While there are many dangers involved in surfing, it’s not the most extreme sport — think mountaineering, base jumping, boxing, or rugby. So yes, there are risks, but there’s also hope! In this article, we will uncover not only what the dangers of surfing are, but how we can stay safe, and why experienced surfers keep going back for more.
My name is Carly Stoenner, and I myself am a life-long surfer from Southern California and have never suffered a surf-related injury (knock on wood). I use shortboards, longboards, funboards, and foam boards and began driving to the beach by myself as soon as I turned 16.
Since then, I was the Lead Surf Instructor for UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, and a Lead Guide for Rustic Pathways Surf and Service Costa Rican programs, ensuring the safety of hundreds and hundreds of students (of all ages) throughout my lifetime. In addition to surf instruction I’ve also led ocean classes for sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and even windsurfing, requiring a deep understanding of how to keep my clients safe on the water.
Here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we pride ourselves on teaching you the tools to keep yourself safe out in the water too. Finding a reputable surf school to teach you the safety essentials truly makes this a safer sport for everyone.
So let’s discuss what makes the ocean dangerous, what wildlife threats there are, and what tips and skills do we need in order to play safely. Finally, we will determine if surfing really is worth the risk.
Is the ocean dangerous? Yes! The ocean can be a dangerous place for beginners due to constantly evolving wave conditions.
For example, a beginner surfer might go to the same beach two days in a row, and on the first day, they find waves perfectly suitable for their skill level. The next day, however, they might find howling winds, waves twice the size, and the tide too low, exposing rocks that were underwater the day prior.
The ocean is an environment that is constantly changing, so learning how to assess the surf conditions and learning to read a surf report is crucial to staying safe.
Surfers can easily look up this information on reliable surf report websites such as Magic Seaweed, but the conditions are always in flux, so it’s important to learn to “read” the ocean conditions upon arriving at the beach.
At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we begin each surf lesson with a detailed explanation of the key components of a “surf report”: wave size, tide, weather, and potential hazards.
So, what to look for:
Always ask locals about potential hazards as they can be hard to spot at first glance. One simple way to avoid hazards is to simply keep away from rocks, other surfers, swimmers, and structures. Choose sandy beaches where surfers can easily spread out.
Many people ask me, “but aren’t you scared of sharks?” This fear of what is swimming underneath is a common one. (Truth be told, I think of crocodiles more than sharks).
Even advanced and professional surfers have to be aware of dangerous wildlife, as there are a few types of wildlife that can pose a very real risk to surfers and beach-goers.
Like any “extreme sport,” injuries will be common if you do not know how to be preventative. Never fear, we have some helpful hints to share to stay safe.
Is surfing scary? It can be! But, despite those previously mentioned dangers, with a little know-how and perhaps the right surf instructors (wink wink), we can minimize them.
Here we will discuss the safety tips and skills needed to make surfing less dangerous for beginners.
It’s important to remember that surfing is an activity that benefits from some level of physical fitness. Similar to any other sport, such as training for a triathlon, surfers, and swimmers alike can start by swimming short distances, and then slowly build their skills over time.
I recommend starting your surf journey by complimenting your time in the water with physical activity at home.
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