How many lessons does it take to learn to surf?

Surfing is an exciting and fun activity that people of all ages can enjoy. If your interest is piqued, you may want to give it a try. But how long will it take you?

Everyone learns differently, which means some learn faster than others with similar skills; but there are other factors, predominantly fitness and motivation (or lack thereof). So how many lessons does it take to surf?

Fitness LevelStanding on a surfboardRiding the open wave face
Unfit3-4 Lessons6-8 Lessons
Average2 Lessons3-4 Lessons
Fit1 Lesson2-3 Lessons
Very Fit1 Lesson2 Lessons
Based on 2 hours lessons with a small group (3-5) students
how many lessons does it take to learn to surf

Picking the right surfboard

Learning to surf on a longboard will be much easier than with a shortboard. A larger surface area and more stability make it easier to catch waves, while smaller shortboards mean you’ll find it harder to pop up and stand on your board balance from the start.

Aim to try to learn to surf on a board that’s longer than your height, ideally by a few feet. They can sometimes feel unstable at first, partly because they’re not as heavy or thick – but that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving it their all during practice sessions at home (or elsewhere).

Learning to surf in smaller waves

Learning to surf requires patience and practice. It’s important to start small so your first attempts don’t lead to injury or worse, but big enough that there are some waves you can learn on without being overwhelmed if things go wrong.

Large waves require much more paddling and you’ll exert more energy meaning less time actually surfing.

If you’re just starting out surfing and want to have fun, opt for waist-high and below waves to learn to surf as quickly as possible.

The skill level of the instructor

The skill level of the teacher can have a big impact on how fast you learn. When an experienced teacher is guiding your learning experience you’ll quickly progress with clear, actionable advice.

If you want to learn by taking as few surf lessons as possible it’s important to find an instructor with great communication skills that you can build a rapport with.

You can teach yourself to surf without surf lessons but a skilled instructor will be able to give you tips and advice that you may not uncover surfing alone.

How often do you join a surfing lesson?

Learning to surf is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. For someone who’s new and wants it badly, it usually takes a total of 10-15 hours, but don’t let that discourage you.

To learn to surf, you need the commitment and time to master it. The more often you practice, even if it’s just an hour or two a week, the more progress you can make, as long as you can balance it with other activities in life.

Your natural ability

Great athletes spend hours a day in the water but also improve their craft by watching videos and studying books. However, your natural ability will play a massive part in how quickly you progress through surfing’s learning curve.

If you want to become a better surfer and progress faster, it all depends on how dedicated you’re. The more time you take to learn techniques and practice them, the faster you’ll progress – because practice makes perfect.

You can improve your fitness and balance before a surfing lesson with our helpful guide on how to practice surfing at home.

Your fitness level

Learning to surf is an incredible experience that will take you on the journey of a lifetime. Catching and surfing waves may be hard at first, but with practice, they become easier and more fun.

For someone who’s overweight or out of shape, it takes longer than if you’re at a higher fitness level because it takes time to paddle out and consistently paddling and catching waves can be quite taxing on your body.

To learn to surf quickly, you’ll need good physical fitness and some coordination. But don’t forget that practice makes perfect! If you put time and effort into learning this new sport, your skills will improve quickly.

The weather/surf conditions

When you’re learning to surf, the weather can affect your comfort in the water. For example, if there are big waves or cold temperatures it can make it difficult for people who’ve just started surfing.

Aim to learn to surf in small clean conditions with little to no wind and comfortable temperatures. Depending on where you’re surf lessons are you may need to wear a wetsuit to stay warm.

You can surf in onshore waves but we strongly recommend having your first lessons when the wind is offshore (blowing against the waves) and the waves are uniform and groomed by the wind.

How many people are in your class

The number of people in your surfing lesson is important. The average group is 8 students and classes usually last 2 hours, but you can also take individual classes that can last an hour or more if needed.

It’s hard to say how long it’ll take because some people have different natural talents but learning to surf in a smaller group is always preferred.

Try to aim for a 1:5 ratio of instructor to trainees to ensure you get the attention you need to resolve any issues with your paddling, pop up or technique.


So how many surfing lessons does it actually take to learn to surf? That depends on several factors, such as natural ability, fitness level, and weather conditions. In general, though, you can expect to need about 10 hours with an experienced surf instructor in good waves before you can surf on your own.

Of course, this number can change based on the factors we’ve listed above. Now you have a better idea of what to expect you can plan ahead and start your surfing journey today. Just remember the most important part of surfing is having fun.

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