Since the days of watching movies like ‘Blue Crush’ or ‘Surf’s Up,” we have always wanted to experience the rush of catching that perfect wave and letting it carry us away. But for the beauty of such moments, surfing is a journey that requires patience and practice. We learned that right away from the start, experiencing balance and exhaustion. On top of that nosediving and getting a mouth full of seawater is all part of the thrill. We discovered our limits and pursued the wonder of waves with ‘Lets Go Surfing” in Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Lets Go Surfing Bondi: Where Passion Pursues Pleasure
Co-founders Brenda Miley and Craig Wachholz lead a team of passionate instructors at Lets Go Surfing which started from a van back in 1995. Today, Lets Go Surfing has grown to become a licensed Surf School famous on Bondi Beach. Voted as one of Sydney’s top three tourist activities (umm….wow!) the school prides itself on hand-picking the best coaches both locally and internationally. From experience, the instructors that we got were fantastic sharing their surfing knowledge and making the experience a whole lot better (not to mention safer!).
One really cool thing about Lets Go Surfing is its ties to the local community. Working together, the group plays an active role with initiatives including: free surf-education programs for residents and disadvantaged groups, supporting Bondi’s Norman Andrews House for people facing homelessness and working with the state government to keep the beauty and pristine beach area looking its best.
Surfing in Bondi: Get Up to Fall Down
We approached the slanted street that led to the little entrance of the surf shop. In the distance, you can hear the repetitive sounds of waves cascading along the beach. It was a cool winter day during the week and we were already wearing our sweaters. “We are either going to freeze or… freeze,” we kept telling ourselves as we saw a shirtless man carry his board down the beach. We both had dreamed of surfing for so long so there was no turning back now.
Along the eastern edge of Bondi beach you will find their little shop next to a cafe. Lets Go Surfing is a fantastic one-stop surfing shop (say that five times without smiling), and a popular destination for anyone looking to try surfing in Australia. Whether you are a beginner (like us) or already have experience with waves, the team offers a wide range of services and rentals for all ages.
Sign Your Life Away (and Have the Best Time)
The journey starts as soon as you enter. Enthusiastic, smiling hosts welcome you inside where you are kindly asked to sign a safety waiver identifying any medical history that the team should be aware of. You meet your instructor (or instructors) who greet you and then hand you over a wetsuit and rash vest during cold weather like we had. Our instructors Dom and Ariana (at the time of this review), mentioned the wetsuit is an adventure on its own and they weren’t lying. After pulling and tugging your way inside, with all the curse words out of your system, you coat yourself in sunscreen and zinc and follow your instructors outside for a quick overview.
Getting To Know The Waves
Usually, you will be combined with other students learning to surf that same day. As a group, everyone gathers in a circle taking in the beautiful beach and getting to know one another. You will be asked to share your goal for the lesson and no, “not dying…” is not a goal. From there, the instructors divide the group based on who wants to achieve what (standing, knees up, yoga poses, avoiding death etc.).
Holy Crap That’s Cold!
Once the meet n’ greet is complete, you make your way down to the beach and into the “batcave,” where your instructor partners you with a board to match your size. They also show you how to carry the board by the tail as the wind loves to creep up and toss the board from under.
Our instructor Dom, quickly went over a few of the obstacles to watch out for when surfing – people and rips. Rips are areas where the water pulls back into the ocean/sea along the beach after the wave disperses which can be an extremely, strong pull. Dom showed us how those rips carve out deep pits under the water and how to spot one. Safety first, ladies and gentlemen
After the safety instructions, Dom showed how to get on the surfboard when catching a wave. After the demo, we were all challenged to catch a wave and ride the board on our bellies to get a feel for the balance required. We all grabbed our boards and headed in. With that first toe touching the icy water and the hair standing up on the back of our necks, the adrenaline kicked in.
It’s a bit scary the first time you walk out towards the waves and see them crashing down. If you ever try surfing, don’t be misconceived by the height of waves. In this case “size doesn’t matter,” as even the small waves have a big punch to them. The first couple of tries got us nothing but mouthfuls of seawater as Dom smiled mentioning the famous “nosedive” everyone delivers as a result of too much weight on the front of the board. But after a few attempts (and with Dom’s help), we managed to catch a wave and enjoyed it taking us on a speedy run.
A Balancing Act
Now neither of us have ever experienced surfing so we can be as honest as it gets here. At the beginning, we laughed as we considered that surfing gets you nowhere — as William Finnegan puts it. They give you a board, you paddle out, you sprint for a wave (after waiting for a while), you ride it shorewards … and repeat. The sessions last hours but the rides only seconds.
After some time, the body starts aching from the repetition so we all took a break back on the beach. Dom explained a few pointers and a little history of the area and then presented the next challenge of standing on the board. Cue scary, thrilling music now…
After standing effortlessly on the beach and noting which foot to kick off from, we pushed back to the beautiful, blue water. The wind had picked up and the waves began crashing more frequently. We thought the body balancing act was tough until we tried standing. Dom mentioned that it may seem easy when on the beach but when you are in the water, you forget which foot is which. The first few attempts made us look like clowns trying to balance on yoga balls with the attempt resulting in funny flips and nosedives.
Surfing in Bondi: Simply Amazing
As we were coming to the end of our lesson, we were eager to stand at least once. Dedicated and driven, we managed to surprise ourselves and stretch our legs for a few seconds. Impressive considering that our goal was not to die. Eve even managed to ride a wave right to the shore before calling it a day.
After dropping our boards back and wriggling out of our wetsuits we returned to land with big smiles on our faces. During your lesson, there is a photographer that captures some really stunning (and humorous) photos of your lesson that you can download and purchase from the shop which is a rewarding way to capture the exciting memories of the day.
Blog by: ROB AND EVE