Surfing What Are The Best Surfer Hacks

Learn to surf: 10 steps to become a surfing pro?

Anyone who starts learning to surf can quickly be overwhelmed. As a surfing beginner in particular, there are simply too many things to think about at the same time.

But don't worry! So that you can stand the first waves as easily and quickly as possible, we have them here for you most important tips, tricks and theory for surfing compiled. This is how surfing works!


  • 10 steps how to stand every wave
  • 3 beginner surfing mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Surf etiquette and the little 1x1 of wave knowledge,
  • dangerous surfing situations and how to avoid them,
  • the right surf equipment and the best surfing areas in Europe at a glance.

Don't have time to read the whole article? Here is a summary:

Surf learning checklist

  1. Learn to surf
    10 steps to the first green water wave.
  2. Common mistakes
    3 beginner surfing mistakes and how to avoid them.
  3. Surf etiquette
    The golden rules of surfing.
  4. Dangers while surfing
    6 dangers in the ocean and how to avoid them.
  5. Surf learning checklist
    The most important tips for surfing at a glance.
  6. Surf equipment
    8 things you need to surf the web.
  7. Wave science
    The small 1x1 of waves.
  8. Known surfing areas
    These surf areas are best for learning to surf.
  9. FAQ
    Learn common questions and answers about surfing.

Learn to surf

10 tips on how to stand the first (green) wave

Anyone who has never stood on a surfboard should definitely take an introductory surf course. This guarantees quick success in learning to surf and you are safely introduced to the best sport in the world.

With these 10 tips, nothing stands in the way of your surfing success:

1 spot check: familiarize yourself with the environment.

Before you go into the water, take a look at the surf spot and what the other surfers are up to. Pay attention to the following things:

  • How and where do the waves break?
  • How big are the waves?
  • Where do the other surfers paddle out?
  • Where are other beginners and where are the pros in the line-up?
  • Are there reefs or rocks in the water that should be avoided?

Familiarize yourself with the swell, surf, and currents at the surf spot before getting in the water. If you are unsure, ask other surfers for their assessment of the spot.

2 Warm-up: Warm up sufficiently.

Warm up well before every surf session, even if warming up on the beach may seem silly to you at first. With well warmed up muscles, you are immediately more productive in the water and many injuries can be avoided.

A good warm-up program can look like this, for example.

3 Paddling out: Learn to paddle properly and use the currents in your favor.

With the right paddling technique you are not only faster and with less effort in the line-up, but also planing the first waves is much easier.

How to paddle properly:

  • Your body lies vertically and horizontally centered on the surfboard.
  • Legs and feet lie on the surfboard and do not hang down to the side.
  • Similar to the cobra in yoga, your upper body is straightened and your buttocks tense.
  • The surfboard nose looks about 5 cm out of the water.
  • You look at the water about 2 meters in front of you.
  • The fingers dip into the water at an angle of approx. 45 °.
  • Dip your arms deep under the water and pull your hands powerfully and controlled along the rails.
  • Make long, steady, and powerful paddling strokes.

What many surfers don't know:

Most of the force when paddling is exercised in the area between your head and chest. Breathe consciously and evenly so as not to hit the water too frantically.

PRO TIP: Use flow channels to make it easier to paddle into the line-up.

When waves break, large masses of water are pushed towards the beach. These flow back out into the sea via flow channels. Watch the spot to recognize such channels and to save yourself a lot of strength paddling out!

You can usually recognize places where channels form by the restless water surface. They can usually be found where no or hardly any waves break or roll out.

4 Diving waves: Learn how to dodge waves.

So that you don't get washed back onto the beach by the next avalanche while paddling out, you should know how best to avoid it.

There are 2 things to consider when evading:

  1. The faster you paddle towards a white water front, the less it will push you back.
  2. Give the wave little surface to attack by paddling towards it head-on.

The right technique for white water waves under two feet:

Small white water waves are easiest to overcome in the push-up position. To do this, press yourself up with your chest while holding the sides of the board with both hands. The white water then runs between you and the surfboard.

There are two ways to overcome white water fronts over two feet:

  • Eskimo role (also called turtle roll): Roll yourself under the board and let the wave roll over you.
  • Duck Dive: Push the surfboard under the water and dive under the wave.

In action it looks like this:

TSBW - Learn To Surf - Duck dive & Eskimo Roll

If all other immersion techniques fail:

If you are directly in the impact zone (zone in which the waves break), then sometimes you have no choice but to jump off the board and dive underwater.

This "Chicken Dive”Should only be used in an emergency, as the board moves uncontrollably in the water and can be dangerous for you and other surfers.

Good to know: Never paddle directly out behind another surfer. If you both get caught in an unfavorable wave, this could otherwise lead to unpleasant collisions.

5 Wave Selection: Learn to Read Waves Correctly.

You finally made it to the line-up, but what now? Now it's time to hit the waves! But how do you know whether it is worth paddling the wave?

Choosing the perfect wave is a science in itself and requires a lot of experience and practice. Reading waves means understanding how, where, and when waves will break before they do.

This is how you can tell whether paddling the wave is worthwhile:

  • The wave has not broken yet, not too shallow and not too steep.
  • You are near the peak. (The peak is the highest point of the wave or the point at which the wave begins to break.)
  • The wave has a noticeable peak. (Waves without a peak are threatened with “close-out”. Close-out means that the wave breaks over the entire length at the same time, which makes it impossible to drive on the left or right.)
  • There aren't already 5 other surfers paddling the wave. (The surfing etiquette must be observed.)

The best is coming now:

Do not worry too much about the wave selection at the beginning. Don't hesitate too much, you learn with every wave that you paddle on!

6 Ready for Take-Off: Get yourself in the optimal starting position.

You made up your mind, it's the next wave! Now it's time to get into the right position and glide on the wave in a controlled manner.

Look over your shoulder and straighten your board at right angles to the wave. Position yourself well on the board again and keep your legs closed. As soon as the wave is only a few meters away, start paddling calmly but vigorously.

For take-off you should pick up about the same speed as the incoming wave.

If you feel that your board is gliding on the wave - that is, being caught by the wave - do another 2-3 paddling movements. Also, go slightly into the hollow back to keep the nose of the board out of the water.

Now you are ready to get up!

7 Get up like the pros: Practice the pop-up until you have mastered it in your sleep.

You should have already practiced the sequence of movements from the pop-up sufficiently on land or in white water.

This is how the pop-up works:

SBS: How To Pop Up On A Surfboard
  1. Paddle until the board is caught in the wave. The direction of view is in the direction of travel.
  2. Place your hands flat on the board at chest level and push your chest up.
  3. Push the back knee forward slightly, about the same as the front knee.
  4. Push yourself up with your hands and back foot and bring your front foot between your hands.
  5. Get up as soon as you feel stable and comfortable on the board.
  6. Check your posture and leg position.

Common mistakes with pop-up:

  • Hands hold on to the rail instead of lying flat.
  • Look down instead of in the direction of travel.

If the surfboard is attached to the Rails held, the board tends to become unstable quickly. An unwanted wash is often the result before you have the chance to pull yourself off the surfboard.

The Look down - instead of in the direction of travel - means that the center of gravity on the board is usually shifted too far forward. As a result, the nose of the board plunges into the water and you fly off the board in a high arc. Nobody likes nosedives!

8 wipeouts: learn to let yourself fall off the surfboard properly.

It is not uncommon for you to end up in the water prematurely when you try to get up for the first time. But don't worry: wipeouts are just as much a part of surfing as paddling or diving through waves.

If you fall off the board, it is important to keep calm.

This is how you can minimize the risk of injury from wipeouts for yourself and other surfers:

  • Let you fall flat into the water, never head first!
  • Keep your arms above your head for protection until you reappeared.
  • Should you be rinsed vigorously in the “washing machine” under water, it means “stay cool”. When you relax your muscles (except those of the arms that protect your head), you usually come back to the surface very quickly.
  • You can count the seconds underwater to calm yourself down. You will see that there are usually very few.

When you are back on the surface of the water, orientate yourself briefly, collect your board and quickly leave the impact zone without hindering other surfers.

9 Cool-Down: Stretch yourself enough after every surf session.

The counterpart to warming up before the session is loosening and stretching afterwards. Take a short walk on the beach and don't forget the stretching exercises.

The advantage:

If you don't give in to your laziness here at the wrong moment, your body regenerates better and faster. So you have more from the surf vacation and at the same time less tense muscles before the next surf session.

A regenerating yoga class in the evening also protects you from excessive muscle soreness and helps you to stay flexible and supple.

10 have fun: enjoy surfing to the fullest!

Nothing is even nearly as important when surfing as positive vibes, gratitude and joy in what you do! How do they say:

"The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun"

Have fun in the water, because that's what matters in the end, right?

The 10 steps to learn to surf in a nutshell:

  1. Spot check: familiarize yourself with the area.
  2. Warm-up: Warm up enough.
  3. Paddling out: Learn to paddle properly and use the currents in your favor.
  4. Diving waves: Learn how to dodge waves.
  5. Wave selection: Learn to read waves correctly.
  6. Ready for take-off: get yourself in the optimal starting position.
  7. Get up like the pros: Practice the pop-up until you have mastered it in your sleep.
  8. Wipeouts: Learn how to really let go of the surfboard.
  9. Cool-Down: Stretch yourself enough after every surf session.
  10. Have fun: Enjoy surfing to the fullest!

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Common mistakes

3 beginner mistakes and how to avoid them

Avoid the following three beginner mistakes while learning to surf and you will have fun in the water for a long time:

1 Don't think you can learn to surf as fast as Johnny Utah in the movie Point Break. *

*(Do you already know our list of 81 surf films and books that every surfer should know?)

You had a week of surfing lessons, watched a few surf films and now dream of standing big waves and doing sleek maneuvers? Sure, who wouldn't want that ..

The plain truth is:

As a surfing beginner, you will be happy at the beginning when you catch a wave lying on your stomach. The first attempts to stand will probably not take longer than 2-3 seconds.

It often takes weeks, sometimes even months, before the first turns are sure to succeed. But don't let that put you off! With patience and perseverance, successes will come naturally over time.

Surfing requires high levels of strength, body tension, balance and timing.

And what if you are making little or no progress while surfing?

Ask surfers who have seen you surf for tips or book an advanced surf course for a few surf sessions. Often there are only a few small things that prevent you from taking your surfing skills to the next level.

By the way: Surfers like to use »Balance Boards to train and improve their balance on land.

2 Just paddle out but have no idea how.

The first surf lessons are behind you, you got up a few times in Weißwasser and now you want to dare to join the line-up with the “real” surfers?

The problem is:

If you don't know how to get through the breaking waves, it can quickly become uncomfortable. With luck and great perseverance, you might still reach the line-up at some point.

But it gets even better:

As soon as you sit in the line-up, the next waves roll in. You notice: Wow, they looked even smaller from the beach! At least now you will realize that you definitely don't want to surf these monsters. Maybe you can sit out the problem for a while, but at some point you will definitely want to go back to the beach…. but how?

First learn the basics before you dare to join the line-up.

Those who do not even know the basics or have practiced only endanger themselves and other surfers unnecessarily. Save yourself the stress, take it slow and, if in doubt, visit a surf camp or surf course.

3 Try to surf a shortboard right from the start

Although there are enough good surfboard guides out there, you can still see them very often: surf beginners who go into the water with boards that are too short and with little volume, although they can neither paddle nor surf these toothpicks.

Why are shortboards a big beginner's mistake?

  1. You have much less control over the board and can injure yourself and others more easily.
  2. It will be very hard for you to stand a wave and experience a lot more washes in the water.

In the beginning it is better to stick to softboards a little longer until the basics are in place and you feel safe in the water.

You can find out which surfboard suits you and your surfing skills in our large surfboard guide.

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Surf Etiquette:

The golden rules of surfing

The surf etiquette is the unwritten set of rules, the traffic regulations and etiquette among the surfers of this world. Anyone who starts surfing should therefore quickly familiarize themselves with these rules.

The most important "right of way" rules at a glance:


1 drop in

The person closest to the peak (i.e. the breaking part of the wave) has priority. Why? This surfer has the prospect of the longest surfable path on the wave.

No one else should paddle into this wave, pull back or - if they are already on it - leave it immediately. That, Reindroppen ‘(Drop In) is an absolute faux pas, annoying and dangerous.

Tip: When paddling the wave, always look briefly over your shoulder to see whether someone with a higher priority is also paddling the wave or is already surfing.

If you accidentally drop someone in - this can happen to anyone, especially at the beginning - then apologize immediately.

2 snake

Paddling around other surfers who have been sitting in the take-off zone for a long time just to get themselves into the right of way position is simply not cool. Point.

The exception: someone just sits around to acclimatize.

3 Exaggerated ambition & impatience

Even if you succeed in always sitting in the right position without snaking ‘: Get in line and let the others do the same.

Those who doggedly and ruthlessly take every wave will not make friends in the line-up. After all, it's not called line-up for nothing.

4 Overconfidence

Do not go surfing in conditions that you cannot cope with. If you can't make it into the line-up without losing the board, better leave it!

5 Insist on rules no matter what

There are situations in which you may clearly have right of way, but the other person does not register it. At this moment, don't insist on your right of way by the devil - especially not if driving on is risky.

Conclusion: No wave is worth injuring someone or taking the shock of their life!


1 be child

Be friendly and considerate towards other surfers and say hello to the line-up more often.

There are extra karma points if you let others have a wave ‘, although surfing etiquette might give you priority. Sharing is fun!

2 lane clear

Paddle widely around the peak or the take-off zone on the way to the line-up. So try not to be in the way when paddling out so that other surfers can ride their waves unhindered.

3 Healthy ambition

If you have the right of way, give everything to catch the wave and to stand. 'Unused' waves rolling past like to make less relaxed surfers impatient or make them take you less seriously with the next waves.

4 Communicate

If you are not sure whether other surfers have seen that you have right of way or if a surfer paddling out seems inattentive, say out loud:

A short whistle or a shout like “Hey” or “Oi” clears things up.

This also applies to A-frames, i.e. waves that break in two directions: A loud “Left” or “Right” can avoid unsightly collisions here.

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Dangers while surfing

6 dangers in the ocean & how to avoid them

Rip currents, sea creatures or unpleasant collisions: there are a few risks when surfing. It is not without reason that surfing is often counted among the extreme sports.

1 currents

Currents (side or back currents / rips) are among the greatest dangers when surfing. Learn at an early stage to recognize currents and to deal with them properly!

Even with a lot of surfing experience, you should always maintain a healthy respect for the sea. It is and will remain an unpredictable element that we are not naturally at home with.

Tip: Never paddle against the current. Instead, paddle diagonally to the current to escape.

2 collisions with your own surfboard

Collisions with your own board are common. This is usually not a problem with softboards, but hard boards with a pointed nose can hurt.

Tip: Always protect your head when wiping out and surfacing and always try to fall behind your surfboard.

3 collisions with other surfers

Fortunately, collisions with other surfers or their boards are less common than you might think.

Tip: Nevertheless, always stay focused in the water, rather draw attention to yourself once too much than once too little and stick to the surf etiquette.

4 collisions with reefs

Collisions with the ocean floor, rocks, reefs etc. can lead to nasty bruises, abrasions or broken bones.

Tip: Do not surf too close to rocks, do not surf when the water level is too shallow and always stay alert when entering and exiting over or between rocks!

5 poisonous sea creatures

Sea urchins, jellyfish, weever and other poisonous marine life live where we do our leisure time. Encounters with them can quickly become uncomfortable.

Tip: Try to walk around on rocks and reefs as little as possible. Wear surf shoes for protection and shuffling into the water at beach breaks to drive away the poisonous fish.

6 sharks, crocodiles and Co.

First things first: shark attacks are very, very rare! In fact, many more people die each year from cows or horses than from a shark attack. You read that right, cows!

Strictly speaking, we are not on the shark menu at all. There is no species of shark that particularly likes to eat people. Attacks by saltwater crocodiles are also very rare.

What can you do against crocodile and shark attacks?

It is best not to let an encounter come about in the first place. If possible, avoid known hunting areas for sharks or crocodiles.

If you should actually come across a shark, it is important to keep calm and avoid hectic movements.

If you are attacked, aim for the attacker's nose and eyes and strike as hard as you can! Surprised by so much resistance, the shark will quickly let go of you and run away.

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Learn to surf checklist

The most important tips at a glance

So that you can quickly reach your destination from the first green water wave, here is an overview of the most important steps to learn to surf:

  • Equip yourself with the necessary equipment (surfboard, wetsuit, sunscreen).
  • Choose a surf spot with waves that suit your skills.
  • Take responsibility for your safety and deal with the right of way rules for surfing (surfing etiquette).
  • Visit a surf school at the beginning and save yourself the usual beginner mistakes.
  • Give yourself time, don't take yourself too seriously, have fun and enjoy the waves!
  • Read our 10 tips for getting through your first wave.
  • Prepare your body and mind for surfing before your next surf vacation and keep yourself fit by e.g. swimming, fitness or yoga.

Why are so many people so enthusiastic about surfing?

At the latest after the first “green water wave” you have surfed, you will have completely fallen in love with surfing. This indescribable feeling will always accompany you from now on and will never want to let go. You will longingly wish for the next wave and then another and another ...

»Discover 9 reasons why you should visit a surf camp this year.

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Surf gear

8 things you need to surf the web

By now you should already have a rough idea of ​​what it takes to learn to surf. But what equipment do you actually need to surf now?

1 surfboard

Sure, what else ?! At the beginning you will get a softboard with a soft surface and a lot of volume from the surf school or surf camp. Soft tops are perfect for getting started. You slide easily in waves and have a lower risk of injury.

»How to find the right surfboard:To the surfboard guide.

2 surf suit

A wetsuit is recommended in waters below 23 ° C. It protects against cold, UV rays and skin abrasions.

»Avoid bad purchases and learn more about wetsuits:To the wetsuit guide.

3 surf shoes

If you want to surf reef spots, have to walk over sharp rocks or your feet quickly freeze, neoprene shoes (also called surf booties) are ideal.

»This is why reef and winter booties are a good thing:To the surf shoe comparison.

4 surf poncho

Surf ponchos - the most practical invention since the surfboard itself. There is hardly a surfer who does NOT use one of these practical changing aids. The ponchos make it easier to change on the beach, protect against prying eyes and keep you warm in cooler temperatures. Just practical!

Learn more? »The most popular models in 2021 in comparison.

5 leash

A small but important component is the leash! This is the connection between the surfboard and the leg. Without it, the board would shoot uncontrollably towards the beach with the first wipe-out - and you would swim home.

6 surf wax

Softboards - surfboards for beginners - usually do not need wax. But as soon as you dare to switch to a hardboard, you need it to stand firmly on the board without slipping off.

The hardness of surf wax differs depending on the water temperature:

  • less than 15 ° C ⇒ cold water surf wax
  • between 14-19 ° C ⇒ Cool water surf wax
  • between 19-23 ° C ⇒ warm water surf wax
  • greater than 23 ° C ⇒ Tropical (Tropic Water) surf wax

The surf wax is simply applied to the deck (surface of the board).

By the way: With natural waxes without paraffin / mineral oil - such as those from Greenfix - you are doing the environment, the sea and your skin a favor.

7 board bag

If you have to carry the surfboard a little further or take the board with you on trips, you need a boardbag.

In addition, a board bag protects the wax layer on the board with the appropriate coating. This is useful in a heated car, for example, or if you want to relax a little longer on the beach after the session.

8 sun protection

You should never, really never forget to protect yourself from the sun's rays! Even on cloudy days, the sun often has plenty of power.

Much more important is:

The reflection of the water increases the effect of the UV rays many times over.

So if you don't want to look like your mid-50s at the age of 30, you can use sun protection! The following applies:

Choose a sun protection factor of at least 30.

It is also advisable to protect the face (i.e. at least the “sun terraces” with forehead, nose, cheekbones and ears) with a special zinc pen. Such zinc sticks physically block the sun almost completely.

Many of the ingredients in sun creams with chemical light protection can be harmful to health, unbalance the marine ecosystem and destroy coral reefs.

If the ocean and your health are important to you, choose natural cosmetics with mineral sun protection or a variant that is designated as “reef-safe” or “ocean-safe”, such as the one here from Suntribe.

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Wave science

These types of surf waves exist

If you want to learn to surf, you should know the different types of surf spots and waves. There are these types of surf spots:

  • Beach Break: Waves that break over a sandbar or sandy surface are well suited for beginners.
  • Reef Break: Waves that break over reefs (coral reefs, rocks, lava rocks) are more suitable for advanced surfers due to the high risk of injury.
  • Point break: Waves breaking along a headland or into a bay can be beach breaks, reef breaks, or a combination of both.
  • Rivermouth Break: Waves breaking at river mouths.
  • Shore break: Waves breaking very close to the beach. Sometimes these waves rear up very high just above the sand. Caution is advised!

Types of waves and their "breaking behavior":

  • Right / Left: “Right” or “left” waves denote the direction in which the surfable wave shoulder runs.
  • A-frames: Waves that break in two directions from the peak, i.e. are both a right and a left wave.
  • Close-out: Waves that break everywhere or across wide sections at the same time and are therefore not surfable.
  • Hollow Waves: Hollow waves, which form a cylindrical space when set up, are usually very fast and powerful.
  • Tubes: Waves that, when erected, form a tunnel (also called a barrel). Surfing the rolling waves is the ultimate goal for advanced and professional surfers.
  • Powerless waves: Waves that do not break hollow and consist almost entirely of foam.

A quick word about wave sizes:

The type of measurement differs from place to place. In Europe one measures z. B. the front, in the Canaries or in Hawaii the back of a wave.

The wave size is usually given in feet (ft.). When surfers report to each other, however, they usually relate the wave to their body and speak of knee-high, waist-high, shoulder-high, head-high or overhead-high waves.

A quick word about sets:

Sets are wave groups that hit the coast at an even distance. On average, a set consists of 3-7 waves. Between the individual wave groups there are always breaks with time to breathe deeply and to position yourself correctly.

PRO TIP: Never paddle on the first wave in the set. The second and third waves in the set are usually higher than the first and break in a more controlled manner.

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Known surfing areas

Where can I best learn to surf the waves?

As the following map shows, you can actually learn to surf in many places around the world:

This map represents the attempt to combine the most famous spots and surfing areas in one illustration. Because it is rewritable, you can even make notes on it and mark where you have already been. (Incidentally, also a great gift for a friend who is a surfer.)


Sometimes the good is close at hand: The best surf spots in Europe are undoubtedly on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, Spain and France.

You can also surf in Denmark, Germany, England, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Wales.

North America

California is of course the classic. But also in z. For example, Alaska, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, North and South Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Canada have good waves!


Hawaii is a US state, but is no longer geographically assigned to North America. Due to its rich surfing history and culture, as well as its world-class waves, the archipelago deserves its own listing anyway. Prominent surf spots in "Aloha State" can be found e.g. on Big Island, Kaua’i, Maui and O’ahu (especially on the North Shore).


Surfing in a wall mural environment is best in the Caribbean. Great spots offer, among other things. the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

Latin America

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay - if you can't find the dream spot here, you can't help anymore!


Along with Hawaii, Australia is perhaps the cradle of surfing. But also in New Zealand, New Guinea or the Pacific islands of Tahiti and Fiji there are excellent conditions.


The Asian continent has a lot to offer surfers not only in the world's largest island state, Indonesia, and on the Indonesian islands such as Bali, Java, Lombok and Sumatra. Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Maldives also magically attract surfers every year.

Waves can also be found in India, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand or Vietnam. The big surprise: The Middle East with Israel, Iran and the Gaza Strip are also partially surfable!


The best-known surfing area on the African continent is probably South Africa, closely followed by Morocco. But not only since the great documentary Beyond, more and more non-African surfers have been exploring the waves in countries like Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal and Western Sahara.

Then there are the islands of Cape Verde, La Réunion and Mauritius.

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Learn common questions and answers about surfing

Discover the most frequently asked questions about learning to surf below:

How dangerous is surfing?