First experiences, especially when they imply a bit (or lots) of adrenaline are the best! Before it starts, you have an idea of how it’s gonna be but once you’re actually doing it, you realise it’s nothing like you’ve imagined and, if you’re lucky, it’s even better! At least, that’s how it was for me, the first time I went surfing. It was in Noosa, Australia. I was backpacking the East Coast for a month (read my recommendations here) and decided it was the perfect time for new experiences… Surfing and Scuba Diving (which you can read my first impressions on here) were first on my list! But let’s start by the beginning…
When it comes to surfing on the East Coast of Australia, you have two best options: Byron Bay or Noosa. I was there in August, which is winter time in Australia, which meant I could have surfed in Byron Bay, but decided to opt for something a bit warmer (I’m just not a fan of hypothermia), so… a bit more North. I had heard Noosa was the best place for beginner surfers. Plus, it has less sharks (not a fan of those either!).
I booked a 2h group lesson with Learn to Surf (I totally recommend it!). When I got to Noosa, after 2 weeks of traveling, I immediately loved it! Especially its gorgeous beach! On the day of the lesson, I had a bit of trouble finding the surf caravan, as it was hidden in the woods next to a more wavy part of the beach. Once I got there, I was lent a wetsuit and a surf board. Now, I knew surfing is easier on bigger board, so I wasn’t expecting something small… I just wasn’t expecting to be that enormous! I actually needed help from the instructors to put it over my hand to carry it to the beach!
Once on the beach, we split up into small groups of 6 people. We put down our boards on the beach and the instructors started telling us about safety things, like how to make sure the waves wouldn’t carry us away. He made it sound a bit tragic, but that actually made us listen carefully, which I guess was a wise thing to do since no one had the intention to die surfing! I mean the ocean IS really powerful! Once the safety talk was over, the instructor started telling us about how to surf (duh!): we laid down on our boards and he showed us how to place our hands and our legs, and how to get on our feet. He then talked about arms position once standing up and the importance of keeping our eyes up on the horizon. We first practiced slowly, then a bit quicker. The instructor was a hard on us, but I guess it was actually good: it helped us give our very best!
The time came to get into the water. We attached our surf boards to our ankle and went to the sea. My first reaction was: “Shoot, that water is cold!”. As we advanced further, I realised how hard it was to move against the waves, making sure my board wouldn’t hit me in the face (‘cause that would be kind of annoying, you know!). For our first turns, the instructor would push us to make sure we caught the wave. Three people went. They were really good. I was impressed. I wasn’t going to be that good. Probably wouldn’t stand on the board… not the first time, maybe not once in the whole 2h… I mean… getting up on a moving unstable board and than staying up… definitely not part of my skills… but I was ready to try my best!
My turn came. The instructor reminded me the main tips, then told me to lie down on the board. I did. Before I realised it, a big wave came and the instructor pushed my board into it. I knew I didn’t have much time but I felt like I had no choice but to follow the instructors’ advice not to rush this. I made sure my hands were flat on the board, bent my left knee, lifted my butt and jumped on my feet. Then, a miracle occured! I was standing on the board. On the floating and moving board. I was surfing! I couldn’t believe it was happening! I was surfing my first wave! And the feeling of it was just… incredible!
My second, third and fourth attempt were not as glorious. I made mistakes like leaning forward too much, not looking to the horizon, which made me fall quickly or, worst, trying to use my knees to stand up, which made it impossible to get on my feet. But after a few falls and a few: “You’re not listening to me Marie-Anne!!” (My name is Lena, but the instructor decided I was Marie-Anne for the day), I understood my mistakes and made it back on the glorious path of actually surfing! That feeling of standing on the board, looking to the horizon and just… well… surf… was amazing! A lot better that I imagined. It kind of felt like flying (according to my opinion of what flying should feel like).
After a while, I started getting cold and one of my ankles started hurting from a bad fall (however, the cold water numbed my foot so it wasn’t that painful… compared to later). However, I wasn’t ready to stop when the lesson came to an end. I got the chance to surf one last wave. And of course, it turned out to be my best one: I surfed all the way to the beach. I was sad it was ending, but at least, it was a happy ending! I made sure to take a picture with my gigantic surf board (which you can see at the end of this article) and changed into dry clothes, warming myself in my big hoodie. After saying goodbye to my instructor and making plans on maybe going for drinks later that week, I sat on the beach to enjoy a wonderful Noosa sunset, both excited and exhausted by my wonderful afternoon of surf. My ankle started hurting more (and it did for the next 2 days) but I knew it was probably one of my most worth it injury ever. On that evening, on Noosa beach, I was sure of one thing: I had to surf again… as soon as possible!