Perhaps you’ve stood, watching, longing to join. Maybe you’re intimidated to try, or don’t know where to begin. Regardless, you can’t deny that — deep down inside — your inner surfer is itching to hit the waves.
If this sounds like you, there’s good news: There are plenty of seasoned New England surfers who want to help you learn.
“It can be intimidating to learn to surf, but it shouldn’t be,” says Bobby Drought, a longtime surf instructor and founder and owner of Rhody Surf in Newport, Rhode Island. “Everyone was a beginner at one point. There’s a saying: The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”
While surfing in New England is a year-round sport (don’t forget the hooded wet suit in winter!), summer is the best time to learn, with the waves generally smaller and the ocean warmer. With the help of experienced instructors, you could soon be experiencing what Drought describes as an “incredible feeling that keeps you coming back for more.”
The surfing instructors sprinkled along the New England coast generally take newbies to the most manageable beaches — where the waves are soft and the sand forgiving — and match you with the appropriately sized board (the bigger and softer, the better for beginners). They teach the basics, from helping you find your stance to showing you how to “pop up” onto the board.
Instructors may also teach you about surf etiquette — the culture and customs all surfers need to know when they’re on the water. Learning these rules is like taking the time to learn basic Spanish and a few customs before traveling to Pamplona: You don’t want to be that person who gets someone hurt at the bull run.
We scoped out three New England surf schools that offer lessons for beginners.
1. Rhody Surf, Newport, Rhode Island
Founded by Bobby Drought in 2011, Rhody Surf (rhodysurf.com, 401-236-4846) offers kids’ surf camps as well as surf and stand-up paddle boarding lessons from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The staff encourages private, one-on-one lessons as the best way to learn.
Drought says Newport’s Easton’s Beach — or First Beach, as it’s known to locals — is a prime spot to learn because of its slow, rolling waves. Beginners start with a “dry lesson” — covering paddling, popping up, and surf etiquette — before stepping foot in the ocean.
“Knowing how to properly wipe out, and avoiding dropping in — cutting off surfers on waves — most novices can stay out of harm’s way and have fun,” Drought says.
2. Cape Ann SUP + Surf, Essex
The instructors at Cape Ann SUP + Surf (capeannsup.com, 978-233-1787) teach most of their surf lessons at Long Beach and Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester. “Both are beach-breaks, which means a nice sandy bottom and multiple breaks down the beach,” says Anneliese Brosch, a co-owner and instructor, referring to waves that form over sandy — and softer — seabeds.
SUP + Surf offers private, semi-private, and group surf lessons in addition to “surf nights” for women, as well as those for children. Brosch’s best tip for beginners: Have patience. “Surfing is challenging,” she says. “The best surfers in the water make it look extremely easy. That will take time.”
3. Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Company, Hampton, New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Seacoast is a great place for beginners, according to Dave Cropper, owner of Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Co. (cinnamonrainbows.com, 603-929-7467). “Learning at sand-bottom beach-breaks with small surf is where you want to start,” he says, adding that Jenness State Beach in Rye and North Beach in Hampton provide both if conditions are right.
The shop, which has been in business nearly 40 years, offers rentals, private and group lessons, and surf camps, including women’s surf camps. Once you get the basics down, Cropper says, you’ll find New England boasts “a great surfing community, and it’s a beautiful place to surf year-round.”
4. Surf Camp Maine, Scarborough, Maine
Dustin Turin, owner of Surf Camp Maine (surfcampme.com, 207-370-6706), has traveled the world for waves — and says Scarborough Beach in Maine is a prime learning spot. “One of Maine’s most serene sandy beaches,” he says. “The waves are generally small and mellow, which is exactly what beginners need,” adds Turin, whose father founded the school.
Surf Camp offers public and private group lessons, and summer surf camps for both adults and kids. Turin advises, “Everyone who gets in the water needs to have a certain appreciation for Mother Nature and the fact that she is much bigger and more powerful than us.”
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.