Catching a Break: A Beginner’s Surf Adventure

Kayla Hall

Once the winter is over, us snow addicts often spend the next few months counting down until next season. But waiting around can be torture, and summer offers some great ways to have fun while keeping your body in shape for the next opening day.

During the summer, I have always struggled to find something that gives me as much satisfaction as snowboarding. But last year, during my visit to Costa Rica, I felt something click when I caught my first wave. I squealed with delight like I was making a turn in some bottomless snow.

So this summer, I decided to plan a surfing trip to give it another try. I headed way south to Florida and stayed on the Atlantic side. Southern Florida in particular can be tricky when it comes to surfing, especially in the summer while the waves are unfavorable. I talked to few friends of mine who recommended spots in the North. Locals can be a great resource, and can help point you in the right direction on where to surf. (Check out or for wave reports)

After few days of searching for the perfect spot, we finally came across one at Deerfield Beach during a long and hot bike ride. The waves were not huge, but it’s perfect for someone who is just starting out, like myself. I didn’t hesitate to find a surf shop; I found one two blocks away from our breakfast spot and walked over there afterwards. Island Water Sports had great deals on rentals and offered free lessons every Saturday. The classes were full, so I didn’t get the chance to sign up, but I rented a board anyways and gave it a shot.

As I carried a board to the water, I was filled with joy and had butterflies in my stomach, as if I was about to walk up to the chairlift on a deep pow day. I jumped in the water and swam out to prepare for a wave. After a few tries, I finally caught a wave, somewhat ungracefully, and finished it off with a major wipeout. I ended up donating a pair of sunglasses to the ocean.

I kept on trying for three more hours until my body couldn’t take it anymore. I was beyond exhausted, but completely satisfied with myself for trying, even though I did not ride successfully. After all, it’s about doing your best, getting back up after being slammed into the water, and not caring about how clumsy you looked. Catching a wave will come to you with practice and determination. Do you remember when you first strapped onto a snowboard? I bet you looked silly coming down the mountain, but it didn’t even matter to you. You were probably completely stoked when you finally linked your turns or hit a rail for the first time. For anyone who has found happiness conquering your snowboard, I truly believe surfing is something you should experience at least once in your lifetime, and hopefully more than once.

Surfing back-to-back can be exhausting. It’s important to take a break so you don’t wear yourself out too much and end up becoming frustrated. Stand up paddle boarding is a great activity to do on a down day. It will work many of the muscles you use for surfing. You can even do it in the ocean when the waves are calmer and ride it out as if you are surfing. Paddling is a terrific workout, and will strengthen your arms and abs while improving your balance.

Here are few things to think about before planning your surfing trip:

  • Surfing can be cheap if you do your research. Look up all of the surf shops in your area, or wherever you’re headed for your adventure, and find the one with the best deal on rentals. If you are lucky enough to know someone who surfs, hit them up and see if they can loan you their board.
  • It is never a bad idea to take a surfing lesson or join a camp. Some instruction never hurts, and before jumping in the ocean, it important to learn about the danger of rip tides.
  • Respect the locals; don’t be like the tourists that often get in your away on the slopes. Respect the space of others and don’t cut anyone off. Respect earns respect, and you may even be rewarded with some local insider tips.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start planning your trip. Trying something new, catch some waves, and enjoy the sun, and winter will be back before you know it.

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Posted by Gabby Rainville on 07/27/14

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