Beginner Surfing Tips

Maybe you've always wanted to learn to surf, but didn't live close to the ocean, were a bit intimidated, or simply never had the chance. It's not too late to pick it up; everyone starts as a beginner, so if you've always wanted to surf, we recommend getting out there with a board when you next get the chance. We spoke to Dan Feller, a surf instructor in the Rockaways, about some common beginner mistakes, what to avoid, and what to do to successfully catch some waves on your first time out.

The right beginner surfboard

"I really think soft top surfboards are the way to go for your first year of surfing. Locals that surf Rockaway everyday will ride foam boards called 'Wavestorms' (purchased at Costco for $179.99) because they catch even the smallest waves and are very playful in the water."

Wait to drop major cash

"While the handshaped boards you see at Pilgrim or Saturdays or any other NYC shop sure look nice, there's no reason to drop money on those boards when you are learning. Until you can catch every wave you try for and are making bottom turns on the wave, stick with board over 8 feet and either buy a Wavestorm from Costco or get something used on Craigslist. "


"Best conditions for learning are waves 1-3 feet with good winds. Winds are really important but unfortunately few beginners are cognizant of this fact. Look for either no wind or a wind from the north or the northwest."


"Most beginners sit on their boards too close to shore. One should sit further back and start paddling earlier so as to 'glide' into an unbroken wave rather than trying to catch a wave while it is steep and nosediving."

How to avoid tipping

"A common mistake is that beginners put their hands too close to the rails when 'popping up', which causes the board to tip when you are trying to stand. Try locating your hands directly under your chest."