Surfing has a laid-back reputation, but if you hit the waves without knowing what you’re doing, things could get uptight.

“The biggest thing you learn in lessons is how to play safe — how to not endanger yourself or others,” says Caralee Murphy, co-owner of One Life Surf at Lawrencetown Beach, HRM. “It’s really obvious when people jump in the ocean with a board and a wetsuit and they’ve had no instructions.”

Murphy offers lessons to adults of all ages and experiences. Most are out for the first time, but some have surfed for a while and haven’t got the hang-ten of it.

“It’s a dangerous sport and if you don’t know how to do it, you endanger yourself and other people,” she says.

The three-hour tour covers surf safety, surf etiquette and the rules of the water. Even first-timers then get a chance to catch a wave.

Keith Clark owns Happy Dudes Surf Emporium, which offers lessons on Lawrencetown and Martinique beaches along with a few other hidden gems around HRM.

“There’s a lot of little tricks,” says Clark, who has been surfing for 25 years and offering lessons for 15. Unlike snowboarding, your feet aren’t nailed to the board, so a good instructor will teach you how to position yourself on the board and how to enter the water.

Happy Dudes starts with an hour in the shop watching videos and discussing the basics of surfing. After getting fitted with the appropriate gear, students head to the beach for a safety brief. The instructor shows them how to paddle, catch a wave and dismount the board.

“Once we get past that phase, we get them to try and catch a wave on their own,” he says.
“If they stand up, that’s great. If they don’t, try it again. You can’t teach them that.”

You need to be in decent shape to surf and people who do yoga will fit right in, because much of surfing relies on balance and core strength.

“I tell people 50 per cent of it is a person’s condition and 50 per cent is the condition of the surf,” he says.

For a list of other places to learn how to surf and lots of general surfing information, go to Scotia Surfer’s website at www.scotiasurfer.com, or www.happydudes.ca and www.onelifesurf.com.