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WhiskeyRunner
09-15-2015, 09:24 PM
After a full summer of surfing, I'm fully addicted; thanks Moomba. In fact, for Spring Break next year we are looking to rent a house or stay at Surf Camp in Costa Rica or Panama. Any chance folks on this forum have done something similar and want to share their experiences/recommendations? We are all beginners when it comes to ocean waves, but thought it was worth a shot to see if someone else has done it...

mjr119
09-15-2015, 09:30 PM
Ocean surfing is a lot of work. Not all fun and games. You have to have excellent balance and strong paddle skills. And then you need luck to get a good wave. Make sure you wear a top. My stomach was raw after a 1 hour session.

It's tough to paddle. You have to balance on the board and paddle as fast or faster than the wave. I'm a pretty good wake surfer and I barely managed to ride in 1 wave my first time out. It was an experience for sure.

Another thing. If the waves are good you will have a tough time getting out to the break point. Waves will pummel you. I was so exhausted and almost sick from swallowing salt water by the time I made it out far enough. I'll definitely try it again and hopefully conditions will be better. It made me appreciate the perfect wave you get with wake surfing.

Poison
09-16-2015, 11:49 AM
mjr119 nailed it. Ocean surfing is a blast, but you will be tired. Paddle, paddle, paddle...all day long...against the current. I highly recommend lessons. The last time I ocean surfed was in North Shore Hawaii. The lessons are not that expensive and definitely worth it. Its kinda the same as wake surfing, but also very different...tough to explain. After an hour or two with the instructor, we were picking our own waves and doing pretty well. I've been fortunate to have ideal conditions the last two times I went, so my experience wasn't quite as miserable as mjr119s. Costa Rica is great too...I have some in-laws down there and I always enjoy visiting. It is a gorgeous country and the trip is not overly expensive if you do it right.

There is also a unique feeling of solace you might find sitting out beyond the breaks on a surfboard in the ocean. I know I really enjoy it. YMMV.

gregski
09-16-2015, 12:42 PM
My wife and I went to San Diego last year and took a couple days of lessons. Like the others said, it was great but exhausting. Even by the second morning our joke was (in German accent) "time to get out of bed and continue the beatings!" The actual surfing part (balance) is close enough to wake surfing that if you are solid behind the boat, you will have a huge advantage in the ocean - our instructors were surprised how many waves we were able to catch and ride. Getting up is a little different, I felt like it was finding a balance between pointing down the wave but not going head-over-heels.

The paddling part is the trick. The waves are relentless and I was often convinced that each wave pushed me backwards further than I could paddle forward. A few times, I gave up and basically walked/jumped/swam the board out. Like so many things, it's technique. I would put everything I had into paddling just to barely make forward progress - 100% effort to the point of exhaustion. The instructors? They barely put their hand in the water, give it a little flick and it would propel them 10 times further than my best paddle stroke. Jerks. I kept wishing that someone would install a cable tow that would just pull you out there like a ski lift. Let the beginners learn to surf first, then learn to paddle!

It was fun and worth all of the pain! You absolutely must start with some instruction. If I had a week vacation, I would take 2-3 days lessons and then give myself a rest day, play with it on my own for a 1-2 days and then get another lesson to address the questions that came up, and then go on my own for another day or two. If you go with a camp, they probably have a good schedule/routine for newbies.

mjr119
09-16-2015, 03:03 PM
Another thing, it's very weird to figure out your position on the board once you stand up. The majority of the time I found myself standing too far back after getting up. Which would make the wave pass underneath me. I was surfing at Myrtle beach in SC. Certainly not the best surf spot in the world! haha.

Gregski, I definitely feel your pain regarding forward progress. I would make good progress paddling out, then here comes a wave that would flip me over and I would get dragged most of the way back to shore by the board. Eventually I started throwing my board over the waves and ducking under the wave. This worked okay, for a while, until I didnt get the board over the wave once and it came back at me full force and almost killed me. haha.

Plus I hate salt water. Everything about it. I hate sand too. I'll stick to inland surfing!

MJHSupra
09-16-2015, 07:20 PM
I agree will all of the above. Especially the paddling part. It will knock the crap out of you in the AM.

I’m been fortunate enough to be able to surf in Hawaii and Australia. Learned there years ago. Gained new respect for the ocean.

I would also mix up some lessons, try it on your own, and try more lessons. All of those places have boards you can rent weekly. Most of the places I’ve been to will let you swap out different board lengths and styles depending on the surf conditions.

Big group lessons suck. You need to find out how many people-to-instructors there are? Are there different levels of instruction? How long are the lessons – day?

Getting up on a board in the ocean is MANY times harder than a wake-boat. It will take more out of you than wake boarding,

Mark

gregski
09-16-2015, 08:15 PM
Big group lessons suck. You need to find out how many people-to-instructors there are? Are there different levels of instruction? How long are the lessons – day?

Getting up on a board in the ocean is MANY times harder than a wake-boat. It will take more out of you than wake boarding
Definitely pay for the private lesson. Basically, the instructor will help launch you in the beginning but that means he can only do 1 at a time, and you have to wait for a decent wave. I think 2 people gets the timing right so that you aren't waiting: 1 person going while 1 person paddling. Anything more than that and you are waiting around - 4 people means half as much time with the instructor trying to catch a wave.

I didn't find the getting up part to be MANY times harder than behind the boat. It's just different. Actually, if you started with someone who had never wake-boarded, I bet they would find getting up on a surf board to be easier than a wake-surf board (with instruction in both cases). The problem is that when you mess up, you don't just sit in the water and wait for the wave (aka boat) to go again, you just got sent back to the beginning for more paddling. So a small mistake means more beatings!