Surf Lessons for Beginners & Intermediates
If you want to learn how to surf, nothing beats starting with a well structured and organized surf lesson given to you by a professional and experienced surf instructor. If you have surfed a few times before but want to make sure that you have the correct techniques, a surf lesson will definitely help. Even if you can stand up regularly and ride the face of the wave, you can benefit from surfing lessons to learn how to gain speed and improve your turns and cutbacks.
Each surf course begins with the basics: sea safety, surfing etiquette and awareness, understanding the ocean and how waves are produced, proper paddling techniques, how to stand up and catch waves, duck diving, etc. This introduction to surf is given right on the beach with your board in hand. After your first two or three surfing lessons, once you're able to stand up and ride the whitewater in a straight line, we recommend that you work on getting stronger. For this next step, you really don't need surf lessons: you just have to get out there, push yourself hard and practice!
Practicing and Getting Stronger
The islands of Bocas del Toro offer you several beginner friendly surf breaks and your surf instructor will be happy to tell you where and when to go. Some are beach breaks and others are mellow reef breaks with the waves breaking in deep enough water so that the reef doesn't represent a hazard. You should always go with someone else and never by yourself. After having a couple of surf lessons, you're welcome to just rent a board and tag along, while others are having their lessons and this will help you feel more secure.
As already mentioned, once you've got the basics nailed down it's just a matter of getting into the water as much as you can. In this way you'll be able to build up your confidence and strength, especially your arms, back, and core muscles. Even if you're in really good shape, when you start surfing you'll be using a whole different set of muscles that you don't normally use (even swimmers don't use them). Paddling and being able to comfortably get out to the lineup without feeling exhausted is probably the first challenge that you'll have to encounter. Once you're a bit more confident and stronger, then it's time to come back for some more surfing lessons. If you'd prefer, it's also possible to have a surf instructor during this entire period.
Getting Better & Improving your Surfing Skills
It's incredible how the body learns through repetition and each time you manage to stand up your body automatically learns how to stay balanced and your reactions become quicker. You'll be able to stay up longer, catch better waves and you'll be able to put into practice board control. It's also a good time to go over other topics such as wave selection and wave positioning. Reading the waves as they come to you, deciding which wave to take, learning where to be and when to be there are tasks and skills that take some time to acquire, and a few additional surf lessons can definitely do wonders to speed up the process.
Depending on how you space out your surfing lessons and on how fast you're able to get stronger and make progress, three to five surf lessons should do the trick to initiate yourself in this wonderful sport. Depending on your natural abilities and fitness level, sometimes it's a good idea to have three lessons during your first week, and leave the other two lessons for when you're stronger. Others, with less time on their hands, prefer to sign up for five lessons a week. And yet others will feel more comfortable having fewer lessons throughout a longer period of time. The truth is, once you start, your body and your surf instructor will determine what's best for you.
Rates for Surfing Lessons
||La Escuela del Mar
||Mono Loco Surf School
|Half Day Surf Lesson
|3 Day Surf Course
|5 Day Surf Course
|Each Extra Lesson after a 5 Day Surf Course
|Board Rental without Surf Lesson
||$15 - $20 USD per day
||$20 USD per day
|Transportation by Boat Back and From Beginner Break without Lesson
* Prices are in US Dollars. The above prices do not include Panama's 7% ITBMS Sales Tax. Class includes theory part, surf board, rash guard, wax, transport to surf break, class in the water, and transport back to the school. A boat from Isla Colón, the main island, to La Escuela del Mar Surf School in Carenero costs $2 per person. Theory part of class with Mono Loco starts at the garden of Mono Loco HQ in town so no additional cost has to be added. Daily classes start at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. (or 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. depending on waves). Meeting point for Escuela del Mar is Bibi's Restaurant in Carenero Island, right next to La Escuela del Mar Surf School (where a boat can drop you off on a dock). Meeting point for Mono Loco Surf School is at the center of town on 2nd Street, right at Mono Loco.