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MAIN Arrow to Recreation Recreation Arrow to BeachesBeaches Arrow to Surfing Surfing Arrow to Surfboard LingoMy First Surfing Lesson

Chiff Tween Reporter, Valerie Diaz, traveled to Hawaii with the Chiff Travel Editors this summer as part of a special report on Honolulu for Kids. This is her first-person account on one of the city's most popular activities for tweens and teens in Honolulu — learning how to ride the waves at Waikiki!

Valerie has also reported on How to Train Your Dolphin - Swimming with Dolphins in Hawaii!

I went surfing for the first time ever this summer in Waikiki, Honolulu!

I do gymnastics, so maybe that's why surfing was a piece of cake. If you do any other sports that require good balance, you should be able to pick up the art of surfing pretty quickly.

Getting started

learning how to stand up on a surfboard

first time surfing in Waikiki!
my first surf lesson - how
to stand up on a surfboard.
Bottom: I'm up and surfing!


The first step to surfing is a choosing a good surfboard. There are many types of boards, but if you're a beginner I would suggest investing in an eleven foot longboard. It's easy to keep your balance on, and easy to catch waves on. Its surface is softer and easier to grip.

I would also recommend a long sleeve rash guard so you don't get a rash on your arms from paddling. Going into the water you want to be mindful of the reef that could be under the water. If possible, paddle around and choose a spot in the ocean where there is no reef. That will save you from lots of cuts and bruises.

Also, if this is your first time surfing, I would stay closer to the shore where the smaller waves are, just to get comfortable before you take on the larger waves.

How to surf safe

Surfing safety is key. Just remember the surfer riding the wave has the right of way. Other surfers paddling or even sitting on their board should pay attention to other people so everyone can stay safe. If someone is coming toward you and isn't turning away, get off your board and do your best to get as far away from them as you can. Surfing can be very dangerous.

I went to Hans Hedemann Surf School in Waikiki  for surfing lessons and they were definitely worth it. They paid off, and I had the time of my life. The instructors were all professional surfers themselves, so they know what they're doing. They gave me a board, rash guard, and water shoes to use while I was out in the water. Lucky for me, I'm 13 and I was required to participate in private lessons for safety reasons.

I trained with one of the best surfers, Josh Reese. He was very patient with me and had a ton of good tips. Josh taught me all the positions of standing up, getting back down on my board, how to turn and how to read the waves. He made learning to surf extremely fun, safe, and had me wanting to come back for more! Once I was riding that wave I felt like I was on top of the world.

Stay strong and keep at it

I got tired after 3 hours of intense surfing, but it was an experience I will never forget. I wiped out a few times and have reef scars to remind me, but with Josh's help I was able to correct my mistakes and move on. Keeping a good attitude wasn't hard. Josh always said encouraging things like "forget the bad waves and remember the good ones." When I'm doing something I love it's easy to get back up and go again. Josh kept me up to date on all the surfing terms and surfing safety tips. He pushed me into waves and had faith in me. It was easy to form trust with him.

One of the cool things about surfing in Hawaii is that I wasn't in the water with only people. I saw sea turtles, fish, and more. It was crazy! If I could, I would jump back on my board and tackle those waves. Surfing changed from something I was scared of doing to something I love. You should try surfing, because I know you'll love it just as much as I do.

More about learning how to surf for beginners around the Web:

How to Surf
- Lots of expert advice on how to begin surfing, including how to get out through the waves, how to stand up, safety guides, and other helpful tips for beginners.

Beginners Surfing Tips - A ton of good instruction from the Surfing Handbook in 12 chapters!


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