Surfing isn’t as easy as movies like Blue Crush or Point Break make it seem. I know this first hand. It’s so challenging that I put it on my bucket list because I really wanted to learn to surf. So when I stumbled upon a trip to Hawaii, I figured why not try learning to surf in Waikiki.
After about 10 days of my vacation I had already done most of what Waikiki had to offer – and to be honest, I was starting to get a bit bored of the same old tourist thing. I asked Steph, my wonderful friend and gracious hostess, if she knew of anywhere that was good at teaching surfing. She immediately pointed me in the direction of the Hans Hedemann Surf School across the street from her work at the Honolulu Zoo. I made a booking for the following afternoon and started psyching myself up.
This was to be attempt number 2 at surfing. While traveling along the Nullabor Plains with Nullarbor Traveller, I had the opportunity to have a 3hour surf lesson. It was extremely flat, and I just could not get the coordination down pat. I had made a few pitiful attempts with friends while living in New Zealand, but never really managed to stand up. When it came to my confidence towards my surfing abilities, I pretty much had none. Needless to say I was looking forward to learning to surf in Waikiki.
I walked into the surf shop on a Thursday afternoon, and met the lovely staff. I was instructed to choose a rash guard and a pair of surf shoes. Before long, we were joined by our instructor – a short, Hawaiian man named Kevin. Kevin cleared a space in the middle of the store and dragged out a reclining lounge chair. He placed a massive longboard surfboard on top of the lounge chair and lay down on top of it, on his belly.
“Listen up! There are 5 main steps in order for you to stand up on your surfboard.”
We all took mental notes.
1: Lay flat on your belly and place your hands on either side of your chest, like a push up.
2. While in a push up position, rise up till you’re on your knees.
3. Slide your knees up to your hands.
4. Place your front foot in between your two hands.
5. Pop up to a standing position, keep your knees bent.
I had remembered these simple steps from my previous surf lesson, and when we had to do a run-through in the shop, I nailed it.
“Okay!” Kevin said once we all had a go at trying to stand up on the longboard in the shop. “Get a partner, grab a board (one at the front, one at the back)… let’s go to the beach!”
We crossed the road and made our way to Waikiki Beach and made our way into the water, and paddled out 200m from shore. Kevin told my group – which consisted of me, a Japanese girl and two Japanese guys – that he would help each of us stand up on the first try.
I couldn’t help but think that was quite a big statement on his part. And since I had already attempted surfing before, I had very little faith in my own abilities.
As I laid on my stomach and watched Kevin push the Japanese girl on her surfboard towards shore with an incoming wave, I saw her easily pop to her feet. ‘Oh great! I’m going to be the Amazon girl who can’t stand up, while all these swift Japanese with their cat-like reflexes are going to be surfing circles around me.’
“Melissa – It’s your turn. Just lay on your stomach with your arms in the push up position. Take it slow… and….” Kevin pushed my surfboard towards shore, “…stand up!”
I ran through the steps in my head as I cautiously and methodically rose to my fee
‘Holy crap!!! I’m standing!!! I’M SURFING!!!’ I thought as I hooted and hollered before I went crashing down into the water.
For the next two hours I stood up,and fell off the board back into the water countless times. And while I was not nearly as graceful as my Japanese counterparts – I didn’t spring up to a standing position with the elegance and sportsmanship of a professional surfer – I stood, damn it! And on the first try!
A big thank you goes out to James at Hans Hedemann Surf School for giving me the kamaaina discount, providing me with these awesome photos and helping me cross off bucket list item number 72 –Surf in Hawaii! If you want to try learning to surf in Waikiki, check them out, they’re awesome!
DISCLAIMER: While I was provided with a discount, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.