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Surfing US(L)A: Best Surf Lessons for Locals & Visitors

Surfing US(L)A: Best Surf Lessons for Locals & Visitors

Picture of Clark Harding
Updated: 9 February 2017
The 4th of July has come and gone already, which means it is officially summer in Los Angeles. The weather is pathologically sunny with a chance of global warming, which is perfect for beach-going activities. And whether you live here or are just visiting, it is time to do the one thing you’ve been meaning to for a long time: take surfing lessons. And whether you live here or are just visiting, it is time to do the one thing you’ve been meaning to for a long time: take surfing lessons.

Surfing is the Beach Boys fantasy of Southern California. The name Los Angeles alone evokes classic surf movie imagery of tanned blondes catching waves. With so many options, conditions and places to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to make sure you optimize your joy. Here are Culture Trip LA’s favorite places to take lessons, for both local Angelenos and visitors.

For Locals: Zuma Surf and Swim (Venice location)

One of the highest-rated training programs in Los Angeles, Zuma Surf and Swim (ZSAS) has a roster of surfing veterans with over 30 years of experience. These guys grew up on California beaches, learned on these waves…and probably taught all the other surfers out on the water that day. “Most of my students are locals,” surf instructor Colin says. Colin is exactly everything you’d want in an instructor: salt-soaked bleached hair, a fit body, the patience of a kindergarten teacher (with a Master’s degree) and the personality of a Shakespearian sprite. Colin is also an “ocean activist,” so you’ll learn more about marine ecosystems than you’d expect while waiting for a wave. “Most of my students are also return students,” he says. “I’ll be out surfing on my off time and I’ll totally bump into former students who are now surfing on their own, and I’m like, ‘Yes!’’

For Visitors: Learn To Surf LA (Santa Monica location)

If you have limited time to explore Los Angeles, taking lessons with these guys is ideal. Right alongside the famous Santa Monica pier, when you stand up for the first time on your board you will have a beautiful view of the Ferris wheel. The beach itself is a landmark and destination, so why not use it to the fullest? “This location offers good ‘beach break,’” Reed, an instructor who has been surfing since he was ten, explains. Which is apparently great for beginners. “I really admire my students,” he adds. “Most of them are from out of state and have not spent much time near the ocean. They are so brave to come out here.” Quiet and stoic, Reed will stare intensely at the horizon, studying each wave to make sure the one you catch is just right.

By Clark Harding