Surfing is a sport wherein an individual utilizes a board to ride a breaking wave that carries the surfer toward the shore.
In Ancient Hawaii, locals did not consider surfing as a recreational activity, an extreme sport, a hobby, or a career the same way it is viewed today. Rather, Hawaiians have integrated surfing into their culture and made it more of an art than anything else. The art of he’e nalu, translated as “wave sliding,” began even before they entered the mysterious ocean as Hawaiians prayed to the Gods for strength and protection to take on the powerful mystifying ocean. The most experienced and skillful surfers were often the chiefs and warriors who had gained people’s respect through their enduring ability to master the art of surfing.
Exposure to the Western world eventually suppressed the traditional culture of Hawaii, and it was not until Waikiki became a tourist destination that surfing made a huge comeback. As the news about this activity began to spread, locals in Waikiki began giving surfing lessons and demonstrations to tourists.
Surfing is one of the best sports because it builds up your physical and mental well-being and increases your ability to absorb oxygen without having to exert too much effort. It is also a great overall exercise that works out your core muscles and upper body muscles while allowing you to enjoy the ocean.
Surfing is said to be the most difficult and complex sport in the world. It is not hard to learn, but if you are looking to develop more skills to catch waves from the peak and ride their unbroken faces down the line, it can be very challenging. If you are determined to learn how to surf, here are 10 things you need to know before you start your surfing lessons.
Why is surfing so addictive?
Surfing is addictive because of the adrenaline, endorphins, and serotonin we get from surfing, combined with the dopamine we receive from the fun waves, which not only makes us feel good but also leaves us wanting more. This sport also provides therapeutic benefits, especially for people with musculoskeletal conditions, as well as for bone rigidity and muscular strength.
Here are more reasons why surfing is addictive:
- Riding a wave is a breathtaking experience.
- Adrenaline pumps our heart and blood.
- The blend of sun, salt, and sand gives us a good feeling.
- The ocean has a positive impact on our health.
- It is the best way to forget about your daily problems.
- In the lineup, you’re alone but with everybody.
- Every wave gives a different feeling.
- As you progress, you get motivated to surf better every day.
- Waves can be found in every corner of the world.
- It’s a great way of living life to the fullest.
- Only a surfer knows the feeling of being in the water and being able to ride waves.
- Surfing makes us feel alive.
- Your very first wave ride is unforgettable and makes you want some more.
- The drive to explore and discover new surf spots will intensify over time.
- Surfing has become a way of self-expression and display of true character.
Surfing will provide more benefits than you may think, especially if you live by the ocean and have access to the sport. Its benefits span much further than physical aspects as this sport is also great for your mood and mind.
Being physically active and having a balanced life is the key component to one’s overall health.
10 reasons why surfing is the best sport
1. It brings happiness
When we go into the water, we forget our sorrows. It is a sport that helps us release endorphins, which is the hormone of happiness. So, if one day you are not feeling your best or are not in a good mood, a surf session might really help. Being submerged in the ocean or a vast body of water has also proven to reduce stress and improve mental health. Additionally, extended physical exercise can lead to the release of endorphins that provide a natural euphoria and good mood.
2. Surfing is a great cardiovascular exercise
It keeps our heart pumping throughout the activity, and since it involves paddling, you earn a good core and upper body workout that’s easy on the joints. Once you spot a wave to catch, you are utilizing your core for balance while your legs stay active. Water sports are generally great full-body exercises, and surfing is no exception. The low resistance and constant movement will help keep your heart pumping, and your joints will thank you.
3. Weight loss is also an awesome benefit
An average person can burn around 400 calories in an hour while surfing. The good part about this is that the time tends to go by fast and you’ll probably want to surf for another hour. Surfing is the best way to get yourself in shape while having fun.
4. It teaches you patience
Sitting down while waiting for that swell can be annoying in the beginning, but you will soon learn to love it. Waiting for waves, seeing unfavorable forecasts for days, and the feeling of power you feel while communing with the ocean will all teach you how to be patient.
The art of surfing can take years to master, which is why it promotes good work ethics and gives you a healthy challenge. Since you must focus on the water, your movements, and the wave sets, you find this time to be a release from your thoughts and the routine that’s embedded in your mind. Thus, the time spent in the ocean can improve so much more than just your physical appearance.
5. It makes you love nature even more
A few sports allow you to have a direct connection with nature, and we believe a surfer can’t live without a beach nearby. In addition, the fact that most beaches are truly picturesque locations and among some of the most beautiful places in the world makes you fall in love with nature even more.
6. It helps you overcome your fear of the ocean
There may be many reasons why you fear the ocean, but knowing how to properly and safely deal with each one of your reasons will allow you to surf without any worries. In surfing, you will encounter many wipeouts and get tossed around in the water. You may get sunburns and jellyfish stings, but it is all part of the journey. What’s important is that you know how to deal with all of these obstacles, so that the next time you get out there, it will be much more comfortable for you.
7. It is the best form of therapy
Aside from working on your muscles, surfing is also the best form of therapy for everyone, especially for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you struggle with PTSD or know anyone who does, surfing can boost up your mental well-being, build up your resilience, and allow you to experience positive emotions that are triggered by your presence in the ocean.
8. Minimal equipment is needed
The fact that surfing doesn’t require a lot of gear makes it a very attractive sport for an enthusiast to pick up. The availability of a good board and the love of the ocean are enough to push anyone to surf. Once you start understanding how the waves work, the same board will help you perform maneuvers of your choice, making your time more enjoyable and adventurous.
9. Let’s travel
Another great thing about surfing is that it is an activity that you can do in many different places around the world. So, if you’re planning to go on a vacation and the destination is near the ocean, you can probably surf there. However, surfing isn’t just a sport done in the ocean. On rare occasions, you can surf in other bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, and some places that have wave parks. No matter the time of the year, there will always be somewhere in the world where you can surf.
Anyone who is serious about surfing will be a part of an exciting and vibrant community wherein people are always open to helping each other and looking to get the most out of their time on the water. One will get a chance to interact with like-minded and down-to-earth individuals who are passionate about surfing and will help you get around the surf spots.
Dangers and Hazards
While surfing is deemed one of the best sports in the world, like any other activity, it also involves some risks. So, we’ve listed some of the dangers and hazards you should take into account.
The weather can be unpredictable—it can be bright and sunny one minute, and then turn harsh within an instant. This unpredictability can cause a sudden change in the wave conditions and current pattern, which can be the cause of a sudden increase in wind. That is why you have to use your best judgment to determine whether you should be out surfing in that kind of weather.
You should never put yourself at risk by surfing waves that you cannot handle. Big and even smaller waves can be hazardous, especially if you do not know how to deal with that kind of condition. Thus, it is best to surf at a spot with waves you are more comfortable with.
It is very important that you understand how rip currents work and how you can easily swim out of them as they can drag you down to the beach. It is also important not to panic if you get caught in a rip current.
These features include rocks, cliffs, piers, and jetties. It is best that you ask a local and experienced surfer about any boulders that may be present under the water. You should also ask them about the surfing environment to can avoid any injuries or accidents.
The presence of other surfers can also be a big hazard as crowded breaks only mean that there will be boards flying around and surfers who do not follow the rules may cause big problems. The more people in the lineup, the more dangerous the surf session. Boards flying and bodyboarders and swimmers used as speed bumps, combined with newbies, constitute a disaster waiting to happen.
Not knowing how to swim will definitely put you in danger. Even if you can use your surfboard as a flotation device, you still cannot rely on it 100% for safety. Swimming in the ocean is different from swimming in a pool as there is nothing you can grab a hold of, like railings or edges, and the currents and waves in the ocean can divert you from your direction. Therefore, you must learn basic swimming and floating before learning how to surf.
Jellyfishes, stingrays, sea urchins, and sharks are all found in the ocean. It is also important that you ask a local surfer about the marine life of a surf spot and learn how to safely share the waters with them. Sharks are a top priority on that list if you are surfing in parts of the ocean where sharks are present as they can attack with no warning. However, some other marine life is just as dangerous. Such animals include seals, sea snakes, urchins, jellyfish, and stingrays, which can all be potentially life-threatening.
Your surfboard can also be a dangerous piece of equipment as it has a pointy end and one or more blade-like fins that are ready to slice anything in their way. To avoid dangerous scenarios involving your surfboard, you should always keep control of it while surfing and try to keep out of its way when you wipeout.
This is terribly annoying while surfing because it can continuously try and wrap itself around any limb it can get a hold of. The worst part is that it can try to incapacitate you at the most inappropriate time. However, this is a common issue and the only thing you can do is make sure you have a leash with a swivel.
You will love the surfing community, but sometimes, the scariest thing about a surf location is the regular surfers. The locals can sometimes be unfriendly and outwardly aggressive or territorial. To reduce the chances of an incident with a group of locals, you should behave yourself, observe surf etiquette, and not make a general nuisance of yourself.
Surfing is a physically demanding activity and there is always a chance of you getting injured while enjoying the sport. But, don’t let this deter you from riding the waves and enjoying the ocean. Here are the 10 common injuries you can suffer while surfing and how to prevent them from happening.
You should observe the right of way on the wave
1. The surfer who is farthest out or has been waiting for the longest should have the right of way.
2. The surfer closest to the peak of the breaking wave should have the right of way.
3. The first to ride or first onto the wave should have it.
4. You should communicate and call “Left!” or “Right!” if there are two peaks in a wave.
Cutting in front of other surfers who are already riding a wave is the best way to get yourself in trouble or injured. To avoid this, you should observe the right of way.
Do Not Snake
Never, ever paddle repeatedly around a surfer just to get to the inside position on a wave.
Share the Waves
Share the waves instead of hogging them. Even if you are a fast paddler, the farthest outside, and catch a wave every time, it is not nice to do it often.
If you run over, drop in on someone, or breach any of the surfing etiquette and rules, just apologize. Remember that good manners and saying “sorry” go a long way and will smoothen things out.
Respect the Locals
Be respectful when visiting a surf spot. Keep in mind that locals surf that spot every day, so you should keep things friendly and earn some respect for yourself. It is also best not to mob surf spots in large numbers.
Learn the Right Way of Paddling Out
Never leave your board or paddle into the others’ paths. You should observe the waves to know when to paddle out accordingly with the timing of sets. You should also ask local surfers where to paddle out.
Surf Spots Based on your Ability
Pick a spot that is within your skill set because if not, you will upset other surfers by getting in the way or being a potential hazard for everyone. Always check in with local surfers if you are unsure what area to surf.
Help Other Surfers
This sport can be dangerous and fatal, so you should look after each other and aid other surfers if they get in trouble.
Respect the Beach
Never litter, vandalize, nor do and use anything that will harm the beach or environment.
Surfing is a sport that takes a lifetime to master. It is one of the most complex yet best sports in the world due to its many benefits to the mind and body. Remember that you have to know every factor that goes into the sport before trying it yourself. Have a good sense of observation, a good attitude, lots of patience, and understand the rules of surfing. Additionally, you should be able to build up your balance, strength, and coordination to surf with ease.