Learning to Surf in Waikiki

30 July 2014


At the time of hitting publish on this post I will have been living in Hawaii for 8 months. I am ashamed to say that it was only 2 weeks ago that I finally went surfing.

I never meant to put it off this long. My roommate is a surfer, I live in the place where surfing was invented, and even my favorite magazine, Foam, is a surfing magazine. By all means I should have been hitting the waves long ago. Sadly, life and being an adult sometimes gets in the way of what we really want to be doing.

When my boyfriend came to visit, however, I found it harder to make excuses for why I wasn't in the ocean more. It was on his Hawaii bucket list and mine as well. It was time to cross it off.

Learning the basics with my instructor, Maui
I have a couple friends who surf but I didn't want to bog them down with two newbies so I decided to go to a surf school instead. There are several to pick from in the Waikiki region alone so I decided to go with the one with the best yelp deal: Big Wave Dace Surf Co.

The lesson was quick and to the point. "Here's the front, there's the back. Cup your hand and paddle like this to go left, do the opposite to go right. Do a push up when you want to go over a wave. Pop like this when you want to catch it." my instructor, Maui, explained.

I appreciated the direct manner of the lesson because, well, I'm 23 and don't need to be talked to like a child. Plus, I had 8+ years of snowboarding experience. It can't be too different right?

After 20 minutes on the ground doing basic lessons and working on some muscle memory we grabbed the boards and dragged them into the ocean.

My first thought as I began paddling out to the waves was "Damn, this is nothing like snowboarding!" My shoulders were killing me and I wanted nothing more than a ski lift that would simply transport me to the waves. Seriously, why has no one though of this yet? Not even a tow rope or something? My little arms were so exhausted by the time I finally reached the break.

So there I was, tired as hell already, when my instructor shouted "Turn around and catch this one!"

I mustered my energy to swivel my huge board around just in time to catch the waves momentum.

"Fuck, this is nothing like snowboarding!"

I went down quickly.

I think what surprised me was feeling the world moving below me. When you snowboard, you are in control. But with surfing, I was at the will of the ocean and I could feel it's energy swirling underneath me and dragging me forward. I freaked out and bailed off my board.

I popped up quickly, though, and paddled back out for more.

Catching my first wave
The ocean, maybe in an attempt to test us newbies, began bashing us with waves larger than when we originally went out. I held on to my board and took the waves head on, not realizing that the current was pulling me farther away from my instructor.

Eventually I had enough and turned my board back towards the beach. A wave came and grabbed hold of my board (without my permission!) and started hurtling me towards shore.

"Damn, this wave is too big but I'm already on it. Might as well stand up!"

So I did just that and started riding the wave that was way out of my league but somehow not dumping me. This time I embraced the energy of the ocean and just followed it.


When I finally regrouped my instructor look at me in surprise.

"Nice wave you caught there!"

"Thanks!" I said but I wasn't really listening to him. I was too busy paddling out to catch the next one.

Mahalo nui loa to Big Wave Dave's Surf Co for an awesome afternoon!

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