With its sandy beach and beach hut-lined promenade, Southwold is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely day by the sea. And, with its local surf school, it’s also the ideal place to cross another water sport off my to-do list.
The ‘vibe’ at Southwold Surf School is just as you’d expect. Easy going, laidback and friendly and this puts it at the heart of the surfing community. With this being said however, it isn’t just for those who already know how to catch a wave. I’ve never surfed before (and am not a massive fan of the sea) – and despite going with someone who had and was – I was still eager to give it a go.
Now in its fourth season, the school offers both a taster 45 minute session, aimed at those who may not be as confident in the water, and a much longer 90 minute lesson, for those who are determined to get the hang of this challenging sport. We opted for the full 90 minute lesson, which was priced at a reasonable £30, and joined 13 others (who were ALL under the age of 16) by the beach hut, before heading over to the sand.
Interested in learning how to catch your first wave? Well the lesson’s structure is pretty straightforward. And pretty efficient too. A lesson is first made up of a 10 to 15 minute land based session on the beach, where the instructors show you how to paddle, get up onto your knees and then finally, how to stand on your board.
The remainder of your lesson is then in the water. And the 90 minutes will fly by. With instructor assistance, we took it in turns to (attempt to) ride the waves, practicing the skills we’d so easily mastered on the sand.
With just over an hour in the water, and with the wind in full force, surfing proved to be a demanding sport. Despite this, it was also a ridiculously enjoyable one to try to master. The feeling of finally getting to your feet is one to definitely savour – if it happens once, it doesn’t mean you’ll achieve it again, trust me.
As with any physical sport, a basic level of fitness is required. However, even as a newcomer, you’re guaranteed to be both supported and encouraged throughout your sessions. At low tide, between April and November, Southwold sees one to three foot waves most days which, alongside the ‘gentle sea breeze’, make the perfect conditions for learning to surf.
After something a little calmer? As well as surf instruction, the highly praised surf school also offers lessons in paddle boarding when the waves are a little more flat. Following a similar structure to surf sessions, these full lessons also last up to one and a half hours, starting with a beach based tuition and then time in the water to put newly learnt skills to the test.