It’s something like this. If you’re lucky.
Ah, so the tropical waters beckon you, enticing you to fulfill your vacation dream of learning to surf those gorgeous blue waves . . .
I know all about it, and can share some top tips to make your first surfing lesson not entirely suck.
- Schedule an early morning class. Earlier in the day means it’s a little cooler, a little less sun, better water conditions*, and fewer people on the beach to see your epic fails.
- Skip breakfast, or lunch. Or really any food. In fact, don’t consume anything before your lesson.
- Smother yourself in sunscreen. Including your scalp. Because that sun will burn every last micrometer of your skin—even the bare slivers that show between your roots.
- Wear a one-piece suit. And guys? Skip the trunks and go for the retro look. I highly recommend something from the early 1900’s—less likely to come off when you get pounded by a wave.
- Swallow your pride. You are going to fail. Just accept that.
- Figure out early on if you are goofy. “Goofy”** in surf terminology = right foot forward. Knowing ahead of time if you are left or right foot forward is helpful.
- Take the taxi. There is a distinct reason there are no fat surfers—because surfing is a lot of work. You paddle all the way out to catch a wave, then maybe you catch a wave, then you paddle back out for another wave, and you keep doing this until you decide to paddle back to shore. For the record, it is a VERY LONG way to get back to the beach. So when your instructor offers to “toe” you in (he hooks his toes over your surfboard and tows you back to the beach), take it.
My one and only surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach formed the basis of my short story “Surf’s Up” in Out of Time. However, the fictional version has a happier ending than my own experience, which involved feeding the local sealife my continental breakfast, and having to get pathetically “toed” in to shore. I am now more than happy to skip the waves and just enjoy myself on the beach, on an unmoving towel, admiring the view of the water between page turns of a brain candy book***.
* At least that’s what my instructor said. I wouldn’t know.
** There is a lovely little breakfast join named “Goofy Cafe & Dine” on Ala Moana Blvd. Kalua pork in Eggs Benedict? Oh, yeah.
*** The kind of book that does not tax your mind, that is the mental equivalent of cotton candy—light, fluffy, inconsequential. And the kind that, like eating too much Halloween candy, gives you that icky coating that you have to floss and scrub away, and makes you vow never to eat that stuff again and as of tomorrow you’ll only eat broccoli and brown rice. Or maybe that’s just me.