specific instructors are also best as they know that part of the ocean best, allowing them to ensure the safest and most pleasurable experience for you.
7. Take note of the tide
This is very dependent on the beach you’re at. Some places are just better to surf under certain conditions compared to others – you should be able to ask your surf instructor about this, and they will be able to recommend you the best time to surf.
For rocky or reefy surf breaks, you should generally avoid surfing at low tide to lower your chances of getting hurt.
As a surfer, you’ll need to develop a good understanding of the differences in every break. Stay tuned as we will explore this in another article!
Strong, surfing apples.
Like any sport, surfing will definitely leave you a little bruised and sore the next day. This is to be expected! For first time surfers, you’re bound to get abrasions from your board as your skin acclimatizes.
Surfing also takes a lot of upper body strength – the hardest part of surfing isn’t actually the standing up, it’s the paddling. Expect to wake up with sore shoulders and arms the next day, but don't worry – it’s all part of the fun!
Those are your battle scars, and you should be proud of em' ;)