Tips on What to Expect of Your First Surf Lesson

Two surfers in the water next to each other.

Of course, it is possible to learn to surf on your own, but starting with a lesson can advance your surfing quicker than trying independently.

With the input of an experienced and qualified instructor, you are guided on technique step by step at the earliest stages of your progression. Surf lessons also provide invaluable safety knowledge that you may not otherwise pick up when learning the sport on your own.

Here at Wetsuit Centre, we are huge advocates for beginners surf lessons! In this blog, we look over the main things to expect when attending a surf lesson so you can feel prepared and have as much fun as possible on the day!

A surf instructor with tow beginner surfers in wetsuits and carrying a board.

You Don’t Need to Worry About Surfing Equipment

If you are thinking, 'I don’t have a wetsuit or a surfboard', you will be relieved to know these will often be provided by the company organising the surf lesson.


Rashvests are usually worn under the wetsuit to protect your skin from rubbing, and you may contemplate purchasing one before your lesson if you are aware that your skin is susceptible to rubbing. Here at Wetsuit Centre, we have a wide range of children’s, women’s and men’s rashvests for you to choose.

However, you will most likely be given a coloured rashguard by the surf centre to wear over your wetsuit. The coloured rashvest is so the surf instructor/s can identify you in the water. Usually, different schools in the area will have different coloured rashvests, so students don’t get mixed up between schools or miscounted.

But You Will Still Need a Swimming Costume and Towel

In terms of ‘equipment’, you just need to make sure you have some form of swimming costume/bikini or shorts to wear under your wetsuit. This is mainly for personal comfort, and to avoid possible rub from the wetsuit.

Ensure you have packed a towel so you can get dry after the session!

Bird’s-eye view of the sea with surfers.

Remember to Apply Waterproof Sun Cream

The main thing you need to think about taking with you is any sun protection. Even on seemingly overcast days, sun protection is still necessary. Harmful sun rays are more likely to reach your skin when in the sea due to light reflecting off the shiny surface of the water.

Try not to get caught out and ensure you have adequate protection when going into the sea.

A red and yellow flag on the beach.

You Will Be Educated on Beach Safety

At the start of your lesson, your instructor should go over health and safety basics as well as guiding you on the practical aspect of surfing. This will include things such as:

• How to choose safe locations to surf,
• What the lifeguarded beach flags mean,
• What rips are,
• How to signal for help if you are in trouble,
• How to safely finish a wave, such as protecting your head,
• How and when to paddle for waves,
• How to pop-up.

For a head start on health and safety while visiting the coast, why not take a look at our guide to basic beach safety?

A broken wave in the sea.

You Will Be in the White Water

When you first learn to surf, you will be based in the white water. The white water is the section of the sea where the waves break.

Why Do Beginners Learn in White Water?

There are several reasons that beginners learn in white water. It is easier to catch waves here, meaning that you should have more practice on your feet, which will be much more beneficial for you as a beginner, let alone much more fun!

If you are in a group lesson with a range of ages and swim strengths, it is safer to remain at waist-depth where people can stand. Furthermore, it also keeps the group together instead of spreading further out to sea.

You may see more advanced surfers further out to sea, in a section before the waves have broken. This is often referred to as the ‘outback’. Here, you may see them paddle into and catch these unbroken waves, also referred to as ‘green waves’. This is what you will be aiming for as you advance in your surfing. However, it is essential to remain in the section where your surf instructor has told you to go.

A beach with many people in the sea.

You Should Stay Close to Your Instructor

When you hit the water, try to remain reasonably close to your instructor. Not only do rips tend to pull you away from your original spot (your surf instructor will constantly call you back) but the closer you are, the more likely they are to witness you catching waves and offer you constructive feedback and tips to improve!

Try to Be Aware of Others in the Water

On a beautiful day, especially during the school holidays, the sea can be a busy place! Try to check in front of you before you catch waves to make sure you avoid ploughing into any innocent bystanders! Also, make sure no one is already on the wave and heading towards you.

Hopefully, we have helped you to feel more prepared for your first surf lesson! If you have already experienced a surf lesson, how was it? Do you have any advice you would like to share on our social media channels for other budding beginners? We would love to hear from you!

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