Why You Need to Learn to Surf in Sayulita
The Riviera Nayarit boasts plenty of surfer-friendly beaches. However if you are just learning to surf some are better than others. Sayulita is small beach town located 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. In recent years this sleepy fishing village in the Riviera Nayarit has transformed into a mecca for those eager to learn to surf. Sayulita offers great waves, without too much swell, making it an ideal spot to catch your first wave.
There are many local surf schools to choose from. We signed up for a lesson on the first day of our vacation with the Luna Azul Surf School. We knew if we got hooked, we’d want to go back for more during the week. You will find Luna Azul located right next to Don Pedro’s Restaurant on the beach. It is a nice little shop with bathrooms, changing rooms, lockers and a few things for sale. They provide you with a beginner rash guards to make it easy for the instructors to keep track of you in the water.
After everyone was given a board, it was out to the beach for some dry-land training. It is imperative to master the art of the pop-up before you paddle out for the first time. This involves going from the push-up position into your surfer stance in one fluid motion. It takes some work to get comfortable with this so you’ll need practice it several times before getting into the ocean.
It is also important to figure out which foot to throw forward when you stand up on a wave. The instructors will help you determine which way you will ride – regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward). You’ll also work on perfecting falling. It is inevitable and you need to know how to do it correctly so you don’t get hurt. Your first surfing experience will go a lot better if you get all this down before you enter the water.
Equipped with basic surfing knowledge, we headed out to the beginner section of Sayulita Beach. This is located at the southern end of the beach where it is shallow and has slow rolling waves. After a few last minute tips and words of encouragement, it was time to get in.
The instructors showed us how to paddle out through the waves. There is a technique to keeping your board from sinking (known as pearling) while you swim out. Once we were past the whitewater where the waves were breaking, it was time to maneuver our boards to face the shore. With our instructor’s help, we then accessed the surf. We needed to understand the timing of the waves — when they roll in, crest and break. Knowing when to catch the wave can be tricky. When we were ready to go the instructors actually helped push us as we paddled out onto the wave.
It seemed like within minutes everyone was popping up! My son, who got up on his first try, commented that if you snowboard or skateboard there are a lot of similarities and learning to surf will be easier. It was amazing to watch our group make so much progress in such a short amount of time.
We felt completely safe in the water because the instructors stayed with us the whole time. This gave us the confidence to keep trying. They were there reminding us to bend our knees, not our backs and time and again they helped us find the sweet spot to start paddling. At the end of your session, you can keep the board for an extra hour to keep practicing and put what you just learned to good use.
We realized during the extra hour, without the instructor present, it wasn’t as easy to catch the waves. We decided to sign up for a few more lessons to hone in on the timing thing. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their lesson with Luna Azul and would highly recommend them if you are headed to Sayulita and want to learn to surf.
What is Included in a Lesson
Surfboard, rashguard, and leash.
On land instruction regarding equipment, safety, and technique
One hour surf instruction in the water
An additional one-hour surfboard rental free of charge
Private Lesson: $60 USD | Group Lesson: $40 USD
Plus Luna Azul is so confident that you will learn to surf during your first lesson that if you don’t stand up, you don’t have to pay!
Words of Advice
Instructors – Memo and Eduardo were assigned to our large group. Luna Azul maintains a 4:1 ratio of students to instructors at all times. Our instructors were fantastic. They had the perfect balance of patience and professionalism and they gave all of us the confidence to learn how to surf.
Stingrays – Sayulita Beach is filled with all walks of life including stingrays. You will need to learn the “Sayulita Shuffle” before entering the water. Instead of just walking normally be sure to shuffle your feet close to bottom of the ocean. This will help you to prevent stepping on top of them. However if that does happen we know first hand that the Luna Azul staff knows what to do. After our friend accidentally stepped on one Memo quickly assessed the situation and even took him to the local doctor nearby.
What to Pack–Don’t forget sunscreen, a towel and water. If you are not a strong swimmer they can provide a live vest.
Don’t Get Discouraged – You are going to struggle to get up and when you do you might wipe out. That is ok it is all part of the process. Surfing really is fun.
Disclosure: While the Riviera Nayarit CVB provided our lesson with Luna Azul Surf School, no other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.