Which Sunshine Coast surf school is for you?
I didn’t learn to surf until I was 33 years old.
That was just over one year ago, and although I’m still a long way from being the next Stephanie Gilmore, nothing compares with paddling onto a sweet little wave and getting to my feet, stoked on life.
When the sun’s shining, the water’s clear, and the morning is just rising out of the glassy surface out back, I have one particular voice running through my head. He’s usually shouting things like “eyes up!”, “stop worrying about your togs being up your bum!” and “PADDLE!!!”
The upside of having a coach like this – one who can critique your every wobble, see the things you can’t see (when you’re too busy hesitating whether you should go for it, or not) and keep you pepped up when you’ve been absolutely smashed by a set you never saw coming – is that you’re constantly improving and gaining more confidence in the water.
With a few lessons, some conscious mindfulness, and a lot of practice, anyone can strive for that feeling I’m sure only Kelly Slater really knows (the dude is a freak of nature!).
So if you’re keen to wax up a (foam) board, strap on a legrope and finally give surfing a go, get in touch with one of these Sunshine Coast surf schools.
To capture your “first ride”: Coolum Surf School
Sure, building sandcastles and eating ice-cream is fun, but being able to stand up on your own wave and see the beach from an entirely new perspective blows all of that other stuff out of the water.
With a maximum instructor-to-surfer ratio of 1:8, Coolum Surf School is ready to take you from complete kook to fluid surfer. Long-time locals Chris and Genevieve Kendall have been running lessons on Coolum Beach since 2001, starting with just two surfboards and a big dream.
Try a two-hour beginner’s lesson – they run from 9am-11am all year long – or go for total one-on-one attention with a private lesson. All your gear will be provided so all you need to do is rock up with a positive attitude and be ready to get well acquainted with the whitewash (don’t worry, you’ll graduate to the ‘green room’ in no time).
Hot tip: They even have a professional photographer on hand to snap your shining stand-up moment, and will have it edited and stored on a USB quicker than you can say “gnarly, dude”.
Where: Find the Coolum Surf School truck parked at Tickle Park at Coolum‘s main beach.
Ph: +61 438 731 503
If you want to surf all day, errry day: Robbie Sherwell’s XL Surfing Academy, Alexandra Headland
There’s no point sitting on the sand, just watching the waves while you cup your coffee and think about learning to surf “one day”.
With summer intensives through to surf-and-yoga classes, and a weekly membership that lets you join as many surf sessions as you please, there’s no easier way to move from professional sunbather and bag minder to serious surfer than lessons with XL Surfing Academy in ‘Alex’.
Former pro surfer, Sherwell, leads an all-star cast of coaches teaching groms through to mature-age wannabe pros and their tried-and-tested training method will have you standing on your first lesson.
In-water classes are complemented by SmoothStar skateboard sessions and paddling practice. Don’t worry, you won’t be dropping in on anyone at the skate park, rather cruising along the pathways of the beachfront park to really tune into the muscles needed to control your board in the surf.
Hot tip: If you live on the coast or are sticking around for a while, memberships are available from $24 per week.
Where: Meet the crew in the car park in between the skate park and the Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club.
Ph: + 61 423 039 505
When you can’t resist Noosa’s perfect little peelers: Noosa Learn to Surf
There’s no risk of performance anxiety here – the guys at Noosa Learn to Surf guarantee you’ll be standing by the end of your first lesson.
Noosa’s protected bay and consistent wave action make it an ideal spot for beginners. But before you step foot in the surf, you’ll be taught how to identify currents and rips, wave understanding and other surf safety tips so you’ll be well prepped for anything the ocean wants to throw at you.
Run by former World Champ, Merrick Davis, lessons happen daily at 9am and 1:30pm all year round, or you can arrange a two-hour private lesson at 11:15am.
And if you decide that maybe surfing isn’t quite your jam, they also offer kayak tours and stand-up paddleboarding, too.
Surf lessons can even be conducted in French, too! Oui Oui!
Hot tip: Come back to get amongst the action at the Noosa Festival of Surfing, on from 4-11 March 2017, with age divisions from grommets to grandpas and even surfing dogs!
Where: Look for the red tent on Noosa Main Beach west of the first rock wall at beach access 14.
Ph: +61 418 787 577
To start ’em young… North Caloundra Surf School
Did you know Joel Parkinson went to primary school on the Sunshine Coast? There may have even been a few games of catch ‘n’ kiss on the oval of Currimundi Primary School. #justsayin’
But kissing games aside, it was on the beaches of Caloundra that pro surfer ‘Parko’ honed his early skills and North Caloundra Surf School are all about doing that for the next wave of potential pros.
Operating on two of the best beaches on the southern end of the coast – Kings Beach and Dicky Beach – you’ve guaranteed excellent learner conditions regardless of what the wind is doing. When summer’s northeasterlies turn most beaches on the Sunshine Coast into a washing machine, Kings will usually stay smooth and clean.
Hot tip: Fuel up after your surf at Coffee Cat, right on the shoreline at Kings Beach.
Where: Just south of the patrolled lifeguard area at both beaches.
Ph: +61 412 563 191
To start your surfing journey in one of the most picturesque spots on earth… Go Ride A Wave Noosa
There’s many things to love about Noosa – its pristine national park, a plethora of cafes and restaurants, and well, its ridiculous beauty – but once you embrace the full Noosa lifestyle on a longboard you can bet you’ll be hooked for life.
Classified as one of 19 National Surfing Reserves in Australia, Noosa joins the likes of Maroubra in Sydney, Lennox Head, Margaret River, and Burleigh Heads, ranked on wave quality, its sacredness to the local community, and the long-term use of the beach. In other words, it’s a pretty pimpin’ spot to get your surfing L plates.
Go Ride a Wave Noosa run daily two-hour beginner surf lessons every day at 10am and 2pm with an additional class at 8am during busy school holiday times.
Group and private lessons are also available on request.
Hot tip: There’s no better spot to head to after your surf than the Noosa Surf Life Saving Club, where you can sit on the balcony and critique the surfers out on the point (now that you totally know what you’re talking about).
Where: Find the big white trailer at Beach Access Track 11 – this is the 7th car park once you reach the end of Hastings Street and enter Noosa Woods.
Ph: 1300 132 441