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How Long Does it Take to Learn to Surf

Surfing is a beloved sport all around the world. Millions of people take part in surfing and have a passion for it.

You’ve probably seen someone surfing through waves and always longed to try it yourself. It’s a unique sport that many people desire to try.

So if you’ve wanted to learn how to surf and have always wondered how long does it take to learn to surf, you’ve come to the right place.

The most frequently asked questions when it comes to surfing are:

  • How long does it take to learn to surf?
  • How hard is it to learn to surf?
  • How long does it take to stand up on a surfboard?

These questions aren’t necessarily black and white, because everyone will be slightly different in their surf journey, but keep reading to find out what it takes to learn to surf so you can better know how much time it will take you personally.

Is Surfing Hard?

While surfing is probably one of the most challenging sports I have ever tried, there are still sports out there that are harder.

If you’ve never tried water sports in the past, surfing might not be the one you want to start with.

Not only do you have to be comfortable in the water and in the ocean, but it also takes a lot of balance which doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

If you have always dreamt of learning to surf and being a surfer then we are here to help make that dream come true and turn you into that surfer that you have always dreamt of.

What’s great about the sport is that someone at any age can do it. Whether you are 16 or 60, you can learn how to surf. Although, as with anything the earlier in life you learn the easier it will be.

Also, once you know how to surf, it’s an excellent one-person sport. You can surf anytime and anywhere there are waves. I’ve even managed to surf in Munich before, on a river during Oktoberfest.

You never have to rely on friends or teammates to be available to partake in the sport you love because you can do it all on your own.

Every day you go out and surf, you will become a better surfer.

So How hard is Surfing?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would put surfing at about a 9.

However, once you learn how to surf and catch the wave on your own without anyone pushing you into the wave, the great thing is that you can continuously perfect your craft. The key to getting better at surfing is practice, practice, practice.

To be a good surfer takes practice, patience, and dedication.

Of course, there are always people who can pick up a sport immediately, but that is not always the case for most people.

It often takes trial and error before you learn how to get up and stay on the surfboard. The more time you spend learning how to surf, the faster and easier it will be to truly be good at surfing.

Girl Taking Surf Lesson

How Long Does it Take to Learn to Surf?

Now, don’t be intimidated. There isn’t a ton you need to learn to get up on the board when you’re first starting out. The actual basics and fundamentals of surfing are relatively uncomplicated and easy to learn.

But we highly recommend starting off with taking a lesson. This is very important when learning to surf. Not only will your instructor teach you the basics on land, before hitting the waves. They will be there with you in the water to ensure you catch the waves.

For starters, when taking a surfing lesson, you will usually spend about 30 minutes to an hour going over fundamentals before getting in the water.

Your instructor will teach you where to lay on the board and how to pop up onto it once you catch a wave.

Mastering lying on the board and being able to pop up, is key before you even catch your first wave.

You will also learn how to paddle out into the water safely, how to react when a wave is coming at you while you’re paddling, and good old fashion surfing etic so you don’t surf like a jerk.

Your instructor will also teach you how to be safe in the water with your board, so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else around you.

First Time Surfing

Once you’re in the water, your instructor will help show you which waves are good for surfing, how to get up and down off the board, how to pop up onto the board, and how to ride a wave.

Lessons usually only last about an hour or two in total. One hour on the beach and one hour in the water. This is plenty of time for your first attempt at surfing, you will be tired and broken after your first lesson.

Surfing is a tiring sport, especially if you’re not used to using certain muscles. Your fitness level plays a role as well, there is a lot of paddling, balance, and swimming involved.

Some people require more than one lesson, when you are first starting off, it is hard to catch waves on your own. Not only will you most likely not have the muscle power to do so, but timing the wave can also be challenging.

On top of that staying balanced while you are paddling to catch the waves.

Taking more than one lesson will help you really grasp the sport and accelerate you for being a decent surfer faster.

If you can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money of taking lessons or attending a surf camp, it is still very possible to learn to surf on your own, it is just going to take longer.

Having a friend or a buddy is a great way to learn as well, as you guys can push each other into the waves.

Can you learn to surf in a day?

For the most part, you will be able to stand up and ride your first wave during your first surf lesson. But if you want to become a real surfer, catch your own waves and get into the green room, it is going to take a while longer.

If you’re taking an hour lesson while on a vacation, you’re not going to leave as a surfer. You might get up on the board once or twice and learn the basics of the sport, but you won’t have the agility and complex understanding of surfing.

Surfing takes time and continuous practice.

The good news is that anyone can learn to surf if they have the determination, patience, time, and ability to do so.

After you’ve continued to get up on the board regularly, you can progress your skills to become an intermediate or even advanced rider in about 6 months of surfing  4 – 5 times a week.

The more you practice, the faster you will learn how to surf. If you have the time on your hands, you should surf as often as possible if you want to get good at the sport quickly.

Surf Lessons and Surf Schools

If you’re hoping to learn how to surf as soon as possible, the best thing you could do is join a surfing school.

This is a great way to get a lot of practice with highly trained surf instructors. You will also get to meet new people and have a fantastic experience.

Some surf schools are overnight camps, and others are day schools. If you’re going on vacation to a popular surfing location, you will likely find tons of surf schools in the area worth checking out.

The best way is to go a on tropical warm vacation somewhere and decade a week of your life to just learning how to surf. There are some great suggestions for places to learn to surf, if you truly want to become a surfer.

It’s vital that you take a lesson, whether through a surf school or instructors offering surf lessons.

This will teach you the fundamentals. On top of that, watch videos on surfing basics. Here are some that we suggest.

For your safety, it’s best to get good instructions for the basis of your surfing education. This will prevent you from hurting yourself and others.

If you are near the ocean as well, head down to the beach and watch others surf. This will help you learn to read the waves and help you accelerate your surfing game.

two girls in bikinis duck diving

Tips for learning to surf faster

Most people struggle with their foot position, which is the hardest part for beginners. It also depends on the quality of waves in your area because this can play a huge role in your ability to get up on the board.

Below are the most important things to keep in mind when learning to surf:

  • How to pop up onto the board
  • How to paddle into the ocean
  • How to guard yourself against waves while padding out

Popping up onto the board

Popping up onto the board and standing on it is the hardest thing you can do in surfing. It’s hard to get the hang of at first, but it’s also challenging to do it well and consistently.

The movement of standing on the board is unique to surfing and can feel awkward at first.

However, you can continue to practice on land until it feels comfortable and natural to your body. This will take the most time to learn. For some, it takes a few hours to get up, and for others, it could take dozens of hours.

Paddling into the ocean

While this might look easy, it’s an intricate part of surfing. You will constantly be paddling to keep yourself in the proper position, and you must paddle to get past the waves so you can catch them. It takes practice and can be super taxing on your body physically.


Becoming a true surfer means you must be good at paddling, which can take days, months and sometimes even years to perfect. Not only that, but you must also be able to read the waves.

All in all, you will be able to surf your first wave in your first lesson, but your instructor will be pushing you into the wave. If you want to become a true surfer, it is going to take you at least several months of practiing to truly get the hang of hanging ten.

All this can vary depending on the person, their fitness level, experience level with balance and agility, and the surfing conditions, among many other factors.

It’s not a one fits all answer or sport, but that’s okay. It’s an awesome sport that will leave you feeling exhilarated, and if you have the opportunity to learn to surf, you should absolutely take it.

Once you become a surfer you are going to want to know where to surf

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