Girls having a surf lesson at Green Bowl Surfcamp

As awesome as surfing is, it’s also hard work. But don’t worry! We’ve compiled helpful surf tips for you to make the “learn to surf” process a little easier.

These are some of the learn to surf fundamentals that everyone should know:

Knowledge of the Ocean

Looking at the ocean can be deceiving. Knowing what to look for may save you from danger, injuries and death. Watch the ocean for a few minutes before you paddle out is always an advisable approach to ensure a safe and fun surf. Never underestimate Mother Nature!

Currents – Rips – Undertows

Are caused by water expelling out to sea, direction of wind and swell. Rips are seen with darker colouration from sand being turned up and chop on top of the water from smaller waves breaking. Do not paddle straight against a rip, take an angled approach, or put your hand up for help!

Swell Wave Size

Swell is formed by low-pressure storms out to sea. The lower the pressure, the bigger the waves. Always stay within your limits! The bigger the waves, the more experience you need to have.

Tide Times

Most tides work on a 6-hour change, some work on 12-hour change. High tide has more water making the waves spill down the face. Low tide has less water, making the waves shallower, plunge and barrel.

Wind Direction

You determine the direction from were the wind is coming from. If the wind is blowing from the south, they call it a Southerly Wind. If the wind is blowing from the west, they call it a Westerly Wind. Sometimes it blows from the northeast, they call it a Northeasterly.

Dangers to you and others

All sports can be dangerous, always take care, and be aware of conditions and situations at hand. Do not go out in surf above your ability, (Know your limits!), avoid rips and always surf with someone. You should watch where the waves are breaking and choose markers on the beach to assist you with positioning.

Surf Tips - Green Bowl
Surf Tips – Green Bowl: Home to one of Bali’s strongest rip currents.

Most important surf tips:

Surf Etiquette

Surfer on the inside has right of way. Be patient and respect the ocean, land, Mother Nature, and the locals. Surfing is enjoyable, so be respectful and have fun! Eemember – “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”

Surf Breaks – Reef, Sand and Point

Waves have different formations when it comes to certain breaks. Reef breaking waves are shallow and dangerous; they create a plunging wave that breaks from top to bottom called a barrel. This should be left to experienced surfers. Sand breaking waves are easier for the beginner surfer. They make various shaped waves and are normally not so crowded. Point breaking waves wrap around a headland, creating long winding waves, that can be easier to paddle out to.

Choosing a surf break

Try and find a spot with no crowds – battling with hundreds of other beginners and more experienced surfers is not the way to go. If you have a little space to yourself and a mellow wave it will be easier to learn.

Surf Spot with no Crowd
Find a spot with no crowds

The most important Surf Techniques

Master the paddle out

Paddling is an essential surfing skill so lots of practice at this will bring its rewards. Start in small waves and if possible paddle out when there is a lull in the waves. Its best to walk your board out until you are in waist deep water, then lay your body on the deck of your surfboard. On a shortboard keep your weight centered on the middle of the board and on a longboard position yourself so the nose is around 1inch out of the water. The trick is to find the optimum trim position for the board which will provide least resistance when paddling. Once you feel the board gliding through the water with ease you’ll have found the ideal trim, so remember your position and stick with it.

Catch a few whitewater waves first

Rather than paddling straight out the back into the line up, its best to catch a few broken whitewater waves in shallower water. You should have your ideal trim/paddling position at this stage, so point your board directly towards the beach and as the whitewater approaches paddle towards shore. The wave should pick you up and push you forward which is an unmistakable feeling, however if your board pearls or nosedives you have set off positioned too far forward on the board, likewise if the wave passes under you are positioned too far back on the board.

Surfer paddling out some waves
Master the paddle out as it is an essential surfing skill

How to Wave Riding

1. Surf green waves

Once you’ve mastered paddling and popping up. It’s time to climb to the next level of wave riding. The real aim of any surfer is to angle along on the open face of an unbroken wave parallel with the beach, getting the longest possible ride with the greatest amount of speed. Your pop up will need to be much faster than in whitewater and so will have to be your paddling. Also, you should decide which direction (right or left) you will ride as you begin paddling for an oncoming wave.

2. Practice the “pop up”

Standing up on a surfboard can look very easy but once you place that surfboard on a moving, pitching, surge of swirling water where you must simultaneously leap from a prone position while weighting and unweighting left, right, front, and back just to keep from diving face forward, you’ll soon realize a lot of practice will be needed!The motion from prone to standing name: pop-up, which is basically a quick push up to your feet. Firstly you will need to know which foot will feel most natural to you in the forward position. The left foot forward is called “natural stance” and the right foot forward is a “goofy foot” stance. Lie the board on the sand (watch the fins) and do a push-up, once your arms are at full extension, pull both knees toward your stomach and hop to your feet. If you practice this regularly it will help you when in the water.

How to Pop Up

  1. Paddle for a wave and just as you feel the momentum of the surfboard flow faster than your paddling speed, you are ready to hop up.
  2. With your hands firmly grasping each rail push up quickly.
  3. Simultaneously, extend your arms completely and pull your knees quickly up to your chest. Be sure to keep your weight centered with just a little slant forward.
  4. Place your feet firmly on your board. One foot near the tail and one foot just above the midpoint of the board.
  5. Don’t stand up completely erect. Keep a low center of gravity by crouching down and focusing your weight on the midpoint of the board. Keep your arms out, your eyes looking forward and balance.