How Long Does It Take To Learn To Surf?

How long does it take to learn to surf?

In the world of sports, surfing is not the most difficult. But if you’re willing to give it a go, then there are some things you should know before living the dream.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that surfing is not something you should only try during summer vacations and is definitely not a fun activity that you should do every day of the year.

Surfing is a sport with countless specifics, tricks, and equipment. There’s no way you can just buy a board and go searching for the best waves in the world; it could even endanger your life.

Surfing requires commitment and repetition. You will learn and advance more quickly the more waves you catch.

The good news is that learning the fundamentals is comparatively simple and quick. You’re prepared to get wet once you understand the underlying theory of the surfboard and the wave.

There will be a lot more to enhance, correct, and polish as you advance to the intermediate and advanced levels. But that’s a different dance.

How Difficult Is It To Learn To Surf?

One of the most difficult sports is surfing. It takes a lot of work, persistence, passion, and patience. Learning to surf is between a level 4 and a level 7 challenge on a scale of 1 to 10.

It all comes down to your commitment and capacity to cross off a few crucial items.

It can be challenging to learn how to ride a wave, accelerate, turn, and catch waves.

On the other hand, the effort is also worthwhile!

It may seem difficult work for experienced surfers to get from the beach to carving a perfect wave to novice surfers.

However, if the conditions are perfect, some people might be able to ride their first wave after only 60 minutes of practice. Your diligence will pay off when it comes to surfing.

When you push yourself to experience the natural elements in the water, you feel a sense of freedom and unbridled joy that is unlike anything else.

Sure, surfing can be difficult, but anyone who works hard enough can succeed.

How Quickly Can You Learn To Surf?

The time it takes to learn to surf is not fixed. Within 60 minutes of practicing, some people are riding the first wave.

Simply put, it all depends on you and how quickly you pick things up. How long each person will need to ride their first wave is difficult to predict.

Most people can ride their first wave within the first few hours of the lesson, which is pretty amazing given the right conditions and a qualified surf instructor.

But there are lots of things to think about. Let’s look at those.

Learning To Surf Stages: Basics

To truly learn to surf, one must first comprehend what that entails. The category “learn to surf” includes a wide range of skills, so below I’ve listed each stage in chronological order with an estimate of how long it might take you to get there.

Riding Whitewater Waves In The Shallows (first-timer)

All beginning surfers will attempt to ride the whitewater waves in the shallows as their first move. As a result, they are a welcoming and enjoyable place to start. These waves break in water that ranges from knee to chest depth.

Additionally, if you try to venture out into the surf, you will encounter these waves first.

If you have a big board that is ideal for learning, generally a soft-top foam surfboard that is about 2 feet longer than you are tall, then you could catch and ride a few of these waves in your first few attempts.

A beginner’s first attempt at standing up on a surfboard is never easy, but many succeed if they are on the right board.

Actually, due to their suitability for teaching, these are the types of waves that surf schools typically use to instruct their students.

Riding Whitewater Waves Further Out (beginner)

You should ride whitewater waves a little further from the shore after a few more practice sessions.

Your ability to paddle, sit up on your board, duck dive, and stand up are considered to be the “functional” elements of surfing. This will happen once you have developed a little more confidence in the water.


It’s much harder than it seems to paddle a surfboard. It can take a long time to get used to how unstable surfboards are in the water.

When learning to surf, be prepared to paddle in many different directions because the sea is constantly moving and there are additional challenges like approaching waves and other surfers to overcome.

Going from sitting on your board to paddling in the opposite direction can take some practice. You will also need to be able to paddle to catch a wave at the right time.

For this reason, it will usually take anywhere from 20-50 hours in the surf before you are able to paddle confidently on a surfboard.

Consider also how much easier it is to paddle a bigger board. If you are having trouble paddling, just keep practicing in the shallows, and it will get easier.

Sitting Up On Your Surfboard

Despite how simple it sounds, learning to sit up on a surfboard is extremely difficult, along with learning to paddle.

The first time I was able to sit up on my board with assurance took me many months of surfing, in my memory.

To relieve your chest and lungs from all the paddling, which can be strenuous and uncomfortable at first, it’s helpful to sit up on a surfboard.

Sitting up is also very beneficial for having more visibility because you are higher above the waves and can see them coming sooner and with more clarity.

Expect this seemingly easy part of surfing to take you 50-80 hours to learn properly, although it is much harder on smaller boards, so allow for that if you are trying to learn to surf on a board that is smaller than recommended.

Duck Diving

Surfers used to duck dive under approaching waves that had already broken, thus earning the name.

To avoid being hit by the wave, they push their board down and dive under it like a duck under water.

The duckdive is a crucial part of any surfing session because, as you paddle out, a broken wave will almost always come at you; if you don’t duck dive, you will feel the full force of the wave and be pushed back toward shore!

To learn to duck dive properly, plan on 50 hours of surfing. This is due to the fact that it is a technique that integrates paddling, balance, and timing. It’s also almost impossible to duck dive some of the bigger learner surfboards, so you will need to look at doing an eskimo roll instead if you are on a longboard or thick foam board.

How to Rip on YouTube has a great step-by-step video on this that is included below if you want to learn more about how to duck dive.

Standing Up

You’ll be capable of standing up on the waves you’re attempting to catch once you’ve mastered the technique of paddling past a few waves closer to shore.

The most difficult part of surfing is likely standing up on any wave. It requires a lot of getting used to and is a movement that is specific to surfing.

However, for just standing up on broken whitewater waves, you could figure out how to do this down in a fairly short amount of time, but the problem is that you have to paddle and duck dive first!

With that in mind, expect it to still take you around 20-50 hours of surfing to be able to stand up on broken white water waves a bit further offshore.

At this point, you can also begin to develop a sense for how to balance while riding your surfboard. Going directly to the beach requires a different kind of balance than riding an unbroken wave, which requires more skill.

Naturally, the more waves you catch, the quicker this will be, but don’t expect to be able to catch many waves at first!

Everything becomes simpler, including getting up on a surfboard on a broken wave. It’s also a lot easier than the take-off needed for an unbroken wave, as we’ll look at in the next section.


Factors That Affect Your Surf Learning Process

A few factors can influence how quickly or slowly you learn new things. These include your age, physical condition, good balance, the type of surfboard you use, whether you have taken lessons or are self-taught, and your level of physical fitness.

Let’s discuss them.

It’s Much Easier To Surf If You’re Physically Fit

Your surfing lessons will go more smoothly if you are in reasonably good physical condition!

The shoulders and arms can get tired from paddling and jumping up on the board. One of the most vital components of surfing is arm and shoulder endurance.

Additionally, carrying a heavy board around can quickly deplete your energy. Physically fit people therefore have much better chances of learning more quickly than those who are less fit.

You will be able to exercise for between 40 and 60 minutes, which will give you enough time in the water before you need to take a break. Inadvertently, this will cause the learning curve to accelerate.

Your chance of catching a wave increases with your paddling speed.

A Good Coach Can Speed Up The Process

You can focus solely on standing on the board with the help of a surf instructor who will take care of all your worries.

You can avoid hours of mistakes by having someone adjust your positioning, direct you when to start paddling, direct you which wave to take, and encourage you.

Another benefit of having a companion in the water with you while you learn to surf is that they can give you a push.

It’s crucial to move quickly when boarding a wave.

A boost is provided by having a surf instructor, who can also assist you in building up enough speed to ride that wave effortlessly down the beach.

It will be more difficult for you to pick something up quickly without a friend or coach to teach you.

You can find a fantastic instructor and a group who can help you learn to surf at the Tommy Tsunami Surf School!

Having A Good Balance Helps

Having good balance is crucial when learning to surf! Surfing is not possible if you are unable to balance on the board.

Moving around the board will be easier for you if you have more flexibility. Additionally, you won’t be as likely to harm yourself.

Keep in mind that it is simpler to balance larger boards.

You Must Choose The Right Surfboard

It will be easier to stand on a larger board.

A floating object with a larger surface area is less likely to topple over and offers a larger support area.

Knowing what your board is made of is another crucial consideration when choosing one.

Keep in mind that the surfboard you select will depend greatly on your height and weight.

Choosing a board that is too small or thin could cause you to sink.

Check out this for more information on choosing the right surfboard for you.

Being Consistent Is Vital

The most important element is consistency. You will take longer to learn the fundamentals of surfing if you lack consistency and motivation. Your learning process may be slowed down as a result.

Aim to improve your surfing by practicing and staying motivated. The ability to surf well will also help you become a pro in no time.

Having The Right Conditions To Surf

The right conditions for your level of surfing can be very beneficial. Unbroken, calm waves are simpler to ride and control.

You can also learn a neat pop-up technique that will put you in a balanced position and work on steeper unbroken waves. This will make turning and generating speed simple.

However, surfing in choppy water can be extremely difficult and dangerous. You should always wait for the smaller waves as a beginner before you begin paddling towards them.

If you don’t know when a wave is coming or where the waves will peak, it’s difficult to have a good surfing session. As a result, it’s important to constantly pay attention to how the waves and ocean as a whole are turbulent.

Younger People Learn Faster

There is no age restriction for surfing. However, young people may find surfing easier because they are more flexible, physically active, and frequently have good balance.

So, How Long Does It Take To Learn To Surf?

The time it takes to learn to surf should be measured in hours rather than days or weeks because it requires spending a lot of time in the water. Getting those hours under their belt could take months for someone who cannot consistently spend day after day learning to surf, whereas someone who can consistently spend day after day on the water could accumulate the necessary hours in a few weeks. The approximate time required to learn some of the fundamentals is given below. Remember that these are only estimates, and the actual number of hours required will depend on a variety of factors.

  • Paddling

You’ll need to get really good at paddling before you can do anything else. You can’t get out to those dangerous waves if you can’t paddle your board, after all. Paddling can be quite challenging and physically demanding, despite what an experienced surfer will portray as being easy.

You’ll find that learning to paddle without toppling the board will test your patience to the absolute limit because even the steadiest surfboards sway in the water. Once you’ve mastered a balanced paddle, you need to be able to maneuver around obstacles. Be prepared to paddle in many different directions as you navigate oncoming waves or other surfers.

It typically takes a new surfer between 20 and 60 hours to be able to paddle confidently because it takes some practice.

  • Sitting

Another element, sitting on your surfboard, may appear simple but is challenging to master. When it comes to being able to sit up on a board, balance is essential, and until you have mastered it, you will tip over and fall off more frequently than you anticipate.

When learning to surf, being able to sit on your board is crucial because it will allow you to take a break from the uncomfortable and taxing paddling. You can recover some of the energy you expend while paddling by relaxing on your board.

Additionally, sitting makes it easier to evaluate a situation. Your ability to predict the next wave and identify any potential obstacles that you might have to paddle around will improve the higher up on the board you are.

Beginner surfers should plan on needing between 50 and 60 hours to learn how to confidently sit up on a board.

  • Standing Up

It’s time to stand once you can paddle and sit up on your board with ease. Without the ability to balance on the board, surfing would not be surfing. The single hardest skill to learn and master is standing up, without a doubt. Your body will tell you that the motion required to stand up, which is specific to surfing, is awkward and impractical.

Reject what your body is trying to tell you because you can train it to believe it is natural if you have a little patience. It’s not necessary to practice standing up on water to master the various techniques. In order to practice the movements on dry land, you can take off your board’s fins. However, perfecting it on the water will also help you develop the balance required to maintain your balance while standing.

This is the hardest part of learning to surf, so it can take some time. Others might struggle, while some people will pick it up quickly. To perfect standing up, allow anywhere between 20 and 80 hours.

While the top three fundamental activities are sitting, standing, and paddling, they are not all there is to doing. Here are the other components of learning to surf that you can anticipate.

  • Duck Diving (a technique used to power through a wave instead of paddling over)- 60+ hours.
  • Ride an Unbroken Wave– 120+ hours.
  • Become a Competent and Capable Surfer– 150+ hours.

Keep in mind that everyone learning to surf will be different and that the times we have specified here are not absolute. It’s crucial to realize that learning to surf takes time and dedication. You are already well on your way to learning how to surf if you have those two things.


Don’t let the amount of work required to improve as a surfer deter you if you want to learn to surf.

Several things to remember are as follows:

  • The fundamentals are not too difficult to learn.
  • Don’t be discouraged.
  • Gradually getting better at surfing.
  • Most of the suffering can be alleviated by a skilled coach.

So why are you still waiting? Let’s head out to conquer the waves while you grab your surfboard.

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