You should plan to get a surfing lesson early during your Hawaii vacation. There’s no reason to be intimidated, even though your instructor may be a big, tough-looking local guy. The beach boys in Hawaii love giving lessons, and you’re going to love your experience.
Here’s an idea of what you can expect:
Before you even go into the water, you will learn the basics on the beach. You’ll learn whether you’re natural-footed (left foot forward) or goofy-footed (right foot forward). Your instructor will show you how to prepare to pop up. Once you have caught a wave, you will have to transition from lying on your belly to the upright position.
With your board on the sand, you’ll lie down stomach-first. Make sure that your feet are touching the end of the board and that the nose of the board is level with the sand. If the nose of the board is pointing into the sky, move closer to the nose. If the nose is pointing toward the sand, move your body toward the back. Once you have centered yourself on the board and are perfectly balanced, it’s time to find where to place your hands. Place them on the edge of the board (also known as the rails) adjacent to your shoulders and cock your elbows back like you’re about to do a pushup.
Now it’s time to pop up. With your toes at the end of the board and your palms facing down on the rails, do a pushup. When you reach the apex of your pushup, swing your feet underneath you and plant your lead foot on the center of the board so that you’re in a crouched position. (You’ll keep repeating this until the movement feels natural to you.)
Okay, now that you know how to stand up on your surfboard, you will need to know how to correctly paddle through the oncoming waves and how to paddle with a wave before you pop-up. It’s time to get in the water. (Keep in mind that you’ll spend the majority of your time in the water paddling and trying to catch a wave.)
Before you actually try to catch a wave, your instructor probably will have you catch some whitewater just to get an idea of how your board reacts to the power of the water. You’ll begin by paddling. Once you’re in the water, climb onto your board and get into the same position that you were in when popping up on the sand. Use the crawl swimming stroke. Make sure that your body is balanced on the board and continue to paddle away from the shore. If you’re having trouble balancing while paddling, try spreading your legs a little bit.
Keep the nose of the board an inch or two above the water. Once you have the feel for paddling, you’ll try paddling directly into an oncoming wave. This might sound a little scary, but the faster and harder you paddle through a wave, the better your chances are of getting through it.
When trying to get through the smaller whitewater waves, use the pushup method. As the wave approaches, slightly push up onto your knees and toes. Once you’re halfway through the wave, assume the paddling position and continue on.
If you approach a wave that’s about to break, you will have to go through it. As you approach the apex of the wave, hold on to the rails and lower your chest and head to the board. Brace yourself and punch right through it.
Now that you’ve paddled through the breaking waves, you’re ready to actually catch your first wave.
You can sit on your board while you look for the sets (series of waves). As soon as you see a set that looks good, you will want to turn around so that you and the board both face the shore. When you see a swell approaching, get into paddling position. Once you feel the swell underneath you, start paddling and get ready to pop up.
When you feel the wave take hold of the board, use the popup technique and sweep your feet up and onto the board. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to get up on your first try. If you’re not, shake it off and paddle back out there. Surfing will take time and patience, so stick with it.
Remember, the foregoing is an indication of what to expect DURING A LESSON. You will have an expert at your side every step of the way. For heaven’s sake, don’t try to follow these words and go it on your own to save a couple of bucks. Do it right!
If you don’t locate a surfing instructor upon your arrival at your hotel, ask the concierge… or give us a call at Hawaii-Aloha Travel: 1-800-843-8771.