Beginner’s Guide: Everything You Need to Start Surfing

Surfing is an exhilarating water sport that allows you to connect with the ocean and ride the waves. If you’re a beginner eager to catch your first wave, this guide will help you get started. We’ve teamed up with the crew at 10 Over Surf Shop to discover what you need to kick start your surfing journey.

Choosing the Right Surfboard

Foam Surfboards vs. Hard Surfboards

Foam Surfboards, like the Catch Surfboard range, are ideal for beginners as they provide better stability and being made of high-density foam provide a level of protection for the inevitable wipeout! 

Hard Surfboards are for more intermediate surfers; they are less stable but offer better manoeuvrability. They also take a little more effort to look after and can get “dinged” if you hit something. Your end goal is to be surfing a hard board, choosing either longboarding or shortboarding.

Surfboard Size Matters

For beginners, choose a longer and wider board for stability. Aim for a length between 7’ to 9’ feet, depending on how tall you are and how often you surf. The more volume in a surfboard the easier it will be to catch waves and stand up.

As you progress, you can switch to smaller boards for increased maneuverability.

Selecting the Appropriate Surf Gear

  • Wetsuit

Invest in a good quality wetsuit to keep you warm in colder waters. Thickness varies depending on the water temperature; choose accordingly. If you only have enough cash for one wetsuit to use year round in the UK we suggest the Rip Curl range in the 4/3mm thickness. If you plan on surfing between November and March we recommend wetsuit boots, gloves and even a hood!

  • Surfboard Leash

A surfboard leash attaches your ankle to the surfboard, preventing it from drifting away. Choose a leash length that matches the size of your board. For example, a 7’ surfboard would suit a 6’ leash. An 8’ surfboard would benefit from a 7’ leash and so on.

  • Surf Wax

Apply surf wax to the deck of your board for better grip. Use a base coat for the entire deck and a topcoat wax for traction where your feet will be placed. For the UK the most common type of surf wax is “Cold” – if you travel overseas to warmer climates then you’ll want to strip that wax off and add either “Warm” or “Tropical” wax to your surfboard. The warmer the climate the harder the wax.

Learning the Basics of Paddling and Positioning

  • Paddling

Practice paddling to build strength and endurance. Position yourself correctly on the board, with your chest up and head looking forward.

  • Positioning

Find the “sweet spot” on your board, usually around the center, to maintain balance.

Practice popping up from a lying position to a standing position on the beach.

Understanding Wave Etiquette

  • Right of Way

The surfer closest to the breaking part of the wave has the right of way. Respect the lineup and avoid “drop-ins” (catching a wave someone else is already riding).

  • Priority Rules 

Yield to surfers who are closer to the peak or riding the wave.

Safety Tips for Beginner Surfers

  • Respect the Ocean

Be aware of tides, currents, and local hazards.Start in small waves and gradually progress to larger ones as you gain confidence.

  • Know Your Limits

Don’t push yourself too hard; progress at your own pace. If conditions become challenging, it’s okay to call it a day.

Getting Professional Instruction

  • Take a Surf Lesson

Consider taking lessons from a certified surf instructor to learn the basics and safety guidelines. They can provide personalized feedback to enhance your skills. Women + Waves offer a super foundational beginner surf course in Newquay where new surfers can fast travel their progress. 

  • Practice, Practice, Practice


  • Consistency is Key:

Surfing is a skill that improves with practice. Spend as much time in the water as possible to build confidence and proficiency.

Starting to surf is an exciting journey filled with challenges and rewards. By selecting the right equipment, learning the basics, respecting the ocean, and staying consistent with practice, you’ll be well on your way to catching your first wave and enjoying the thrilling world of surfing. 

Stay safe, have fun, and ride those waves!

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