Before coming to Australia, I imagined it as a country of bleach-blonde surfer dudes and dudettes all “hanging ten” on warm, sunny beaches year-round. (I’m writing this from a cold and rainy Melbourne… so I’ve had my introduction to reality, thank-you-very-much.) Nonetheless, I thought surf lessons in Sydney would be a good idea– just in case I did happen to stumble upon those cute surfer dudes I’d heard so much about. At the very least, I’d come away with a new skill and could tick “learn to surf in Sydney” off my bucket list!
A couple of my best friends from Texas met me in Sydney for a whirlwind one week in Australia and we signed up for Bondi Beach surf lessons. None of us had ever attempted surfing before, so we were a mixture of excitement and nerves as we met our instructor at the Let’s Go Surfing Bondi Beach shop. This beach is one of the most famous in the world. And there’s no better place to learn to surf!
Let’s Go Surfing Bondi Beach: A day of surf lessons in Sydney
Our minds were put to rest when the friendly staff greeted us and helped us get outfitted in our surfing gear for our two-hour lesson. It’s an all-inclusive experience, so as long as you have a swimsuit and towel, Let’s Go Surfing will provide the rest. They’ll get you kitted up with a wetsuit, sunscreen, and zinc before leading the way to the beach!
The surf school has a locker on the beach for surfboards… so there’s no unnecessary long-distance surfboard carrying, ensuring that all your energy is focused on what you’re here for. Once we’d each received a surfboard (giant-sized to maximize the possibility of staying on it), we were separated into groups and met our instructors.
Goofy or normal?
We learned terminology and safety first— finding out whether we are goofy and learning to identify the rip current. If you’re not yet fluent in surfer lingo, goofy-footed refers to a surfer who surfs with their right foot forward. If you surf with your left foot forward, you’re natural-footed.
Next lesson: rip currents. Rip currents are a strong current of water flowing away from the surf. It’s important to know how to identify them– they can be quite dangerous, sweeping even strong swimmers out to sea. We practiced our techniques for paddling and standing up on surfboards on the sand and once we gained a little confidence, we headed for the waves.
Catch some waves!
Nigel, our instructor, has been surfing for most of his life and even pointed out the home he grew up in— right near Bondi Beach. Great for surfing… not so much for attending school, as he recounted many “sick days” spent on a surfboard. His passion for the sport and experiences with trial and error learning when he was younger makes him a great teacher. With no more than five students per lesson, instructors are able to treat each student as an individual. I loved that Nigel offered personalized tips and tricks. With his help, I stood up on my first try. And with his encouragement and personalized suggestions, each time I caught a wave, I gained confidence.
The two-hour lesson flew by as we paddled, caught waves, and posed for the Let’s Go Surfing photographer. Before we knew it, it was time to hand back our surfboards and collect our belongings from the shop. We also had the opportunity to purchase photos… and of course, we did! Everyone should have proof of their newfound surfer dude (or dudette) status for social media purposes!
You get what you pay for
A lesson with Let’s Go Surfing is 100% worth every penny. I took two other surf lessons as I traveled up the east coast– they were priced low, catering to the backpacking crowd. Those cheaper lessons would have turned me off to the sport if Let’s Go Surfing hadn’t instilled confidence and a love for the sport in me. One of those “bargain” lessons was spent getting beat up by the ocean. That’s after spending a good portion of that lesson moving to a different location to get away from “big fish” (sharks). The other was spent getting fed into a surf school machine with dozens of other aspiring surfers. (Efficient, but not too friendly). It really is true that you get what you pay for.
Let’s Go Surfing’s mission is to change lives one wave at a time, and they’re succeeding! The waves that day were small, but my friends and I left feeling as though we’d accomplished something huge. We ended our lesson with arms sore from paddling and all-over exhaustion from a full-body workout. We faced fears of sharks, open water, and failure and came out with smiles. This lesson left us feeling empowered and made us excited for the next time we’d get to practice our newfound surfing skills.
Perhaps next time, you should take a day trip from Sydney to Manly, said to be the home of Australian surfing!
Want to know what I’ve done with my surfing skills since that first lesson? Surfing took me all the way to Africa! Check out my Moroccan surf camp adventure here.
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