If you’ve never surfed before (or even if you’ve surfed a handful of times) you may be asking yourself “How long does it take to learn how to surf?”.

This - as you’re about to find out - is a very loaded question.

You see there’s learning how to surf, as in the absolute basics, and then there’s learning to get good at it, which is a whole different ball-game altogether. 

Regardless, in this post you’re going to find out how long it takes to learn to surf through all the different levels from beginner, intermediate up to elite. 

Keep reading for more. 

TIMELINES FOR LEARNING TO SURF

Ok, so like I said before I’m going to explain a little more than just how long it takes to learn to surf, as in get to your feet for the first time.

And instead I’m going to give you a rough surfing progression timeline to give you an idea of exactly how long learning to surf can take.

*The approximate times listed below are reflective of a person that surfs at least two to three times per week.

BEGINNER TO PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER

A beginner is someone that’s never surfed before, or surfed only a handful of times, and a progressive beginner is someone that is just about to start catching green unbroken waves unassisted, on a beginner surfboard.

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TIME IT TAKES, AND WHAT TO EXPECT

The journey from beginner, to progressive beginner is the quickest phase in learning to surf, and it's during this phase that you can expect to hit big milestones each time you hit the water. 

During this phase you'll master all the basics:

  • How to paddle and stay balanced on your board. 
  • How to find the sweet spot.
  • How to catch your own whitewater waves and ride them to the beach.
  • How to speed up, slow down, and turn left and right.
  • How to catch small green waves.

APPROXIMATE TIME FROM BEGINNER TO PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER: 3-6 MONTHS 


PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER TO INTERMEDIATE

An intermediate surfer is someone that can catch green waves unassisted, trim left & right, and do all of the above on a fibreglass surfboard. 

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TIME IT TAKES, AND WHAT TO EXPECT

This next stage in the journey will still see rapid leaps in progression, however big advancements will be a little harder to come by. 

Now that you're looking to drop down in equipment size, and transition onto fibreglass surfboards too, you can expect things to get a little tricky at times. 

During this phase you'll be learning the skills to:

APPROXIMATE TIME FROM BEGINNER TO PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER: 6-24 MONTHS 


INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED

An advanced surfer is someone that is able to take off on steep waves, pump for speed, do basic carving and cutback manoeuvres, and floaters too. 

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TIME IT TAKES, AND WHAT TO EXPECT

Making the leap from intermediate to advanced can be a very long process, with many people never reaching the advanced stage. 

Advancements at this stage a small, and take lots of time and dedication in the water to see results. 

Most people never reach this level as they don't invest the time needed to get there, with countless hours surfing in any/all conditions needed to get to this level. 

To get here you'll need to be surfing regularly - at least three to four times per week. 

During this phase you'll be learning the skills to: 

  • Ride a shorter, high performance surfboard.
  • Perform carving manouevres and cutbacks.
  • Execute floaters, and re-entries.
  • Be totally in control of your equipment at all times. 

APPROXIMATE TIME FROM BEGINNER TO PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER: 2-4 YEARS


ELITE & BEYOND

Elite surfers are able to do pretty much all the surfing tricks in the book. All with speed, power, flow & control.

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TIME IT TAKES, AND WHAT TO EXPECT

With most people never reaching the advanced level, even fewer ever reach the level of elite. 

Typically to get to this level you'll need to be obsessed with surfing, and as a general rule of thumb you'll have needed to start out relatively young - 14 years old and under. 

Getting to the elite level also isn't just a matter of time invested, to get to this level you'll also need some natural talent too.

If you get here, well done. You're in the top 1% of all surfers in the world. 

During this phase you'll be learning the skills to:

  • Perform high risk, powerful manoeuvres in the critical part of the wave.
  • Surf challenging, heavy waves.
  • Add extra spice to conventional manoeuvres, adding flair and excitement. 
  • Perform aerial manoeuvres and get barrelled. 
  • And much, much more.

APPROXIMATE TIME FROM BEGINNER TO PROGRESSIVE BEGINNER: 4 YEARS+


WRAPPING IT UP

Learning to surf takes time, and plenty of it. 

What’s more, the actual time you spend surfing each session is oftentimes minuscule, 2 -3 minutes of on-your-feet time at best. 

So, go easy on yourself, getting good at surfing takes years, and takes a lifetime to perfect. 

Doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable though.

Yew!

Rowan. 

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

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