Is It Ever Too Late to Learn to Surf?

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“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

We get this question a lot from prospective guests, and it makes sense, if you consider the deepest thoughts and doubts that we as humans all seem to have. We seem to believe that that there is a prime window of time to have done something — whether that’s learning, performing, or experiencing — and, in true defeatist fashion, many of us tend to think that this time has come and gone. When it comes to surfing, it is important to consider that there is certainly a steep learning curve, and there are many factors involved: including one’s physical condition, expectations, the surf teacher (or lack thereof), and the environment where the learning will take place (aka the beach or surf break). In other words, it may not be easy. But if you ask any of us at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we will all give varying answers with the same conclusion: that it is never too late to learn to surf.

Surfing frustrations

Reigning in those niggling fears and doubts

It’s all about perspective. When I was 12, I realized that I really wished I had taken dance. I had several friends who were into it and it seemed like so much fun. But, at the ripe old age of 12, I decided it was too late for me to start. Why? Because I wouldn’t be as good as my friends, who had been doing it for years (ahh, how this makes me laugh now). A few years later, when I was 19, I started learning how to surf, even though deep down I believed that it was just a little too late for me — after all, there were people my age who had been doing it for years, and who would thus be way better than me. Nevertheless, I decided I didn’t care if I was ever “good” (whatever that means), and to do it anyways. And truly, I didn’t find it easy (nor did my husband, Gibran, who had the great task of teaching me). At moments, we both thought that perhaps I was just unteachable.

Ten years later, I will tell you that surfing has changed my life. In terms of skill level, I am better than some, and I am worse than others. However, the only thing that matters is that I am worlds better than the me from ten years ago, and not just in surf proficiency. In all the hours I’ve logged out in the water, I’ve learned so much: about nature, the ocean, and myself. I’ve developed and grown as a person. I’ve [been] confronted [by] my fears (sometimes violently). Yet surfing has made me more sure, more confident, more physically and mentally fit; more connected to myself, to others, to the planet, and to my wonderful crazy life. I simply cannot imagine who or where I’d be right now if, a mere ten years ago, I had let my doubts or insecurities decide my path forward. It would be a tragedy.

Adrianne surfing Bahia Ballena

Just allow yourself to try

You may do a week of surfing, and never do it again, either because you feel satisfied, or because you don’t really feel it’s for you, or because your life’s path doesn’t go in that direction. You may do a week of surfing, and it changes your life. You move to the ocean, buy your first used surfboard, and start the never-ending journey of being a surfer. You may hate it, you may love it, you may love it and then forget about it as your busy life comes creeping back in. You may be really good, you may be really bad, you may be mediocre — the possibilities are endless. But if learning to surf is something that you now, or at some point in the past, have thought about, considered, felt compelled to try… well then we think you should do it. It is a unique “activity” (if you’ve ever surfed, you know that word just doesn’t encompass the sensation of riding a wave) that is unlike anything else.

All we ask, is that if you do decide to learn, cut yourself some slack. Don’t decide you’ll suck before you even try it. Don’t compare yourself to others, and get embarrassed or disappointed if you progress slower than those in your group. Don’t allow yourself to quit halfway through your Bodhi Sessions week, half-convincing yourself that you don’t really care anyways; you knew you’d be bad, and you were! That you’re too old, you should have done it when you were in your 20s! If you go for it, give it your all. Laugh, have fun, and allow yourself to achieve whatever you’re capable of doing. Surfing is in large part mental, and you will not do yourself or your experience justice if you allow yourself to slide into the pit of negativity. I can tell you with 100% certainty, that the best surfers in the world (whether in skill level, or the ones who enjoy it the most) aren’t necessarily the ones who picked it up quickly and easily. Simply put, it’s the ones who have taken the leap, and who have fallen in love with all that that surfing encompasses.

Learning to surf Bodhi Surf

It’s never too late

We’ve had guests do their very first surf lessons with us at the age of four, and others who decide to do it in their late 60s. I’ve met people in their 70s and even 80s who I know could do it, if it were something they wanted to try and had the opportunity to do. There are a million reasons you could come up with not to, but when you think about the big picture, about how life is short and you should go after the things you want like your survival depends on it… well, it becomes obvious that the answer to the question is NO.

It is never, ever too late to learn to surf (or do anything else you may have a deep desire to try).

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About the author


Adrianne is the fun-and-food-loving socialite of Bodhi Surf + Yoga. If she's not whipping up a feast for Bodhi Surf + Yoga guests, she's probably busy writing for the Bodhi blog or keeping people up-to-date on the goings on via social media!

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