How to Choose a Good Location to Learn to Surf
When you are learning how to surf you should avoid crowded surf spots. If the waves are really crowded with other surfers, you won't have much chance of riding a wave. Some surf spots may have many surfers, but if the surf riding area is large enough you will be able to find some room. For example, I live a few miles from Dominical, Costa Rica. It is a popular surf location. Some days there may be around 70 or 80 people surfing, but there is still plenty of room for everyone to surf. Dominical Beach is a shorebreak and the area that is surfable extends the length of the beach about a mile long.
Avoid beaches where you can see rocks in the breaking portion of the waves. If you see one rock, chances are there are plenty more just out of sight under the water.
Best Beginner Surf Spots
If you can find an uncrowded beach where there are no rocks and safe whitewater to ride in on, go out as often as you can. It doesn't matter if the outer surf break isn't happening, you are just concerned with practicing paddling and standing up at this point. The more time you spend out in the water, the more you will build up your surfing fitness and surf knowledge. By safe whitewater, I mean an area where there are no sandbusters. Please do not go out into the surf when there are sandbusters crashing onto the shore.
Going out into conditions where the whitewater is really
churning is discouraging as well as dangerous. When the surf looks too
rough and makes you uneasy, listen to your instincts. As you go out
more and more, you will get a feel for what conditions are safe.
Shorebreaks, also known as beach breaks, are the best surf location for beginners to learn to surf. You want to see a location where the waves are breaking far enough out that there is sufficient whitewater to practice paddling and standing up. Some shorebreak beaches produce very consistent whitewater and are excellent locations to learn to surf because you can go out and practice every day. This is a great thing if you are learning to surf while on vacation. It can be very frustrating if you have chosen a surfing location with inconsistent surf and there are no waves and you don't have many days left. It is very important to understand the difference between good shorebreak and dangerous sandbusters. Many surfing injuries occur when beginner surfers try to ride waves that are breaking in very shallow water close to shore.
The best surf break for beginners wanting to learn to ride the face of waves is point break surf. Even if the swells are small, most point breaks will produce good surf. The great thing about point breaks are that the surf breaks only so far offshore, which allows surfers to paddle out without having to go through the impact zone. When you are at the point where you are surfing wave faces and not just the whitewater you will appreciate this advantage.
Reef breaks produce exhilarating surfing conditions, but are not the place for beginners. Reef breaks are produced by a wave breaking over rocks or coral, enough said. Pipeline in Hawaii and Cloudbreak in Fiji are two well know excellent reef break locations.