I’ve always been a beach girl even though I was born and raised in Oregon, and the beach here is just a freezing cold “coastline”. The first time (and only time until recently) I went surfing I was about 10 years old on a family trip to Hawaii. I don’t remember much but apparently I actually caught a wave! I think the extent of my surfing was standing on the board and riding the wave in, but at least I stood up! Tip had not surfed before and I was longing to go again, so while we were in Nicaragua I made sure that we took some surfing lessons. We contacted Arena Caliente Surf Camp, a local surf camp in San Juan Del Sur and we were all set for lessons. Even though we had huge 8-9 feet waves the day we took our lesson, we both were able to ride some waves and soon enough we’ll be making our pro debuts! Here’s everything you need to know to learn how to surf like a local.
- Take a lesson or two
- We set up lessons with Arena Caliente the day before, they picked us up from our villa, picked up a board and took us to Playa Remanso. It was just the 2 of us doing lessons, and we each had our own instructor, which was awesome! Usually there are multiple people with different skill sets, with one instructor, which makes it hard to really get the most of the lesson. But these guys were able to focus on us and really give us some good tips to ride the waves. It also helped that they told us which wave to ride and when to get up on the board! They also took photos of us for free!
- Practice on the sand first
- If you’re taking lessons the instructors will go over the surfing basics on land first. Like where to lay on the board, how to get on your feet, nice athletic stance as you’re riding the waves. They won’t put you in the water until you’ve mastered the basics.
- What to wear
- Ladies you need more than just a bikini! That thing will fly right off once you’re thrashed by a wave! Most places will give you a rash guard if you are doing lessons. You just throw it on over the swimsuit and helps protect your skin from the board. Make sure you have some good swim bottoms that aren’t too flimsy or are too loose. Men can pretty much wear type of board shorts but also make sure they can’t fall off. We don’t want the waves taking your pants off!
- Learn how to paddle correctly
- You can’t paddle softly. When they say to paddle, you paddle like your life depends on it. Your strokes should reach far out in front of you and dig deep into the water. As the waves get bigger, it moves faster, which means you must be paddling just as fast to keep up!
- Hand placement
- Make sure to place your hands on TOP of the board before you pop up, not on the sides. You will basically do a pushup to get off the board. Once you’ve put your hands on the board you have to pop up onto your feet quickly, or you’ll miss the wave. If you dont get up fast enough, it will throw your weight off-balance.
- Learn when is the best time to catch a wave
- For me, this was the hardest part, but luckily I had my instructor telling me when to get up! It’s all about practice and getting comfortable knowing when is the best time to stand up. If you get up too early, you will miss the wave. Once the board feels like its gliding on the wave, that is when you want to stand.
- Prepare to fall off AT LEAST a couple times!
- And you will probably crash into some big waves while you’re doing it. In fact, the waves were so big the day we took our lessons that we actually lost our GoPro in the ocean by an attack of a big wave 🙁
- Practice, Practice, Practice
- You think those pros became good overnight?! Get out there and get to work! As for us, we will definitely be practicing our surfing again soon!
Now you are ready to surf like a local!
What other tips do you have?
**If you happen to be in Nicaragua, check out Arena Caliente! Lessons were $30/person for pickup/dropoff, board rental and 90 minute lessons. They were really awesome, not only with the lessons but just overall friendly. As I mentioned we lost our GoPro, but both instructors were willing to help us look in the water for almost an hour. And even after we had thrown in the towel and headed back to town, Hamir told us he would be coming back to the beach later and would continue to look! They really were great people and instructors!