Can I Learn To Surf At 40? (Or older)

It’s a common misconception that surfing is a young person’s sport, but let me dispel that notion. Age is nothing but a number when it comes to riding the waves. 

You can absolutely learn to surf at 40 or older. Many people have successfully taken up surfing in their 40s and beyond. It may require some dedication and practice, but age is not a barrier to learning this exciting sport. Don’t let age hold you back from pursuing your passion for surfing.

I did not learn how to swim and surf until my late thirties. I now surf regularly, one of the best things I have ever done. It is a wonderful exercise and connects me with wonderful, like-minded people. 

In this article, I will delve into how to embark on your surfing journey, maximize the benefits of surf lessons, and explore the duration it typically takes to learn this exhilarating sport. 

Drawing from my experience, I’ll share the unique advantages of learning to surf as an adult. So, whether you’re 40 or pushing 90+, grab your surfboard.

Can I Learn To Surf At 40?

Many individuals have taken up surfing for the first time in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Age is not a disqualifier for surfing. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. 

As an adult, you bring maturity and patience to learning, often resulting in a more fulfilling surfing experience. You understand your limits, are more likely to take calculated risks, and appreciate the joys of learning a new skill in a way that younger individuals often do not. 

Plus, with the right guidance and approach, you can learn to surf safely and enjoy the myriad of benefits this sport offers.

Learning to surf at an older age is a great way to learn a new skill, keep fit and connect with like-minded people. 

How Do I Start Surfing In My 40s?

Starting to surf in your 40s begins with a positive mindset. Acknowledge that learning something new at this age is an exciting challenge, not an insurmountable obstacle. 

Having learned to surf in my late thirties, I know how intimidating learning a new skill can be. Surfing is an endorphin high; it’s a wonderful sport to take up at any age. 

Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Take Professional Lessons: A qualified surf instructor will guide you through the basics and ensure you’re learning proper techniques from the start. They can also provide valuable advice on safety and etiquette in the water.
  2. Practice Regularly: Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you will become. Surfing can have a steep learning curve, not because the actual skill is tricky, but because the right elements must come together to catch a wave, such as sea swell and wind conditions. If you are lucky enough to live next to an inland wave pool where waves are artificially generated, this is a great place to learn to surf, as the waves are consistent and constant. 
  3. Invest In The Right Surfboard: As a beginner, opt for a larger, more stable surfboard. These are easier to balance on and will help build your confidence in the water.
  4. Stay Fit: Surfing requires good physical condition. Regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training can help. Swimming is a great sport, and it will prepare you for the water. 
  5. Connect with a Surfing Community: Join a local surf club or online group. They can offer support, advice, and camaraderie.

Remember, the goal is to have fun and enjoy the journey of learning to surf. Whether it’s your first time standing up on a board or catching your first wave, celebrate each milestone along the way.

How Late Is Too Late To Start Surfing? 

The truth is, it’s never too late to start surfing. Surfing is a sport that truly embraces all ages. Whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond, the waves are waiting for you. Age should never be a barrier to trying something new, not least a sport that offers as many physical and mental benefits as surfing does. It’s about your determination, resilience, and willingness to embrace the sea. 

Your age might dictate the pace at which you learn and the degree to which you may push yourself, but it does not dictate your ability to learn and enjoy surfing. 

So, if you’ve been thinking about it, it’s time to put those thoughts into action. Find some beginner surf lessons, and ride your first wave. The sea doesn’t know how old you are, and neither does the surfboard. It’s all about you, the wave, and the ride. Remember, the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.

Can I Teach Myself To Surf?

It’s possible, but not highly recommended, to teach yourself how to surf. Learning to surf involves understanding both the technical aspects of manoeuvring a surfboard and the dynamic, ever-changing nature of the ocean. Having a professional instructor guide you through these dual learning curves will likely lead to a safer, faster, and more enjoyable learning experience. 

While some experienced swimmers or board sports enthusiasts may manage self-teaching, beginners especially can benefit from lessons that cover fundamentals like paddle technique, pop-ups, wave timing, and etiquette. 

Remember, surfing isn’t just about riding a wave; it is also about knowing how to respect the ocean and the surfing community. Self-taught surfers often risk developing bad habits or missing key safety precautions, which can lead to more challenging progress and potential injuries. 

If you’re ready to ride the waves, invest in some quality surf lessons – it’s worth it.

How Quickly Can You Learn To Surf?

The time it takes to learn to surf can vary greatly from person to person, depending largely on individual fitness level, comfort in the water, and frequency of practice.

As a general rule of thumb, with consistent practice and under the guidance of a good instructor, a beginner can often learn the basics of surfing — such as paddling, standing up on the board, and catching small waves — within a few weeks to a couple of months.

Surf SkillWeather ConditionsTime To Learn
PaddlingAny 1-2 Days
Duck Diving / TurtleSmall waves. Light wind. Consistent waves4-8 weeks with regular surf sessions (3-4 hours per week)
Catching White Water Waves Lying DownSmall 1-2ft waves. Light wind. 1 Day To 1 Week. With a good teacher, you could be doing this in your first lesson.
Catching First WaveSmall 1-2ft waves. Light offshore wind. Consistent waves8-12 weeks with regular surf sessions (3-4 hours a week) and consisten surf conditions.
This Table Shows The Average Time It Takes To Learn To Surf Based On Teacher Experience

It’s important to remember, however, that surfing is a complex sport that involves not only physical skills but also an understanding of the ocean and wave patterns. Truly mastering these elements can take years. 

I have heard it say that surfing has one of the steepest learning curves. This is because the sport of surfing depends on the waves. As every wave is different, it can be hard to learn quickly due to a lack of consistency and weather conditions.

Lots of inland wave pools are now popping up all over the world. These are bodies of water with a wave machine that will create a consistent wave. If you want to learn to surf quickly, using one of these wave pools is a great option, as the waves are consistent. Unfortunately, they are not everywhere. If you are lucky enough to live near a surfing wave pool,

Patience and dedication are key. Regardless of how quickly you learn, the most important thing is to enjoy the process, respect the ocean, and celebrate your progress, wave by wave. Surfing is less about the destination and more about the journey. 

What Are The Benefits of Learning To Surf? 

Learning to surf offers a multitude of benefits, both physically and mentally. Physically, it’s a full-body workout that strengthens core muscles, improves balance, enhances cardiovascular fitness, and promotes overall flexibility. 

Mentally, surfing can boost mood, reduce stress, and promote a state of mindfulness as one learns to read and respond to the rhythm of the waves. It also fosters resilience and patience, as every wave presents a new challenge and an opportunity for growth. 

Furthermore, surfing invites an intimate connection with nature, providing a unique form of escapism and a profound sense of tranquillity. It can also foster a sense of community as you connect with fellow surfers and share the mutual thrill of riding a wave. 

In essence, the benefits of learning to surf extend far beyond the physical; it can be a transformative journey that affects all aspects of life.

11 Benefits Of Surfing

Here are some benefits learning to surf later in life.

  1. Full Body Workout: Surfing is a sport that exercises your entire body, from your legs and core to your upper body and arms.
  2. Improves Balance: The act of standing and staying on a surfboard significantly improves your balance and coordination skills.
  3. Enhances Cardiovascular Fitness: Paddling out to catch waves provides a great cardiovascular workout, which can improve heart health.
  4. Promotes Flexibility: The dynamic movements involved in surfing increase overall body flexibility.
  5. Boosts Mood: The physical exertion and thrill of catching a wave can elevate mood and promote a sense of happiness.
  6. Reduces Stress: Being in the ocean and focusing on the waves provides a form of mindfulness that can reduce stress and anxiety.
  7. Encourages Patience: Waiting for the right wave to ride cultivates patience and calmness.
  8. Fosters Resilience: Learning to surf presents numerous challenges, fostering resilience as you learn to tackle each new wave.
  9. Connects You with Nature: Surfing invites an intimate interaction with the ocean, providing a connection with nature and an appreciation for its beauty.
  10. Cultivates a Sense of Community: Joining the surfing community can lead to new friendships and a shared sense of passion and camaraderie.
  11. Provides Escapism: Surfing can take your mind off daily routines and problems, offering a unique form of escapism and promoting mental well-being.

Top Tips For Adults Learning To Surf 

As a “later in life” surfer myself, here are some valuable tips to keep in mind as you start your surfing journey:

  1. Start with a Lesson: It’s always advisable to start with a professional lesson. This will help you get comfortable with your board, learn how to paddle and stand up, and understand critical wave and ocean conditions.
  2. Safety First: Always be aware of your surroundings in the water. This includes understanding the rules of the surf, being aware of other surfers and swimmers, and any potential hazards such as rocks or strong currents.
  3. Get To The Pool: Swimming is a wonderful activity to prepare you for surfing. Practising the front crawl is a great way to build the shoulder and arm strength needed to paddle out into the waves. Also, the feeling of being in the water and holding your breath is a great way to mentally prepare yourself for waves.
  4. Practice Paddling: Paddling is a crucial part of surfing. Practice this skill in flat water before you hit the waves to build up strength and technique.
  5. Practice Your “Pop-Up” On Dryland: Before you get into the water, it’s beneficial to practice your “pop-up” technique — the motion you use to quickly stand up on the surfboard from a prone position. You can do this at home on a flat surface. Start by lying down flat on your stomach, as if you were on a surfboard. Then, in one swift motion, push up with your hands and swing your legs underneath you, popping up to a standing position. This action can be quite challenging in the water, so mastering it on dry land will give you a significant advantage when you start surfing.
  6. Get the Right Gear: An essential first step to learning how to surf is to invest in the right gear. As a beginner, this might just be a good swimsuit for under your wetsuit, some booties and a dryrobe just to make getting to and from the water a bit nicer. As a beginner learning to surf through surf lessons, gear such as surfboards and wetsuits should be provided. 
  7. Work on Your Fitness: Surfing is a physically demanding sport. Incorporate regular cardiovascular and strength training exercises into your routine to improve your surfing.
  8. Be Patient: Learning to surf takes time, practice, and patience. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t stand up on your first few tries. With time and practice, you will improve.
  9. Respect the Ocean and Others: Always remember to respect the ocean and other surfers. Never drop in on someone else’s wave, and always help others if they are in trouble.
  10. Have Fun: Lastly, remember to have fun. Surfing is not just about mastering a sport; it’s about enjoying the ride and the connection with the ocean. So relax, enjoy the waves, and embrace the surfing journey.

Final Thoughts

Learning to surf is not a matter of age but of passion, determination, and respect for the ocean. 

No matter if you are in your 40s or beyond, surfing offers a unique amalgamation of physical challenge, mental relaxation, and sheer joy. The journey might be filled with obstacles, but the reward is an incomparable connection with nature, a sense of accomplishment, and a vibrant community to be a part of. 

So embrace the waves, cherish each moment of growth, and remember – the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun. It’s never too late to start your surfing journey!

Emma Moore

Hi, I am Emma, and I am obsessed with all watersports, from swimming to surfing and everything in between. I spend my free time in the water or preparing for my next water travel adventure.

Recent Posts