Learn to Surf with Island Water Sports

Oct 16th 2019

Learn to Surf with Island Water Sports

For the last 40 years, Island Water Sports has shared their stoke through our free lesson program, private lessons, and camps. Grab a friend and learn something new this year! Join any of the following programs:

Learning to Surf

Surfing in one of the most challenging sports in the world because not one wave is the same. Your play field is constantly changing. Elements such as wind, tides and swells are affect the waves you surf differently every single day. So, as a surfer, you must not only understand the basics of surfing but also be in tune with how the wind and the waves work in the area that you are surfing.

Once you catch your first wave, most people are hooked! No matter how far you progress in surfing, you will always fall sometimes. The key to being a great surfer is to get back up and try again and remembering to have fun doing it.

The learning curve is a lot different than most sports you will try. In surfing you are always learning and progressing.

Your Surfboard

Having the right equipment always helps you perform better. In surfing this is even more important. A good board can make the difference between catching 20 waves or 0 waves in your session.

It’s not about having the newest model. Instead you need to learn a bit about surfboard volume. The volume of a surfboard is the measurement of how much flotation the board has. Like the volume of a cube, surfboard volume is the products of the length, width and thickness of a given surfboard.

When you start surfing, you will want lots of volume. Most beginners do best with a longboard or a foam board.) Look for a board that is wide, thick, and long. When you learn to surf during our free lesson program, you will start on a foam board and then work up (or down in volume) from there.


Do You Need a Wetsuit?

Some winter days get cool enough for a wetsuit but we are fortunate to live in South Florida where wetsuit days are far and few between. Check with our local wave forecast to see the water temperature before you go.

58 to 64 degrees

Occasionally during ou South Florida winters we will get a strong cold front. On these days a 3/2 should cover you.

65 to 74 degrees or warm & but windy

There are various versions of spring wetsuits that will cover you at this temperature. Generally 2mm thick, short-legged, and sleeveless will work. But spring suits vary. There are long-sleeved versions, versions with full legs, and even vests.

75 degrees and up

If the air is also warm, you’re good to go in trunks, but consider a rash guard to protect against sunburn and chafing. Ladies might want a one-piece: Bikinis are cute, but can be uncooperative.


Know Your Surf Spot & The Current Conditions

Surfer all have their favorite place to get their local surf report. Some head to a surf report website, a local Instagram page, or even nerd-out on a weather page to predict the forecast themselves.

Many factors come into play when getting to know your local break. Topography is the study of the ocean floor and it has a lot to do with how a wave breaks. Although, many surfers will tell you: “start on a beach break, it’s safer”. This is true, but only to a certain extent. It’s better to fall on sand then on rocks or coral reef, but there are some sandy beach breaks that are better for advanced surfers, and some rocky point breaks that are ideal for beginner surfers. If that is not confusing enough, when you factor in the weather, everything can change. A spot that is normally mellow can easily change to more advanced surfing conditions with a strong weather system.There is a lot that factors into wave conditions.

So before you get in the water, check your local surf report, check the beach flags, and even check in with your local lifeguards.


Have Someone To Show You The Basics

When you decide you want to surf and catch the bug, there’s equipment to master, rules to learn, and lingo to catch onto. Then there is the constantly changing ocean, tides, swells, and breaks. But if you love to surf you’ll go out in slop. You’ll get turned back by waves that are too big at least once. You’ll get tossed around underwater. And, one day you will probably get smacked with your own board. It’s humbling. But it’s also worth it.

So take the time to learn the right techniques when you start so you do not have to break bad habits in the future. Join our free group lessons every Saturday morning. Sign up for a private lesson. Or, rent a board and have an experienced friend or surf coach show you the right basics for the first few days.

Spend some time on the beach going through safety stuff, learning about the ocean, rip currents, tides, and hazards. Learn how to pop-up on your board and where to position your body. Determine your stance.

Then once you have the basics down, head into the whitewater to practice catching already broken waves and popping up to stand. Your instructor or friend can give you a push at first to help you with speed and timing.


Don't Be a Kook!

There are many unwritten rulesin surfing: don’t paddle inside, don’t drop in, don’t snake a wave, don’t ditch your surfboard, and so on. Here's a few quick lessons to keep you from looking like a total kook.


The drop in is the main violation of surf ethics. It’s the one we see way too often.Basically, it means “stealing” somebody else’s wave. Quality waves are meant to be ridden by only 1 surfer. This way the lone surfer can enjoy specific powerful areas of the wave, where only 1 surfer can fit.

So how to know if it’s your wave or somebody else’s? When you paddle for a wave, look on both sides (right and left) before you take off. If a surfer is catching the wave further inside, closer to the peak, he has priority. If you are closer to the peak, then you will be the one with the longest ride, so you have priority.


We have seen how to do this in point #3. This is a very important aspect of surf ethics.


If you are new to surfing, you might not know this. Every surf spot has its own “vibe”. Some spots are more “localized” then others.This means some local surfers are more “inviting” to strangers than others, and this varies in different surf spots. Just always remember: you are not home. These surfers might have been surfing these waves for years, since they are kids. When you get to a surf spot, take time to feel and analyze the vibe. Be positive, respectful and unselfish. Share waves and don’t drop in!

October 16, 2019 — Cheyne Cottrell