It goes without saying that there are some common misconceptions and myths about just about everything under the sun and over the sea. Speaking of sun and sea, there are quite a few about surfing, whether it be about who can surf and where you can surf.
But what’s really fact and what’s fiction about surfing?
1. Summertime sport
In a lot of countries, especially in the colder regions, surfing is considered a sport in the summer. It’s not really that surprising, considering how most people will associate surfing with sunny weather and fun in the sun.
Others may even ask what activities you end up doing in the autumn or winter when it’s not good to surf. However, a lot of people consider winter to be an ideal surfing season.
There are way less crowds compared to hotter periods. Of course, you would need to invest in some proper equipment like a wetsuit, hood, gloves, and boots, as well as thick clothing like jackets, mittens, hats, and socks to wear when you get out of the freezing waters.
But, if you can deal with the cold weather, the experience can be worth the trouble. There’s also the option of going to a nearby warmer country if these aren’t your ideal conditions.
2. Too old to surf
Let’s face it - when you think ‘surfers,’ the people that come to mind are bodacious babes and beefy blondes carrying their boards. A lot of people think that surfing is for the young and fun, believing that older people might injure themselves.
Another thing is that they may be unable to withstand the power of the sea if they don’t have strong enough musculature. But no!
People, young and old, can surf. If a child can do it, it means that they only need the right technique to enjoy a good wave. In fact, if a 90-plus-year-old like Nancy Meherne, who is likely the most elderly surfer in New Zealand, can get in on the action, there’s no reason why anyone else wouldn’t be able to have some fun, too.
If you’ve got the passion and the heart, that’s all it takes to fall in love with surfing for a lifetime. Sure, it may be easier to learn if you had started surfing young, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a cool trick or two in your golden years.
It’s even a great source of physical exercise and helps keep people in touch with nature, two things needed for good health and a fulfilling life.
3. Lazy bums
Along with the picturesque surfing scenery comes the perception of a perfect getaway and vacation.
Soaking up rays while lying on the beach and getting up to catch a wave: Don’t these guys have anything better to do? Do they even have a day job?
A lot of the cultural outlook on surfing, in general, originates from how surfing was actually a counter-culture phenomenon from its inception, a way to break from the mold and live a carefree lifestyle.
Surfing hasn’t lost its freedom-loving origins. But, nowadays, most people who surf have rich lives outside of surfing, and many enthusiasts are professionals in their own fields who surf only in their free time to unwind from the stress of life.
If you’re good enough, you can even become a professional surfer! Just like with any other sport, there are a ton of surfing enthusiasts out there watching their favorite surf athletes take to the waters and compete in tournaments such as the Challenger Series and the Big Wave Challenge.
Official organizations such as WSL (World Surf League) and the ISA (International Surf League) host and govern such events and the officially recognized surfing competitors within them.
4. It’s easy
If you’re one of those people who believes that surfing is easy, then you better listen up. Just like any sport or hobby, you simply can’t just learn to surf in a day. Heck, even a day probably isn’t enough to get you on the board yet.
Even surfing instructors have realized that you can’t just overwhelm a new learner with everything from the get-go. They’ve actually adopted a method of having prospective surfers learn one basic skill at a time and progressively acclimating to the board and water.
From there, it’s all about practice, which will probably take a lifetime of dedication and passion. This should also be coupled with an ever-growing pool of first-hand experience with the environment and the ocean.
5. Shark bait
There will inevitably be some environmental factors when it comes to surfing. You have to watch out for any potential dangers, but one of the most commonly brought up is the danger of man-eating sharks.
Popular media has definitely had a part to play in the sensationalized idea that a Great White could appear at any moment, ready to bite off the leg of an unsuspecting surfer. But before you worry about getting chomped by a hungry predator lurking in the depths, it would be good to know that you have a one in 3.75 million chance of this happening.
You’d have a better chance of buying a ticket to a lottery and winning. Though there have been some high-coverage pieces in the news about a shark attack on a surfer, looking into it will show you that this rarely ever happens.
Location is also important to consider, as places like the capes of Africa may have a higher percentage of risky creatures in the waters. Otherwise, you don’t have to worry about anything trying to bite you while you’re surfing.
6. Crowd surfing
In many areas of life - though in this case, it’s surfing - you don’t always have to follow the crowd. In very popular tourist spots and beaches, there will be swathes of people going to this and that part of the shore to catch a wave.
However, just because most people are in a certain spot doesn’t mean it’ll even be that good. Newcomers will be especially nervous about trying an unoccupied spot in the water, even if they think it looks spectacular.
But that’s just how you might find a hidden gem! And anyway, it may be more fun to strike out on your own and try something new, rather than waiting a long line to ride a peak or having hundreds of people on the same pipe, like in the Gold Coast.
Of course, you still need to keep an eye out for any potential dangers and keep your skill level in mind to stay safe. But otherwise, try something new!
7. Perfect locations
Some think that California, Australia, and other hot, sea-steeped areas are the only places you can surf. It’s Hawaii or bust if you want the best location to surf. But even very cold countries have places where you can catch some waves. As long as there’s a coastline, you can feasibly work with it and try to catch some waves.
You don’t necessarily need the biggest surfing waves to enjoy your time in the water, and perhaps your favorite surfing spot will be the one that most people don’t even go to. There are even some places where you don’t need the sea at all!
Places like Lake Michigan are known for hosting surfers in the fall and winter, and surfers in Munich can find a wave in the Eisbach River, which has become one of their most famous tourist attractions and activities.