How to prepare for your first Surf Lesson

Before heading out to your first HOKALI surf lesson, it’s important to prepare for a great day ahead!

Here are some easy tips and suggestions to make the most out of your first surf lesson!

WHAT TO BRING to your first surf lesson

You may not know what to bring to your session, and that’s OK! Here is a list of some important things to keep in your beach bag!

The Essentials

This category is for things any surfer should bring to the beach, beginner or not!

Girls drinking water before a surf lesson


Dehydration is one of the worst things you can run into while surfing. Dehydration can cause a plummet in performance, weakened cognitive ability in judging and reaction time, cramps, and fatigue.

We all want to perform our best while out surfing, so it’s important to bring along water to drink before and after your lesson. You can’t drink water while out in the ocean, so make sure to hydrate before going out.

Drinking around 18+ ounces of water 2-3 hours before going out into the water is ideal. Double the amount if it’s super super hot.

Replacing the water you’ve lost afterward is just as critical as drinking water beforehand!


Rash-guards are a great piece to wear while surfing.

They provide a layer of protection from UV Rays that come from the sun. Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburns and rashes. In addition, it prevents board rash, which are abrasions on the skin caused by the friction between your skin and the wax on your board.

Making sure that you are comfortable during your first surf lesson is one of the key elements to a great time in the water.

Extra change of clothes and a Towel

After your surf lesson, you won’t want to go home in soaking wet clothes. Bring along a set of loose, comfortable clothes to change into, and a towel to dry off with.

You can also use this towel as a cover-up while changing at the beach, or in the beach parking lot. Along with this, bring a plastic bag to store your wet swimsuit.

I usually bring along a thin shirt, and a pair of athletic shorts to wear after going out surfing!

Surfers having some fun in the water


We all know the phrase “the more, the merrier”, the same goes for surfing!

Learning to surf with friends is an amazing experience. It’s super fun to laugh and see each other improve at surfing together!

Just remember to refrain from bringing large groups to your surf spot, to avoid taking up all the space in the surf lineup, and overworking your surf instructor.

A Great Attitude

No one wants to surf with a bad attitude!

Surfing is exciting, and something to look forward to!

If you do run into a bad mood before, or during your surf lesson, take a short break to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and let go of the negative mindset that’s keeping you from a great surf lesson!

To read more about staying positive while surfing, click here!


Now that we’ve gone over some things that are important to bring, here is a list of things that are not advised to bring along with you!

Valuable Accessories

Wedding rings, diamond earrings, glasses, and heirloom necklaces are all things that you don’t want to lose to the bottom of the ocean floor.

These pieces will likely fall off of your body while falling off of a wave. Don’t let losing your jewelry ruin your perfect surf lesson!

Cameras & Other Electronic Devices

Go-Pros, cameras, watches, and other valuable electronics are all things that are often lost or ruined while out in the water.

You don’t want water and sand in your cameras and phones, leave them onshore or at home!

Covered Shoes/water shoes

You want to feel the sand on your feet, and make sure that you’re able to kick your feet while swimming.

When wearing covered shoes, sand can get into your shoes and cause blisters and make your surf lesson extremely uncomfortable. If you do decide to wear covered shoes, wear kicks that are made to wear in the water!

Make-up & perfume

Both make-up and perfume are bad for the ocean and the creatures in it, and unnecessary to have on. It will run off during your session, no need to put it on.



Surf etiquette is one of the most important things to know while out in the water. Not observing these can result in major injuries and some dirty looks from other surfers.

Here are some of the most important surfing etiquette rules to know:

Surfers riding a wave

Respect the regulars

Many of the surfers out in the water have gone to that spot every day for years. Give respect and stay friendly with the locals.

Make a good impression in case you want to come back to that same spot in the future

Apologize and be courteous

There is a chance that you might run into, or hit someone while surfing. It is not uncommon for beginners, as it might be difficult to turn the board away while heading towards someone on a wave.

If an accident like this does happen, apologize and attempt to resolve the issue. An apology can go a long way!

Right of Way

Make sure to learn about wave priority, and right of way while surfing! Let those who have been waiting the longest for a wave go before you, and don’t hog the waves. Ask your instructor about wave priority, and communication while surfing!

Surfing is an exciting sport, but save some fun for the others!

To learn more about surf etiquette, click here!


Before you head out, you will most likely go over the term “regular or goofy” with your instructor. This refers to your riding stance when standing up on your surfboard.

The Regular Stance is where your left leg is in front, and the right leg is on the back of the board. This is the most common riding stance. Goofy Stance is the opposite, right foot in the front, and left leg in the back.

Your dominant leg will be in the back, and your non-dominant foot will be in the front.

If you’re not sure which foot is dominant, here are a few ways to determine that:

Act as if you’re kicking a soccer ball

Whichever foot you instinctively kick with is most likely your dominant foot.

Have someone push you from behind

Stand up straight, and have a friend gently push you from behind. As you are falling forward, whichever foot you put forward to save yourself from falling is most likely your dominant foot.

If you’re still not sure which foot is dominant, with your instructor, practice standing up on your board with both stances to see which one is more comfortable!

surf slang


The most important thing you can do to prepare for your surf lesson is to expect lots of fun!

Surfing is arguably the most fun sport out there, so why not take advantage of it!

Your surf instructor will lead you through an amazing surf lesson. We hope you have an incredible time!

For even more tips on how to prepare for your first surf lesson, check out this HOKALI article!

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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