Originating in Hawaii, surfing is the act of riding a breaking wave. This is normally done on a long, light polystyrene and fibreglass surfboard, although some will use the shorter length 'boogie boards'.

Learning to surf requires dedication; getting to grips with the surfboard will be tricky and could take time. That aside, there is much more to learn, including the understanding of waves and weather patterns and their effect on surfing. It might seem daunting but it is well worth it; experienced surfers talk of the exhilaration and sheer joy they feel when catching and riding a wave.

Our waters may be somewhat cooler than the Pacific Ocean, natural home of surfing, but, thankfully, wetsuits ensure Scottish surfers can enjoy this activity close to home.

Who can do it?

Newquay surfer Tom Butler

If you can swim and are comfortable in the sea you can give surfing a go. It is a great activity for children as they can start learning from around age five. There is no upper age limit.

Where can I do it?

There are a number of areas popular amongst surfers, including Aberdeen, Coldingham and Pease Bay on the east coast, Thurso on the north coast and Lewis, Machrihanish and Tiree on the west coast. These are by no means the only surfing spots; there are numerous smaller locations dotted around the coastline as well. Tuition is available from various surfing schools around the country and many equipment hire shops will also offer lessons. These businesses can advise you on the best areas to try locally.

When can I do it?

Newquay surfer Russell Winter

If you can handle the cold, and providing there are waves, surfing is a year round activity.

What equipment do I need?

The basics you will need to hire are a board, wetsuit, surfboard leash, boots and gloves.

How much does it cost?


A beginner's lesson can cost around £30 for up to three hours tuition. The price will often include the hire of the wetsuit. Hiring a board can cost around £20 per day. Lessons will normally take place on weekends (and evenings during the summer months), depending on the waves and weather.

It could take many lessons and numerous years to become a truly proficient surfer, but even when you think you have perfected the art, won't there always be the possibility of a bigger, better wave out there somewhere?

Page first published on Wednesday 13th February 2008
Page last updated on Wednesday 9th July 2008

Your Views

Sam Christopherson (Coast to Coast Surf School)
Can you put Belhaven Bay on the east coast as its actual become one of the most popular places to surf for beginners. Its also a big beach and if new comers to the sport are pointed to this beach it eases crowd tensions on the other beaches of Pease Bay and Coldingham.

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