Surfing is about as Californian as you can get. For most beachgoers, watching the pros catch waves is a favorite pastime—they make it look so effortlessly fun, who could resist wanting to join in? But when it comes to actually getting on a board yourself, it can be intimidating.
But really all a barney (that's lingo for new surfer) needs to get up and running is a lesson or two to understand the basics—how to paddle, how to pop up on the board, and how to lean into the ride.
Luckily, there are plenty of surf schools to help. This summer, if you want to finally check surfing off your bucket list, sign up for a class at one of these five spots down the coast. You'll be hanging ten in no time.
Adventure Out, Pacifica and Santa Cruz
Richard Schmidt Surf School, Santa Cruz
Just an hour-and-a-half south of the Bay, the Richard Schmidt Surf School runs lessons year-round at ideal beginner surf spots along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, stretching from Santa Cruz south to Big Sur. The school has been around since 1978 and instructors are world-class surfers with a ton of experience, so you'll be in good hands. Two-hour lessons cover all the basics, from safety to technique and tips and tricks. // richardschmidt.com
Sea, Surf & Fun, Half Moon Bay
Launched in 2011, Sea, Surf & Fun teaches classes in Half Moon Bay, only half an hour south of the city, at a calm but thrilling spot close to the famous surfing point Maverick's. Here, you'll get the chance to learn the ropes and even perhaps meet a seal or dolphin. Choose from 90-minute group lessons, semi private (2-3 students), or private lessons. In addition to the standard courses, the company also offers week-long surf camps for kids 7+. // seasurffun.com
Mary Osborne Surf, Ventura
For a chance to learn from a famous pro, head to Ventura—located on the coast just northwest of Los Angeles—to take a lesson with Mary Osborne, an icon in the surf industry who spent 10 years in competition. In addition to the sport, she's become an ambassador for both environmental causes and female empowerment, traveling to remote places around the world. You can choose to take a 90-minute one-on-one lesson, a 90-minute group class (resuming in April 2022 on Saturday mornings) or an overnight surf getaway at the beachfront Crowne Plaza, inland at Ojai Valley Inn, or at a rented beautiful private home. // maryosbornesurf.com
Surf House Adventures, Encinitas
In North San Diego County, Encinitas is the ultimate surf town—and Surf House Adventures is the ideal place to soak in the SoCal vibes and conquer the waves for the first time. Surf House Adventures is a boutique hotel on Highway 101 that also offers a surf camp and complimentary access to surfboards to totally immerse you in the surf life experience. Choose from a variety of options including one-off lessons, guided morning surfing and three-day all-inclusive packages. After you get your thrills, head back to relax in your surf-inspired room or the outdoor cabana. // surfhouseadventures.com