Destinations, Experience, The Americas
Surf’s up! Great Places to Learn to Surf
By D Williams
There are those out there who think people of color don’t surf, especially black women. This notion is not only false, but more of us are becoming interested in the sport. Our hair issues aside, black women are just as capable to rip and curl as the next guy. I know firsthand the feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment when wave riding. The sense of euphoria is difficult to describe, but once you feel it, you’re compelled to seek it again. As a surf instructor once told me, it is a feeling surfers are addicted to. I wouldn’t call myself a surfer by any means, but I’ve had glimpses of what he was referring to. I’ve decided to continue the chase. For those of you interested in surfing, the following are a few great places to try. Eye candy included.
Manhattan Beach, CA
This was the site of my very first lesson. Just outside Los Angeles, this city is located in the southwest portion of LA County. Both newbies and experienced surfers flock to this beach known for the beautiful homes outlining the Pacific coastline. It is a haven for many SoCal surfers south of the city of Angels. Due to the unpredictability of nature, a part of surfing includes being able to read the ocean’s patterns at any given time. The waves in certain parts of this beach are fairly predictable and manageable for beginners and intermediates. There are a bevy of enthusiastic surfers and surf companies who are available to teach individuals and groups. The proximity to LA and the great options for dining, shopping, and relaxing near the pier after a session are all reasons why it makes this list. (Sidenote: for fellow sweet treat addicts, try Manhattan Beach Creamery, arguably the best ice cream cookie sandwiches on the planet!)
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
There are a number of reasons why this is a great place for a black girl to learn how to surf, including the beautiful array of men surfing or strolling the beach. From the darkest to the lightest hues of brown, they added to the eye pleasing aesthetic of this hidden gem. Puerto Viejo is a backpacker’s dream, a small beachy town along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica just north of Panama. It consists of a significant amount of locals of African-Caribbean descent due to an influx of Jamaicans over a hundred years ago. Selfishly, I hope it is always able to keep its chill, laid back beachy vibe. The relaxed vibes emanating from the people and surrounding atmosphere assist in creating a positive first time experience for a novice surfer. The ocean water is warmer here, so no need for a wetsuit(unlike the colder waters of the Pacific). PV provides various beaches offering consistent waves, well suited for any kind of surfer. If you didn’t make a reservation beforehand, you should have no trouble finding other surfers and instructors offering up surfboards and lessons as soon as your feet touch the sand.
A surf list wouldn’t be complete without a Hawaiian island being on the list. Hawaii has the reputation for being one of the surf capitals of the world for good reason. Many surfing pros consider this place home. Kauai, the least developed and oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, is also known for being one of the less hectic, more relaxed islands. There is no bustling, populous city like Honolulu on this garden island. The laid back vibe congruously characterizes the type of waves you may encounter in Kauai. Slow rolling with long barrels, these waves are perfect for practice. Poipu beach is one of the ideal beaches to learn. The water temperatures are often ideal for riding waves wetsuit free. Depending on the season, you have opportunities to ride long waves all the way up to shore. If you are willing to explore the island, there is natural beauty abound.
I’ve ‘gone surfing’ a few times and I continue to use an instructor in an effort to advance my skills and for safety. There is an art and skill to reading the ocean, so always practice and proceed with caution. Being a bit of an adrenaline junkie myself, I plan to continue my quest to capture that feeling over and over again. There are so many great beaches out there… happy wave hunting!
A dreamer by nature, D is an avid traveler and adventurer who enjoys exploring different cultures around the world. Always plotting her next trip and/or challenge, she can be seen taking a surf lesson, hiking a mountain, or rappelling down a waterfall. A photo-teller and music lover, she hopes to encourage and inspire others to explore their inner creative through travel. You can follow D Will's photo-telling on IG: @worldwiderevel.