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7 Ways To Dramatically Improve Your First Surf

Local Showing us how to surf a wave during sunset.jpeg

7 Ways To Dramatically Improve Your First Surf

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

After my friend took me surfing the other week, I was determined to learn more about the great sport. The spot I went surfing at was Bolinas Beach, a common surf site for beginners located in Bolinas, Ca.

I thought it would be fitting to interview Drew, the owner of 2 Mile Surf Shop located down the street from Bolinas Beach. He has provided me with expert information that I am excited to share with you! This article has all the information a beginner needs to get started surfing — from gear to safety to techniques.

How To Surf

Drew from 2 Mile Surf Shop, catching a wave in Santa Cruz

Quick Fire Questions:

What is your favorite piece of gear that you won’t surf without?

My Matuse Tumo 4/3mm wetsuit.  So light, warm and comfy.  It is my go-to suit more often than not.

When did you start surfing?

Age 17 in Santa Cruz while attending UCSC – 30 years ago!

Why do you enjoy surfing so much?

The peaceful, serene and free feeling you get in the ocean.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Anyone who follows their dreams and lives life to the fullest.  As for surfers, Tom Curren has always been my favorite.

7 Ways To Dramatically Improve Your First Surf:

1) What should a beginner look for when buying a new or used surfboard?how to surf

Find a board that suits your needs and will work best at the surf break you will be using it at the most.  Long, foam boards are best for beginners and learning but don’t surf that great once you get about 6-9 months of experience.

Hard boards (foam or epoxy) will take your surfing to higher levels and are built specifically to surf better and more high performance. They are not as easy to use as foam boards but will take your surfing to the next level.

There is always a balance to be found between the waves, your experience and your needs.  Any reputable shop will answer all your questions and should have a decent selection to choose from for all budgets.  Check any board out like you would a used car – looking for bumps and bruises as well as repairs.  Kick the tires so to speak and ask questions.  Buying a used board is the way to go for beginners.

Adventure Hacks Recommendations:

Walden Magic Model Surfboard — 9’6″ longboard

Superfish Red Rail Surfboard — 6′ board

2) What to look for when buying a wetsuit or other gear?


Wetsuits are all about fit and comfort.  The minimum thickness you need for Northern CA waters is 4/3mm which is 4mm in the torso and 3mm in the arms and legs.  Materials and technology will dictate the price and we have suits from $175 up to $575.

Depending on how often you surf and if you take care of your suit you should get 2-3 years of life out of it.  I recommend buying the best suit you can afford in order to be warm, comfortable and stay in the water longer getting more surf experience.

Adventure Hacks Recommendations:

For women, we recommend the O’Neill Epic 4/3mm Wetsuit or the Roxy Syncro 5/4/3mm Back Zip Fullsuit Wetsuit

For men, we recommend the O’Niell Epic 4/3mm Wetsuit , O’Niell Epic 5/4 mm Wetsuit, or the NRS Radiant 3/2mm Neoprene Wetsuit

3) What are the basic safety rules of surfing that every beginner should learn?

Safety and etiquette go hand in hand while surfing.  See 10 Rules of Surfing Etiquette for some good general rules.

4) What should beginners practice before getting in the water?

Being as decent swimmer and calm in the ocean will go a long way in making your surfing experience positive.  Having decent cardio and general fitness will help you progress quicker while learning to surf.

5) What should you practice once you get in the water?

Ride the broken whitewater waves and try to pop up directly to your feet (avoiding your knees).  Once you are comfortable and confident you can venture further out to the unbroken waves and try to catch them. 

6) Tips for popping up, and catching waves?

Practice pop ups at home on the floor.  Once you get back to the beach you may have done hundreds!  It will become muscle memory in the water.  Also, stay low with some bend in your knees when you first get up so that you are stable and balanced.

7) Anything else you can think of that I missed?

Have FUN!

Connect with Drew and the crew from 2 Mile Surf Shop here for gear, lessons, and surf information! 

Our mission is to inspire adventure on the ground, in the water and through the air. If we also happen to inspire you to purchase gear, our team will plant a tree in its native environment for every single order.

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