8 Reasons Why Surfing Is Difficult

Alright, raise a hand if you've seen probably one of the coolest surfing movies ever made, Blue Crush. It was crushing the Hollywood waves when Kate Bosworth teamed up with Michelle Rodriguez of the Fast and Furious franchise and Sanoe Lake, who is also a real-life surfer.

They showed us heart, determination, the joys of surfing but also the difficulties that come with it. Surfing, for some, must be one of the most challenging sports there is. 

Surf's Up

People probably assume that surfing is a young sport because it looks like it, but to be fair, the first ever record of this sport was on a cave painting in Polynesia dating back to the 12th Century.

It's older than basketball if you think about it. The voyages of the Polynesian people brought surfing to the Islands of Hawaii, and there it took a whole life of its own.

The locals of Hawaii did not only view surfing as a sport or pastime, but they integrated it into their culture and religious rituals. As more and more interest in the beautiful Islands of Hawaii arose, there also came the interest in what the locals were doing, surfing included, which propelled its popularity when the colonials, foreigners, and tourists flocked to the Hawaiian beaches. 

Surfing Terminologies, You Need to Know

Nobody wants to be wiped out when it comes to Surfing, the real ocean waves surfing, and not the digital kind. But before you jump in the water and have fun with the waves, here are some terms you might encounter along the way that you might need to take to heart.

First is wipeout; as any newbie to surfing, you will get to hear this a lot. A wipeout happens when a surfer falls off of his/her surfboard and into the crashing waves. Pocket is the area in the waves where surfers like to catch and ride.

Thruster is the three-fin design of a surfboard popularized by Simon Anderson, an Australian surfer back in the 80s.

Kook is any surfer who intends to endanger other surfers intentionally or unintentionally.

Leggie is your lifeline. It is the cord that connects a surfer to his/her board. Getting skunked is a term used by surfers when there are no waves in the ocean ready to be surfed. 

What Makes Surfing Difficult

Here comes the juicy part: if surfing isn't exactly an old sport and has been part of a lovely culture. Why is it considered hard, then? Here are some of the reasons why surfing is difficult:

1. You need a great deal of strength and power

If you intend to really learn and be able to surf and have tried surfing lessons that are packaged for tourists, you probably know how tiring and intense it is. You might need to paddle for hours and not be able to get a wave to ride.

You will also need some strength in your core to be able to pop up and surf the wave you find. Then, there is the balancing on the board using your lower extremities.

So, yeah surfing is difficult because you need a lot of strength to do it, and if you're not the physical and outdoorsy type better think twice. 

2. Surfing takes up a lot of your time

If you think that surfing is just a pastime you can probably take when you go visit a famous beach, then you are probably correct. However, you need to consider that you might not properly learn this sport immediately in a few hours or even a few days. Be prepared to spend time on the beach away from family, work, and maybe friends. 

3. It requires patience, patience, and a lot of patience

Patience in learning any sport is needed, but unlike other sports out there, surfing heavily relies on the unpredictable nature of waves in the ocean. Sometimes, the fine weather affects the entire sport itself. If the weather is too fine, there might be no waves, and if the weather is too harsh, the big waves will be too dangerous to ride out. 

4. Shark attacks and drowning are part of this sport

Apart from being a sport that heavily relies on the unpredictability of nature, it also is part of nature itself. The probability that a shark attack could happen is extremely high, as most movies related to sharks often showcase a surfer or a group of surfers being run down and ravaged by a shark.

About 70 to 100 shark attacks are recorded annually. Of course, the most obvious conflict in the sport is the chance of drowning. There are as many as 10 recorded deaths caused by drowning incidents in surfing.

Sometimes, the sports that seem calm on the surface are more dangerous than the real rowdy ones; not counting out the real hard-hitting contact sports, there are the dangerous ones. 

5. Surfing can be lonesome and yet it can also get too crowded

Although surfing seems to be a sport that is seen being done by so many people nowadays, especially on popular beaches with choice waves, there are still some moments when a surfer is alone in the vast ocean surfing the waves. Hence, surfing can be a double-edged sword where one has to learn to surf alongside other people or surf completely alone and undisturbed. 

6. Surfing is expensive 

Be ready to spend a little bit of dough. Surfing needs proper equipment like a surfboard, a wetsuit, a leg grope, and other accessories, which can cost from $800 to $3000 cumulatively upfront depending on where you buy them and for what season you're buying them, then, of course, there is the maintenance of this equipment.

Not to mention the amount of money you’ll have to spend traveling from your home to the nearest beach unless, of course, you move in and live near the beach, okay, so maybe surfing is not the most expensive sport, but it still fetches a hefty sum, especially if you do it by the book. 

7. You can get lost in the vast oceans

Apart from sharks and drowning, you can seriously get lost and get carried away by rough waves to the far reaches of the sea. This especially happens when you’re surfing during a storm or a weather disturbance. 

8. You can get caught in the drama of surfing cultures

If you intend to learn surfing, you are bound to encounter some surfing cultures that may be a bit too much for you. An example is the so-called surfing localism, where outsiders must give way to the locals. 


Truly, surfing is not for the faint of heart nor the impatient ones but is meant for those whose passion and life align with the very sport itself. It is hard to imagine a person from the mountains and all its culture trying to go down to the beach and surf for the sake of fun. But hey, there is always room for surprises, and you might just be the exemption.

Oliver Jones

Written by Oliver Jones

I'm a dedicated surfer and writer, and my heart truly belongs to the ocean. Surfing is not just a sport but a way of life for me. I ride the waves in the water and on paper, pouring my passion into every word I write.

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