Let’s see…Teahupoo, Pipeline, Mavericks—just kidding! For those just starting out on the wonderful journey that is surfing, soft, forgiving waves are the go—preferably over sand. The last thing you want to deal with when you are trying to figure out how to paddle, maneuver, and eventually surf an unwieldy hunk of fiberglass is a large, hollow, violent wave breaking over razor-sharp reef. A dearth of fellow surfers in the lineup is a plus as well, but with so many people learning to surf in this day and age, it’s pretty hard to find an uncrowded “beginner” wave. The trick is to get up early and score the dawn patrol while the rest of the slackers in town sleep off their hangover from the night before. (That’s lesson number one!)

If you are on a mission to learn to surf and looking for the perfect wave to score that first ride, here is a list of waves that cater specifically to beginners.

  1. Canoes, Waikiki: Forget the fact that this wave is steeped in history, or that there are virtually unlimited surf lessons and board rentals available—Waikiki is the perfect beginner wave because it rolls, soft and forgiving, from takeoff to shorebreak. Essentially a straighthander, this is the perfect wave to learn how to stand up on a board—and as an added bonus, it breaks in warm water!
  2. Old Man’s, San Onofre: Another wave of historical note—though breaking in somewhat colder water—San O’s is the Waikiki of Southern California. User-friendly waves break in front of a family-friendly beach complete with volleyball nets, bon fire pits, and the best beach vibe in the Golden State.
  3. Noosa, Queensland: Although the points in Noosa are frequented by some of the best longboarders in the world, they are also a great place to learn how to surf—after all, what’s easier than a perfectly symmetrical waist-high point peeling into infinity?
  4. Bondi Beach: Not necessarily the best wave in the world—or even the best beginner wave—Bondi is, nonetheless, one of the most popular places on the planet to learn how to surf. In the heart of Sydney, with an active party scene, surf lessons and rentals galore, and more nightlife than you can shake a stick at, Bondi is a standing-room only circus tent filled with frothing backpackers—all of whom are ready to live their Endless Summer fantasy.
  5. Cherating, Malaysia: The capital of the South East Asia surf scene, Cherating is a long, user-friendly sand-bottom lefthand point with rental boards and lessons available, and year-round water temps of more than 80 degrees F.
  6. Sayulita, Mexico: A soft righthand point break near Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita has a well-established surf scene, boards and lessons available, pleasantly warm water, and the perfect lineup for the beginning surfer.
  7. Scorpion Bay, Baja Sur: Who are we kidding? This mythical series of righthand points is the perfect surf spot for everyone—from rank beginner to top-ranked pro.