Learning the basics from more experienced people is essential to save time and energy when learning new specific skills. Surfing lessons, however, can be slightly more complicated because so many different variables come into play when surfing, such as wave size, weather and tide.
A beginner surfing lesson is well worth the money for the first-time surfer as it teaches essential surfing skills and provides safety education such as surfing etiquette, rips and current. After acquiring basic skills and knowledge, however, most surfers can continue surfing without further lessons.
Before deciding whether it’s worth your money, you need to know the price.
How much do surfing lessons cost?
Here are averages of the cost of surfing lessons in 2022 worldwide. Price variables depend on the season, the number of participants and different surfing schools.
|Location||Private Lesson||Group Lessons ( Between 5-10 people)|
|Sydney, AUS||$AUD 120-170 / Lesson. 5 Lessons = $90-120 each.||$AUD 75-99 / Lesson. 5 lessons = $40-80 each|
|Sunshine Coast, AUS||$AUD 80-120 / Lesson. 5 Lessons = 350-500||$AUD 50-60 / Lesson. 5 lessons = 225|
|Hungtinton Beach, USA||$USD 155-160 / Lesson||$USD 100 / Lesson ( for 5 people)|
|Waikiki, USA||$USD 110-205 / Lesson||$USD 70-120 / Lesson ( For 2-5 people)|
|Bali, Indonesia*||$USD 60+ . Most surf schools provide 1+ days package often including transport.||$USD 20-60 / Lesson ( For 2-5 people)|
|Yang Yang, South Korea||$ USD 85-100.||$USD 45-50 / Lesson|
*With increasing popularity, there are a lot of surfing camps/packages in Bali providing accommodation, meals, transport and event video recordings.
Things you need to ask before booking surfing lessons.
- How many people per class?
- How many instructors will be in the class – the ratio of surfers and instructors?
- Refund policy: not all surfing conditions would be ideal or safe for beginner surfers and you may need to reschedule/refund.
- Board and wetsuit are included in the price?
Private vs Group surfing lessons?
Most surf schools provide options for Private lessons and Group lessons. Here are a few points to consider when deciding the lesson.
Group lessons provide all the things you need as a beginner surfer. Group lesson is a popular option for most beginners. In the early stage of learning, having a group or private lesson would not make much difference in progress. This is because most beginner surfers will not have stamina or skill requiring individual attention.
Group lesson is also usually close to half the price of a private lesson, and you get to surf with a bunch of your friends and meet new people.
You won’t get full attention. Some apparent errors should be corrected to accelerate the learning curve. For example, body positing on the board is essential to paddling efficiently, but when there are 10 other people in the group, the instructors will be busy keeping everyone safe.
Collision. Beginner surfs lack awareness of their surroundings because too many things are happening during surfing. Paddling to catch waves requires correct timing and often total effort. This creates tunnel vision, and you may not see the surfer directly in front of you. Even with the softboard, getting hit by 9-foot board is not a pleasant experience.
Lack of flexibility for individual surfing level. This goes with a lack of attention. The instructor needs to focus and tailor the programme towards the majority of the group. If you are the best within the group, the instructor will likely leave you alone to do your own thing.
Full attention. Surfing requires attention to detail to improve. Paddling technique correction, body positing on the board, and timing of catching waves are areas where someone can correct you with direct feedback.
Tailored programme. A good instructor can focus on each surfing component and maximise the learning process.
Learn in a quiet environment. If you are an introvert, being in a group, especially with strangers, is not the best place for you. Also, there is less chance of injury from being hit by another beginner surfer.
Cost. It’s more expensive than group lessons, and you can learn most of the essentials from group lessons in the early learning stage anyway.
Variable Nature of Surfing. Surfing condition changes every day and hour. The changing tide and wind will make surfing conditions dramatically different. The best and the worst surfing condition can flip within 10 minutes, and you do not want to be having a lesson with ankle height conditions with 100 people in the line-up.
For this reason, some surfing schools will provide refund and rescheduling options.
Knowing the variability in surfing conditions, the best thing to do is to surf as often as possible. Therefore, unless you have specific goals from a private lesson, such as improving paddling or duck diving, most people will improve at their own pace without further lessons.
The last consideration before deciding surfing lesson is your stamina. Do you have enough stamina to surf for 2 hours? If you are tired after three waves, there is not much the instructor can do for an exhausted student.
How hard are surfing lessons?
If never done before, surfing lessons can be physically challenging for beginners. Here are a few reasons why.
- Carrying heavy softboard: beginner soft surfboards are around 8-9 foot boards and weigh around 5-7kg. You do not need to carry it all the time, but it adds up during 2-hour sessions.
- Wading through water and waves can be tiring. Walking on waist-deep water alone can be decent exercise. Every time you catch a wave and ride it to the shore, you may need to wade back to shoulder-level depth and then paddle again.
- Pulling your body onto a surfboard can be hard work. Every time you fall off the board, you must pull yourself up, which can be tiring, especially if you are slightly overweight.
- Paddling requires high-level endurance in the back, neck and arm muscles. Like any sport, you will not last long if you have not trained specific muscles. Paddling on and off for 1-2 hours can be challenging, especially when you paddle extra hard at times to catch waves when the opportunity comes.
- Pushing up to stand after catching waves can be tiring after a couple of waves. Imagine doing 5-10 push up after swimming for 20-30 minutes. If you have not done either of these exercises, it will be challenging during the surfing lesson.
Is one hour enough for surfing lessons? (1.5 hours, including dry-land practice)
One hour surfing lesson is adequate for most beginner surfers. Surfing lessons are usually 1.5 hours, including essential education sessions, dry-land/sand practice time for basic skills, and surfing.
Actual surfing time, therefore, will be roughly 1 hour, and you will need to exercise constantly. As mentioned above, surfing is physically demanding, and you must keep working even when sitting on your board to balance.
If you were to book multiple lessons, I recommend having a day break between the lessons for recovery.
But guess what? It will all be worth it when you catch your first green waves. All the hard work will be good memories of the past.