Surf & SUP Lesson FAQs

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you have further questions, please feel free to drop us a line, and we’ll get them answered!

How many people are in a Group Lesson?
Group lessons never exceed a 4:1 (four students to one instructor) ratio. Two (2) people are considered a group. We try to keep the overall class size at eight (8) students maximum (or two groups). However, on some busy weekends there may be 12 in a class (or three groups). The class will share the same on-land beach instruction, and will then be split up into smaller groups in the water.

What do I need to bring?
Any personal medication, towel, sandals/flip flops, a change of warm clothes and a cap for after. Be sure to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before your lesson to allow the ingredients to fully bind to your skin.

If I’ve never surfed or paddle boarded, should I start out with a private lesson?
We recommend doing a group lesson to start out. As a surfer starts progressing a private lesson is a better option so that we can focus on his/her needs. However, for children under the age of 10, a private lesson is recommended unless the child is confident in the ocean.

Can I bring my own surfboard or SUP?
Definitely. However, if you have never surfed or paddleboarded before, we recommend using our equipment. The boards are soft for safety and longer or larger which makes them easier to ride and catch waves. And catching more waves equals more fun!

Do I need to wear a wetsuit or booties?
We strongly recommend wearing a full-length wetsuit as the ocean water temperatures typically vary from the low-50’s (degrees) in the winter to mid-60’s in the summer. The water can still be pretty cold even on the hottest summer days. Plus, there is also wind chill to consider while you’re out in the water. A good wetsuit will keep you warm and focused for your lesson in the surf. We provide the warmest and softest wetsuits as part of the lesson.

For SUP’ers it’s not as important since you don’t really get wet. However, for beginner stand up paddleboarders, we strongly recommend wearing a wetsuit. It’s likely you’ll fall off your board, or get splashed more by the breakers while you’re trying to get into or out past the surf zone.

Wetsuit booties are not essential and optional. In fact most cold water surfers here don’t wear booties. It’s more of a personal preference. Some people wear them because they keep your feet warmer and protected better from sharp rocks, shells and other underwater hazards. But many will tell you that they want to feel the board underneath them more, and prefer to not wear them. We provide booties especially in the winter when water temps are the coldest. Let us know your shoe size so that we can get outfitted if you’d like to wear some.

Can I bring my own wetsuit?
Of course. Just keep in mind though that the water temperatures might be colder than what you’re used to if you’re not familiar with the waters off northern California. At the Surf School, we supply the warmest wetsuits for the cold water here. Also, be sure it’s a surfing-specific wetsuit — and not like a SCUBA, kayaking or triathlon wetsuit. Although those may keep you warm too, those types of wetsuits are designed for the body mechanics and specifics of their own sports. There is a difference.

What if there are no waves?
Fortunately here in Santa Cruz, this doesn’t happen too much. As a beginner all you need is a small ripple. It’s safer and easier to learn when the surf is small. Sometimes we cancel if it’s totally flat and there are no waves. If anything, we probably cancel more often due to large surf.

How many lessons should I take?
It’s all up to the individual. There’s no doubt taking a lesson accelerates the learning process. Some people may take one lesson and go flounder on their own until they get it. And some people come back for years to learn faster without bad habits.

We also encourage people to take followup lessons from a different member on our team of highly-qualified instructors. Each instructor is a world-class surfer, and brings their own unique approach and insights to the sport. This will only add to the student’s experience and learning curve.

Do you have any tips or advice before I take a lesson?
The only prerequisite for surfing really is to know how to swim confidently. Other than that, you should watch the full Learn to Surf & Ocean Safety video, and/or read up on the Learn to Surf: How to Walk on Water in Seven Easy Steps. Both of my instructional guides can be found on our SURFOLOGY section. This will give you a solid overview of surfing and it’s environment before you get in the water. But don’t worry if a lot of the information sounds confusing, we’ll cover it in class.