S SURFING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
You’re in luck. Experienced wave
riders say New Jersey is one of the
best places to catch a wave on the
It’s also a great place to learn. Thanks
to our relatively warm ocean temperatures—the water at the Jersey Shore can
get up to 70 degrees in the summer—it’s
easy to stay in the drink for two to three
hours at a time. That’s plenty of time to
get a good start on surfing.
Summer at the Shore also brings
consistent, small waves—especially in
the morning. (Bigger, bruising waves
tend to hit the Jersey beaches during
the spring, fall and winter months.)
Comfortable water temperatures and
gentler waves are essential while learning the rhythm of surfing, says Shaun
McGrath, founder and one of the owners
of Summertime Surf School in Belmar.
Even in summer, wave heights vary
depending on the weather. It’s worth
checking the surf forecast on sites such
as surfline.com, magicseaweed.com and
thesurfersview.com. McGrath says nov-
ices should look for days when winds are
light and wave heights are 2 feet or less.
A generally calm beach, such as the
Brigantine South Inlet Beach, where
Primal Surf holds its lessons, is ideal
for newbies. Other recommended calm
beaches for beginners include Cape May
and Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.
Staying safe while learning to surf is as
important as catching the perfect wave.
McGrath recommends picking a lifeguarded beach. Surfers should be aware of
riptides, but since surfing keeps you above
the water, they can usually be avoided.
Preparation is important. Novices must
learn how weather affects waves and currents. They also need to focus on reading
the waves. And it helps to be fit, since surfing is a demanding and strenuous sport.
Before picking a place to take the
plunge, be mindful of ongoing beach-replenishment projects, which can add
hazards and change wave patterns.
Experienced surf instructors generally
avoid such areas.
When deciding on a surf school, check
if the instructors are certified by the
National Surf Schools and Instructors
Association ( nssia.org), says Jennifer Stef-fener of the Coastline Adventures Surfing
School in Brick. Certified instructors
are trained to teach the sport, not just to
surf. Also, ask if the instructors are CPR
trained and have lifeguarding experience.
For novice surfers, a comfortable
swimsuit and sunscreen are the essentials. A wetsuit shirt or a sleeveless, legless wetsuit is worth having if the water
is still chilly. Then, of course, there’s
the board. Most schools include use of
a board in the lesson fee. Some also include a wetsuit. Check before you book.
Also check if the school gives refunds in
the event of foul weather.
Here’s a sampling of 13 surf schools up
and down the Jersey coast. Several also
offer lessons in stand-up paddling (SUP).
Aloha Grove Surf Shop and Lessons
One hour lessons. Individual, $70. Semi-
Up for Surfing?
The right school, the right weather and the right
beach are essential for novice wave riders.
By Jacqueline Mroz
NE W WAVE: Summertime
Surf, a wave-riding school with
seven Jersey Shore locations,
o;ers Women’s Surf Weekends
throughout the summer.