Fancy yourself as a surfer but never caught a wave before? A day of learning to surf on Sydney’s Northern Beaches could be just the ticket.
Shane Conwell from Manly Surf School picks us up near Central Station in Sydney and we travel up to the Northern Beaches for a day of learning to surf. Shane’s local to the area and so he knows all the best surf beaches and quite a bit about the history of surfing, too. Did you know it was made popular in Australia by Waikiki-born swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku in 1915, whose statue stands over Freshwater? No, neither did I. On the drive we cruise past Manly, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Narabeen, Pitt Water, Avalon and Whale Beach – and that’s some seriously spectacular scenery.
An hour later we arrive at Palm Beach and get set for our lesson. I pull on a wetsuit and slap on the SPF and the excitement from the group is palpable. There are eight of us and we’re all nervous and enthusiastic novices who can’t wait to get in the water.
We’re given a board each (much heavier and bigger than I realised it would be) and we carry (read drag) them down to the sea. The swell is good today, perfect for beginners (so says Shane) and we wade out into the crisp, clear, cool water. Matt Grainger, Manly Surf School coaching director, teaches us about surfers’ etiquette, giving us a demo of how to push the board safely in the water (i.e. don’t walk out behind another surfer if you don’t want to get smashed in the head by a board), and how to jump up onto the surfboard.
The morning lesson is full of fun, sunshine and lots of laughs and Shane and Matt are excellent teachers. After a few false starts and wipeouts I manage to jump up onto my board and ride a wave to the beach. I’m thrilled and can’t wait to brag to my friends back home! When the time comes for lunch (a delicious spread eaten at the picnic table right across from the beach) our instructors struggle to get us out of the water as we’re all having too much fun.
After lunch we keep on surfing well into the afternoon and even though I’m a little sunburnt and sore from all the exercise (it’s a good idea to stretch out your muscles before you hit the beach) I can’t stop smiling. Surfing is exhilarating and so much fun and I can see why so many get up before dawn to catch the perfect wave and I’m all set to book more lessons.
The cost is $99 for the day tour. For day tour enquiries and bookings please call Matt Grainger on 0418 717 313 or visit manlysurfschool.com for more information.