A Beginners Guide to Surfing

If you’re looking to begin surfing, here is what you need to know before getting started.


Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

When you start surfing, it can be really intimidating to know how to pick your board and all the other equipment you’ll need. Here is a beginners guide to surfing with all the equipment you are going to need, and where to get it.

The first thing you’re going to need, of course, is a surfboard. There are lots of different types of boards you can get. First, there are foam longboards, which are recommended for people who have just started surfing. These boards are the easiest to get up on and won’t take any damage if you drop them. You could also get a hard top longboard, which is for you if you want to be able to get up on a wave easily, as well as walk up and down your board. But, one thing to know about longboards is they are hard to carry around with you. They typically range from 8′-11′, making transporting difficult. Another board option is a fun shape surfboard, which is for you if you like longboarding but would like to turn faster. Fun shapes are shorter than longboards and are easier to carry around, and tend to be easier to turn on the waves. One last option is a short board. These are best for you if you want to be able to do tricks and fast turns on waves. Short boards are the easiest to carry around with you, but they are the hardest to get up on a wave with. Another thing to note when getting a short board is the waves here in Florida are a lot smaller than other places. Short boards are made for surfing bigger waves, so that will add to the difficulty of trying to get up when the waves are small. Then, one last thing is if you get a hardtop board of any size, you need to remember that they are made of fiberglass. Being fragile, they will get cracks or dents in them if you drop them or are too rough with them, so make sure you are careful with your surfboard.    

Something you have to consider when buying any board is the amount of fins you want to install and make sure the board you choose to buy has that many fin slots. There are many things you need to know when buying fins. First, you will need to know how many fins you want. The best and most common number of fins to have on your board is three, since this setup provides you with good stability. More advanced surfers sometimes like to have one fin on their longboard or four or more fins on a shortboard. The best thing to do is get a board that has at least four slots, so if you want to add more fins as you continue to surf, then you don’t have to buy a whole new board as you advance. You will notice that when you buy fins, they come in many different sizes. You have to make sure the fins you’re buying fit in your board.  

The next thing you’ll need to get is wax. Surfboard wax is a necessity, because when you try to catch a wave without putting on wax it’s like walking on ice, and you won’t be able to stand up. There are many brands of surfboard wax, and each is tailored to specific water and temperature conditions. In Florida, the water never gets very cold, so if it’s summer time you would get the “tropical” wax, and if it’s winter or spring you would get the “warm” wax. Another thing that will provide you with grip is traction pads. These pads allow your feet to stabilize on the board, and they can be used instead of, or in addition to, the wax of your choice. Though you can pick one or the other, your safest bet is to have both. If you are buying a short board, you are definitely going to need a traction pad. Make sure the one you want fits on your board and doesn’t hang over the edge.    

When you are surfing, having a leash is an absolute necessity. The leash attaches to the back of your board and then velcros around your ankle of the leg you keep near the back of the board, so that if you fall off your board it won’t get pushed away with the wave. When you buy your leash, you need to make sure that it is either the same length as your board, or a little bit longer. It can never be shorter than your board or else you won’t be able to stand up properly.    

In addition to equipment you may need, the water in winter at Florida beaches is around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Something you will need to buy if you want to surf in the winter is a wetsuit. In Florida, it’s best to get a 3mm wetsuit. Since the water is not incredibly cold, it is not necessary to have a thicker wetsuit. The wetsuit will help lock in heat, and maintain your body warmth so you don’t get too cold while you’re catching waves.

There are a lot of different places you can buy your needed equipment from. One of the places you can go is Core Surf which is a local surf shop in Cocoa Beach. They have new and used surfboards with all different sizes and designs. They will also have all the rest of the equipment you will need. Another place you can try is Ron Jon Surf Shop. This shop will also have most things you need in store, but you may not find your specific wants. Ron Jon only sells new boards, so if you want to get a used board you should go to Core Surf. Another way you could buy your board is buying it second-hand from somebody who wants to sell their old one. You can either ask around or use sites such as Facebook market place. Many times, you can find someone local who you either know personally or is a mutual willing to sell an old board.  

“ The way I bought my longboard is from my old surf coach who wanted to sell his,” Akira (12).

After you buy all of your surfing equipment you will need to find a beach to surf at. There are lots of things you can keep in mind when looking for a beach. You could find a beach that is the closest to you and surf there for convenience. There is also an app called Surfline, which is an app where you can check all the beaches near you to see what beach has the best waves. When you are just beginning surfing, it is best to find a beach with medium waves so that you can practice your stance and technique without having to worry about the big waves crashing on you or pulling you under.  

“I prefer surfing in Cocoa Beaches because they are closest to me,” Akira (12).

Overall, there are a lot of different options for your equipment, places to go surfing, etc. Find a color or style of equipment that best suits you, be creative. At the end of the day, just make sure you’re having fun.