Learn to Surf
Why would I want to get off my sunlounger to go surfing?
Surfing is riding a wave of popularity at the moment – summer’s surfy chick flick Blue Crush and Cameron Diaz’s surf sequence in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle inspired score of women to take to the waves this year.
According to the British Surfing Association (BSA), the number of female surfers has increased threefold in the past decade! It’s fun, friendly and fashionable – not to mention a fantastic strength and aerobic workout.
So when’s the best time to go?
In November, Devon-based surf school Surf South West (SSW) closes up its beachside shack in Croyde Bay and heads off to the island of Lanzarote where the sea is still balmy, the sun is shining and the waves perfect.
But don’t you need to be super-fit?
If you’re a surf virgin, you’ll find it tiring for the first couple of days but you don’t need to be super-fit – you just need to be able to swim 50m (good balance and co-ordination help, too). And did we mention patience?
How long will it take me to learn?
After six mornings’ instruction, you should be able to paddle out, catch a wave and stand up – and know a little about which waves to go for. All SSW’s instructors as BSA-qualified coaches and show as much elation when you first get up on a wave as you feel yourself. ‘The first time you manage to stand up is so exciting – after you’ve done it once, you know you can do it again,’ says Ben Green, who moved to Devon from London to become a surfing instructor. Like all SSW’s team, he manages to sandwich every bit of heavily disguised criticism between two doorsteps of praise, so no matter how slow your progress, you never feel intimidated or discouraged.
What if everyone’s better than me?
Many of those who book a trip with SSW have dipped their toes in the sport before, but want to improve – while others have never set food on a surfboard or zipped themselves into a wetsuit. The great thing about learning to surf in a group is the camaraderie – daily progress never goes unnoticed by a fellow learner.
Where will I be staying?
In Lanzarote, the resort is Playa de Famara, a traditional island village skirted by a three-mile sweep of white sand and rolling waves. Nestled below mountains on the north coast, Famara’s location and climate creates reliable, consistent waves that make the resort a mecca for surfers. The sandy beach makes for a safe landing if (no, make that when) you fall off, and there’s plenty of space for everyone. Lots of SSW’s clients go it alone, and are then teamed up with another solo traveler in a two-bedroom apartment. The self-catering apartments are spread throughout the village, but all are modern and comfortable.
And when I’m not surfing?
There’s the après-surf to enjoy! When you’re done catching waves, you can spend the afternoon catching rays instead, or sit on the harbour wall and watch the pros tackle the infamous Famara point break. In the evenings, the surfing groups create their own entertainment, making excursions to restaurants in other villages, which often wind up back in the local bar. Famara isn’t the sort of place you’ll find discos and English bars – seafood is abundant and delicious, though, and beer is cheap. A great way to start the day is with a café con leche and a pan con chocolate at one of the alfresco cafes on Famara’s main street. This is one holiday where such indulgences won’t result in an expanding waistline.