Surfing requires a lot of core strength and skill. It’s generally associated with young and carefree people, but surfers actually span all demographics.
As more people are focusing on living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying the beach, waves, and power of Mother Nature, surfing is attracting many individuals over the age of 30, 40, and even 60.
That begs the question, is it ever too late to learn to surf and is there such a thing as being “too old”?
Is it Ever Too Late to Go to Surf School?
The best surfers start when they are very young. By the time they reach their teens, they tend to be very comfortable on the water and can hold their own on a surfboard. During their teens, they learn the tricks of the trade and develop strong skills.
They have the time, commitment, and devotion needed to learn their craft and that’s what allows them to become professionals.
When you’re over the age of 30 or 40, you don’t have the benefit of time and you have lost the invincible feeling that comes with being a young and carefree teenager.
But that doesn’t mean it’s too late.
There is no age limit on surfing, so it is never too late to start. You can take surf lessons, absorb yourself in surf culture, and benefit from the stress relief and the joys that go hand-in-hand with learning to surf.
As long as you keep your expectations realistic and don’t expect too much, there’s no reason why you can’t learn to surf and have a lot of fun over the age of 60.
Going to Surf School at 40+
The first step in learning to surf is to take surf lessons. It’s not like learning to speak a new language or play the piano, though. You don’t need to book dozens of lessons and devote the next few years of your life to strict schedules and regular homework.
A couple of lessons should suffice, as you just need to know the basics.
Once you have taken those initial lessons, the rest is down to you.
Riding Waves at 40+
Learning to surf over the age of 30 or 40 is similar to learning at any other age. But if you want to stay safe, avoid too many wipeouts, and maximize the time that you spend on the waves, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Stay in Shape
You need to be in decent physical shape to surf, and if you’re a fully-fledged adult who has been working in offices, eating an unhealthy diet, and exercising infrequently, that might not be the case.
Build your core and your upper body by performing ab exercises (planks, sit ups, leg raises) and upper body exercises (push-ups, bench presses, military presses).
Cardio is important, as well. Stay active, keep your fitness levels high, and if you’re not already a strong swimmer then start improving!
2. Get Comfortable on the Water
Many adults learning to surf for the first time are either trying to recapture their lost youth, having a mid-life crisis, or have just seen their first surfing movie.
Maybe they are decent swimmers. Maybe they have some experience on a skateboard. But they are rarely comfortable in the ocean and this can be a tricky transition to master.
You need to be comfortable with the ocean, as you will be getting very familiar with it over the next few months.
3. Get the Right Equipment
When a child/teenager gets started with a hobby, they usually rely on their parents and will often get the most basic equipment that money can buy.
When an adult does it, they’ll throw all of their disposable income at their new hobby and will own half the surf shop before they even tackle their first wave.
By all means, buy some high-quality equipment, but don’t go overboard.
You need a good wetsuit, a decent surfboard (preferably a longboard or a foamie), and the means to clean and store the board, but that’s it. You don’t need a high-performance board and you definitely don’t need a custom board.
Surfing can be a relatively inexpensive sport if you play your cards right. A good longboard can last you for years and a wetsuit will last even longer. But if you’re constantly upgrading when you’re not ready and being lured by glossy ads and chatty salesmen, it will get very expensive very quickly.
4. Don’t Fear Failure
Beginners will wipe out. They will struggle to maintain their balance and most of their time will be spent in a prone position or scrambling to find their board.
That’s perfectly normal. It’s how everyone learns. Practice makes perfect, but if you’re too focused on vanity, you could miss some vital lessons.
Don’t run before you can walk; don’t stand before you can lie.
The only way to flatten the learning curve, increase your skill level, and become the laidback, YouTube-worthy surfer you want to be is to practice, practice, and practice!
5. Remember That You’re Not Alone
It’s often said that surfing is a young man’s sport, but while that might be true for the superstars who break world records and win gold medals, it’s not true for the average surfer.
After all, the best surfers don’t reach 40 and then suddenly give up. There is also a huge number of older adults and retired people who have always dreamed of surfing but have never had the time, money, or confidence.
You will encounter all ages on the beach and in the surf, and the beauty of the surfing community is that everyone is embraced with open arms.
Summary: Why it’s Never Too Late to Start Surfing
Life is short. There is so much to see and do, and just not enough time to see and do it. But in reality, you’re never too old and it’s never too late.
When it comes to surfing, it’s best to start young if you want to be a professional on par with Kelly Slater. If you’re over 30 and have yet to step foot on a surfboard, then gold medals and world records are probably out of the question. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn enough to have fun riding waves and make a few memories.
Sure, there are limitations and you may face more challenges as an older adult than you would have done as a teenager, but it’s definitely not out of the question.
So, stop worrying about your age, stop thinking that you’re making a fool out of yourself, and start surfing!