How Long Does It Take to Learn to Surf? Master the Waves in 6 Weeks!

Table of Contents

Discover the art of standing on a surfboard, catching green waves, and progressing from a beginner to an advanced surfer. The timeline varies, influenced by fitness, prior board sports experience, wave quality, equipment, opportunity, and commitment. Generally, individuals with good fitness and prior board experience may learn faster. Whether you’re a landlocked enthusiast or a coastal adventurer, find your surfing rhythm with dedicated practice, expert guidance, and the right gear. Dive into the surf culture, and in a matter of weeks to months, experience the joy of riding waves. how long does it take to learn to surf?”

Riding the Waves: how long does it take to learn to surf with shortboard

Learning to surf with a shortboard involves mastering a unique set of skills and techniques. The duration it takes to become proficient varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as prior experience, fitness level, and the frequency of practice. Generally, individuals with previous board sports experience, such as skateboarding or snowboarding, may adapt more quickly. Fitness also plays a crucial role, as surfing demands upper-body strength and endurance.

Mastering the Waves: how long does it take to learn to surf well

The timeline to learn to surf well is a subjective journey influenced by various factors. Becoming proficient in surfing involves mastering not only the basics of paddling, popping up, and riding waves but also developing a deep understanding of the ocean and refining advanced techniques. The duration depends on individual factors such as fitness level, prior experience in board sports, and the frequency of practice. For those with a strong athletic background, progress may come more quickly. However, on average, it often takes several months to a year of consistent effort to reach a level where one can confidently navigate and perform maneuvers on a variety of waves.

Mastering the Waves: Unveiling the Learning Journey and Challenges in Surfing

Surfing, an exhilarating water sport, prompts inquiries regarding the duration required to master its intricacies. While it involves numerous details, techniques, and potential risks, the learning process is characterized by a reasonably quick and uncomplicated curve, especially for beginners. The initial phases, encompassing mastering board balance, paddling, and executing the pop-up move, typically demand two hours to a month of dedicated practice. Factors influencing this learning journey include commitment, practice frequency, and physical fitness. The sport necessitates agility, endurance, strength, and a suitable mindset, placing it in the realm of a moderately challenging activity. The learning experience ultimately becomes a rewarding journey, emphasizing the significance of persistence, patience, and motivation in mastering the art of surfing.

Our Definition of “Learning to Surf”

For this discussion, we’ll define a surfer as someone who has acquired the following core abilities:

  • Paddle out through wave zones alone
  • Consistently catch unbroken green waves
  • Control board by trimming along the wave face
  • Stand up smoothly from lying or kneeling
  • Ride in control across entire wave sections
  • Have a reliable popup to a standing position
  • Turn the board left and right on the wave face
  • Control speed by shifting weight/dragging hands
  • Wipeout less chaotically by ejecting board

So someone who has checked all those skill boxes has moved beyond the beginner zone – they’ve “learned to surf.” The time it takes to achieve that varies tremendously though based on many factors.

Navigating the Waves: Understanding the Dynamics of Learning to Surf

Frequently asked questions surround the duration it takes to learn to surf, a common inquiry from novices or those with a few weeks of surf lessons. The answer is not straightforward and depends on various factors such as fitness, prior board sports experience, practice frequency, gear, and even Mother Nature’s cooperation. Learning speed varies among individuals, adding complexity to the equation.

To address this question, let’s start with our definition of “learning to surf.” We categorize individuals based on their surf skill levels, ranging from 0.0 Never Surfed Before to 1.2 Advanced Beginner. Before delving into the time it takes, we emphasize the importance of factors like fitness, prior experience, wave quality, equipment, opportunity, and commitment. Fitness, for instance, plays a significant role, as fitter individuals tend to grasp surfing quicker due to the physical demands. Prior experience in wakeboarding or snowboarding can expedite the learning process, capitalizing on existing balance and coordination skills.

Wave quality also matters; proximity to consistent surf spots with good waves allows for more practice, accelerating skill development. Equipment, often underestimated, influences the learning curve—properly sized boards and wetsuits contribute to a smoother learning experience. Limited opportunities, such as a busy schedule or living inland, may hinder progress, while commitment proves crucial for consistent advancement.

Valentina’s story in the Algarve exemplifies accelerated learning. In the “Never Surfed Before” category, basics like paddling, popping up, and going straight can be acquired in 1-2 surf lessons. Progressing to the Advanced Beginner level may take at least a week of consistent lessons. For those eager to expedite their learning journey, we recommend our surf lessons in Portugal’s Algarve. The program includes five days of lessons, quality surf equipment, and transportation to beginner-friendly surf spots, often considered the best place to learn to surf in Europe.

6 Factors That Influence How Long It Takes to Learn Surfing

Surfing encompasses a multifaceted set of skills combining fitness, technique, balance, and judgment. Multiple factors affect the rate at which these are acquired:

1. Natural Athleticism & Coordination

As a physically demanding sport, surfing favors natural athletes. People who are fit, strong, balanced, and coordinated typically progress faster by efficiently mastering techniques and handling punishment better. Those lacking innate athletic gifts often initially struggle more.

2. Opportunity for Time in Water

Practice makes perfect. The total hours spent surfing directly influences skill-building speed through repetition developing muscle memory and comfort. Landlocked surfers or those with limited chance to practice inevitably take longer to hone abilities than those consistently immersed.

3. Quality of Instruction

Proper surf coaching dramatically accelerates learning and prevents ingraining bad habits requiring correction later. But decades of sports evolution have refined best-practice techniques. So modern instruction tends to yield better results in less time compared to self-teaching.

4. Equipment & Conditions

Huge, rockered, soft-top boards provide tons of stability for beginners making popping up and balancing easier. Smaller, narrower, more performance-oriented boards require far greater precision and feel creating a larger learning curve. Ideal smaller, clean waves also aid initial progression versus large, gnarly conditions.

5. Fearfulness & Risk Appetite

Cautious personalities shy from big wipeouts and challenges stunting advancement. Braver athletes unafraid to fall and push personal limits in daunting surf tend to adapt quicker by amassing experience rapidly even if battered. But overextending brings injury risks too.

6. Age & Fitness Level

Youth grants flexibility and fast strength/stamina improvements from beginner paddling fatigue. Weak swimmers or older surfers sometimes stagnate from physical limitations unable to reach the required fitness thresholds for accessing better surf to accelerate skill progression. Kids advance fastest by kayaking into solid waves early.

So many variables affect surfing’s learning curve across individuals. But general timelines still emerge.

Sailing the Waves of Progress: Unveiling the Journey to Surfing Mastery

The age-old question, “How long will it take me to get good?”. So, what exactly do you mean by getting good? “Well, you know, to be able to do tricks”. Okay, and what do you mean by a trick in surfing? “I don’t know, like a snap or 360 or an aerial”. Well, let’s just take a few steps back here, you may never be able to do an aerial, many surfers who have been surfing for years don’t do aerials, and a lot don’t necessarily want to.

Surfing is a different sport, it doesn’t have the incessant focus on tricks like some other sports. You can definitely set goals in surfing, definitely, but you also need to discover what type of surfing you like; do you want to do a snap, hang-five, get a barrel, or simply go straight on the biggest wave you can find? These are all viable options, and it is different strokes for different folks when it comes to surfing! So, how good will you get? This depends on so many different factors, but I thought I’d just give you two examples here of people who arrived on a Ticket to Ride trip having never surfed before way back in September 2014.

Sasha and Julius, during their first week: Learn to surf in Muizenberg, Cape Town!

Sasha stands up for the first time

Julius on his first-ever wave

From there, they traveled up the coast of South Africa for 10 weeks surfing various types of waves and exploring the coastline, getting consistent coaching to keep pushing their surfing. When up in Durban, they were confidently and consistently riding waves left and right, before heading up for three weeks of tropical paradise in Mozambique to work on their turns.

Sasha and Julius 10 weeks into the trip, enjoying the warm water in Durban and Mozambique.

After Mozambique in mid-December, they went their separate ways. Julius headed back down to Muizenberg to surf and teach ‘learn to surf’ beginner lessons, while Sasha headed over to do a ski season as a chalet host. Fast forward to 1 May 2015, and they both arrived in Indonesia keen to push their surfing again to new heights. Julius did the full 4-week trip with Ticket to Ride, while Sasha had time constraints and could only do two weeks, which she then extended to almost four weeks, as long as she could!

In Indo, they both kept pushing their surfing, and with the coaching and perfect waves, their surfing went up and up in a short space of time. Sometimes photos speak louder than words.

Four months after the trip to South Africa where they learned to surf properly. This is the surfing in Indonesia!

In total that leaves us with 9 months of surfing for these two, and there are many other similar cases even from this very trip! So, will you be doing airs in a few months? No, but if you are coached in the right way and dedicate a bit of time to it you can become a pretty competent surfer! Is this better or worse than you imagined for 9 months of surfing?”

The Time It Takes to Learn Surfing

Exactly how many hours, sessions, or years becomes almost irrelevant compared to skill markers. Still, certain numbers paint a picture:

Beginner Surfing Skills

Expect a few weeks for basics:

  • Beach paddling & duck diving through shore break: 1-4 weeks
  • Consistently catching whitewash without assistance: 2-6 weeks
  • Standing up briefly on foam boards: 1-4 weeks
  • Controlling board angle slightly by leaning: 1-2 months

So trundling to your feet and riding straight whitewash can happen within around 50 hours of practice usually.

Intermediate Surfing Skills

Stepping above the pure beginner stage takes dedication:

  • Catch unbroken green waves: 3-12+ months
  • Generate speed by trimming across wave face: 6-18+ months
  • Smooth popup to quality standing stance: 6-18+ months
  • Top/bottom turns: 9-24+ months
  • Deal with most moderate surf conditions: 1-3+ years

Expect to spend around 100 hours riding waves just transitioning from kneeling/sitting to quality popping up. Then add another 100 hours refining weight distribution. So reaching a well-rounded intermediate skill level typically demands 200+ hours over 1-3 years depending on factors mentioned earlier.

SkillTimeframe Estimate
Catch unbroken green waves3-12+ months
Smooth standing popup6-18+ months
Trim for speed on wave face6-18+ months
Top/Bottom turns9-24+ months
Deal with most surf conditions1-3+ years

Advanced Surfing

Joining the advanced surfer club able to shred most waves requires another leap:

  • Speed generation through maneuver combination: 2-5+ years
  • Aerial maneuvers: 2-10+ years
  • Barrel riding: 5-10+ years
  • Dominating most size waves/conditions: 5-10+ years+

The jump from intermediate to advanced challenges every surfer since it demands mastering speed while performing advanced maneuvers in critical surf zones. Achieving top-tier talent typically requires at least 500 hours of riding over the years. The natural talent and wave quality alter the timeline considerably though.

In general, the journey looks something like:

Beginner: 0 – 6 months
Catch whitewash, stand briefly

Intermediate: 6 months – 2 years Trim down the line, make sections

Advanced: 2+ years – Decades Shred better waves, punt airs, tube ride

But surf progression contains infinite nuance – some pick up advanced skills quickly while others take decades to refine fundamentals.


Unfortunately, no universal formula exists for exactly how many weeks, months, or years it takes to learn surfing. Some athletic phenoms figure things out in less than 50 hours. Meanwhile, plenty of others still struggle to stand and paddle after 100 sessions.

But following quality instruction while consistently accessing suitably challenging waves for your ability does typically allow healthy adults to develop fundamental intermediate surfing competence within their first 50-200 hours of riding waves.

Then advancing towards advanced maneuvers in critical, high-performance surf zones often requires another few years and 200+ hours of refining technique. An acceptable timeline for most recreational surfers looks something like this:

  • Catch whitewash & stand: 1-6 months
  • Efficiently catch unbroken waves: 6 months – 2 years
  • More advanced moves/surf: 2+ years – decades

Remaining patient, tempering expectations, and maintaining realistic progression goals reduce frustration. Surfing offers a lifetime journey of humbling yet gratifying self-improvement. But simply standing up those first few times while soaring along sparkling azure walls as salt spray pelts your face often provides the purest thrills.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What’s the easiest way to stand up on a surfboard?

For beginners, gently sliding up to your feet from kneeling as the wave carries you delivers the most reliable, controlled standing popups. Avoid explosive jumping motions before mastering. Using bigger boards also grants more real estate. Focusing eyes down the line steadies balance too.

How long does it take the average person to learn to surf?

While variables exist, most healthy adults appealing some natural coordination can paddle prone, catch whitewash, and pop up briefly after around 20-40 hours of practice over 1-6 months. Advancing towards controlled green wave riding usually happens between 50-200 hours over 6 months to 2 years depending on fitness, bravery, and wave opportunity.

How do you know if you are intermediate surfer?

You’ve likely reached an intermediate skill level once able to control popping up smoothly, generate speed by trimming down the line, and perform basic turns all while dealing with most moderate surf conditions without assistance. This generally occurs after around 100-200 hours of practice over 1-3 years.

What are the 5 key steps to surfing?

  1. Paddle out past wave break zone
  2. Identify the incoming set wave
  3. Turn the board towards the beach
  4. Start paddling to match wave speed
  5. Popup to feet by planting hands then standing tall

Why is surfing so hard to learn?

Surfing challenges balance, strength, and coordination all while confronting a dynamic medium delivering shifting swells, currents, and wave shapes. Mastering paddle fitness, wave judgment, popup timing, and board control across these variables through quality repetition marks a difficult but gratifying journey.

What’s the hardest surfing trick?

For most surfers, smoothly rotating into the barrel across the wave face and then surviving the closeout tube section remains surfing’s premier maneuver. Barrel riding demands advanced paddle strength, positional wave judgment, quick reflexes, tube riding stance, and breath control to accomplish.

How long does it take to get comfortable surfing?

Building fundamental surf skills like popping up and riding straight gradually builds comfort. But managing wipeouts in larger surf continues to intimidate newcomers. So most surfers feel truly comfortable paddling out alone in head-high waves after around 1-3 years of developing adequate fitness, wave knowledge, and experience.

Why should older adults try surfing?

Surfing trains core strength, balance, endurance, and motor coordination – helping older surfers maintain vitality. The social community also fights isolation and depression. Settling for gentler whitewater sessions grants safer progression too. Surfing keeps the stoke alive through golden years!

What tips do you have for sticking with surfing when learning?

Expect falling and awkwardness while offering self-patience during the lengthy surfing learning curve. Seeking coaching expedites quality technique too. But persisting through frustration and fear barriers opens the door to one of life’s most blissful experiences. The joy arrives once skills allow flowing with waves.

How long does it take to learn how to surf?

The timeline varies, but with consistent practice, beginners can expect to ride waves after a few weeks or months.

How long does it take to learn to surf well?

Achieving proficiency in surfing may take several months to a year, depending on factors like fitness, prior experience, and commitment.

How long does it take to learn how to surf properly?

Mastering the art of surfing properly involves understanding the ocean and refining techniques, typically taking several months to a year.

How long does it take to learn how to SUP surf?

Learning to SUP surf has a learning curve similar to regular surfing, with factors like fitness and prior experience influencing the timeline.

Can I learn to surf in 2 weeks?

While it’s challenging, with intensive lessons and dedication, some individuals make significant progress in a couple of weeks.

Is it hard to learn to surf?

Surfing has a learning curve, and while it can be challenging, proper guidance, practice, and enthusiasm can make the process enjoyable.

Is 30 too late to start surfing?

It’s never too late! Many people start surfing in their 30s and beyond, enjoying the sport and its benefits.

Can surfing be self-taught?

While self-teaching is possible, professional instruction significantly accelerates the learning process and ensures safety.

Is 35 too old to learn how to surf?

No, age is not a barrier. People in their mid-30s and beyond often successfully learn and enjoy surfing.

Can you learn to surf in 3 days?

While mastering surfing takes time, a three-day surf camp or intensive lessons can provide a solid foundation for beginners.

Can you learn surfing after 40?

Absolutely! Many individuals start surfing in their 40s, embracing the sport and its physical and mental benefits.

How many years does it take to learn surfing?

The learning process continues, but significant progress can be made within the first year with consistent practice and dedication.

How fast can you learn to surf?

Learning speed varies, but with regular lessons and practice, many beginners experience noticeable progress within weeks.

Remember, each surfing journey is unique, and the joy of riding waves is attainable with patience, commitment, and a love for the ocean.

Thank you for reading this page please continue surfingers

Leave a Comment