surf in jaco

Top ten tips for learning to surf

Lots of people who come to our Jaco hotel want to learn to surf. Here are our top ten tips for learning to surf.

1. Have fun!

Why are you learning to surf? We hope you are learning to surf to have fun. If you are trying to learn to surf as part of an evil plan for world domination, or to impress someone other than yourself, you are probably going to be disappointed in the results. If you are trying to learn to surf to have fun, you are going to succeed. Big time!

You are going to experience the immediacy of being in the ocean.

Moments like these.. maybe fun doesn’t do it justice.

2. Be prepared.

Why not get the most out of your surf vacation? See our forthcoming post about how to get in shape while you are landlocked so when you arrive at the coast you can get the most out of your surf vacation. In the meantime, “burpees,” swimming with your head up and your back arched like water polo player, and practicing the yoga cobra and tree positions will be a good start.

surfer gets hit by lip of wave

Good preparation is the key to success. Ahem.

3. Pick the right beach for your abilities and travel style.

Big swimmer? Not so much? Want to be off the grid? Or at party central? There is a right beach for you somewhere.

Party central looks so innocent from above.

Jaco Beach is party central with the tranquility of DoceLunas one mile away. Jaco Beach has some dangerous rips, like almost any surf beach. Compared to other beaches though, it is not as much of a challenge to swim if you lose your board. Consequently, Jaco beach is suited for beginners with moderate swimming skills. Other beaches require very strong swimming skills to learn safely. Always use the buddy system when in any doubt!

4. Start with the foam.

Learning to get to your feet, balance, speed up, slow down and turn on the board is a lot easier on foam than the steeper unbroken green water face of a wave.

5. Get a board with enough flotation for you.

The bigger the surfer, the bigger the board for maximum stability, speed, and flotation to get you off to an easy and confident start. Consider about aboard 7 to 10 feet long depending on how big you are. And thick. And maybe with a soft foam top, if you are worried about falling onto it a lot.

6. Get the right school.

Make sure you will get some attention from your instructor. If you are in a school with a ten to one instructor to student ratio, you might as well just try on your own.

7. Stay Relaxed.

stay calm during wipeout surfer in foam pile

Pretending to Stay Calm

When you wipe out or get hit by a big wave coming from outside, you will be tumbled around in the foam. When the water is aerated, it can still put quite a bit of force on you, but it is hard to swim in. When you pull your arm through foamy water there is not enough resistance to move you. Its best to stay relaxed and wait for the water to firm up before swimming for the surface.

8. Count your downtime.

surfer underwater in hold down

It will seem like a long time, but if you count seconds, you will find you only have to wait 10 to 15 seconds to swim after a wipeout unless you are dealing with really huge waves.

9. Don’t get frustrated.

You are not a better surfer than you are. Enjoy what you get, and give it all you’ve got. Appreciate! Surfing is a gift.

10. And remember, you are doing this to have fun. If you are not having fun, stop and think about why that is, get your head right, and go have fun again!


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