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surfing
Photograph: Courtesy Alexis Balinoff

Here’s where to take surf lessons in Los Angeles

Hop on a board, learn to hang ten and catch a wave or two at these top surf lessons across Los Angeles

By Kate Wertheimer and Danielle DiMeglio
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It doesn’t get more quintessentially California than surfboards and sun-kissed beaches. When it comes to shredding the waves, Southern California is a well-known treasure trove of pro-approved surf spots, from Santa Barbara to Imperial Beach. In fact, every year, thousands of fans descend upon Huntington Beach to watch athletes compete in the world’s largest surf competition, the U.S. Open of Surfing. With all the hype surrounding the gravity-defying sport and top-tier beaches right in our backyard, it’s no surprise that there’s a high-demand for surf lessons among ocean-loving Angelenos. Whether you’re a novice or advanced surfer, there are plenty of surf lessons in Los Angeles to gear you up for a thrilling ride in the Pacific. 

L.A.’s top spots for surf lessons

Photograph: Courtesy Malibu Surf Shack

1. Malibu Surf Shack

Learn from whippersnapper locals at this spot just across the street from Malibu Pier, of Gidget fame. Since the early 1970s, the team of experienced CPR and First-Aid certified instructors have been teaching people how to ride the waves at the famous Surfrider Beach—known for its renowned surf break. At Malibu Surf Shack, students can safely learn how to surf, boogie board and swim in the Pacific. Bonus? You can often spot sea lions, dolphins and even whales at this surfer-approved locale.  

Aloha Brothers
Photograph: Courtesy Aloha Brothers

2. Aloha Brothers

From beginners to intermediate-level surfers, those yearning to master the waves can learn from the experienced and well-trained Aloha Brothers in Venice. Patient, easygoing instructors give lessons to locals and tourists alike (the owner speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese) at any age and experience level. If you don’t already have a wet suit or surfboard, don’t fret: all the gear you need is included in a 90-minute surf lesson, be it a one-on-one private session or group class.

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Photograph: Courtesy Go Surf LA

3. Go Surf LA

The kid-friendly Go Surf LA guarantees that you’ll ride one wave by the end of the first lesson or your next class is free. Led by a team of CPR and First-Aid certified instructors, the surf and paddle boarding school offers lessons all year long at beaches across Los Angeles, including Zuma, Manhattan Beach, Zuma and Santa Monica. Learn how to comfortably surf the waves in roughly three to five lessons, which last 90 minutes at $90 per lesson. 

Photograph: Courtesy Learn To Surf LA

4. Learn To Surf LA

These pros have been teaching in SoCal for nearly two decades and offer lessons in Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan Beach. Learn to Surf LA offers both individual and group classes to students ages 5 and up. Here, you’ll learn everything from reading the waves and paddling out through the break to maneuvering the board and keeping balanced. Surf lessons last about two hours and include all the necessary equipment. Plus, children and teens, ages 5 to 17, can also participate in spring and summer surf camps for a fully immersive experience. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Kapowui

5. Kapowui Surf Lessons

Look for brightly colored vintage VW vans topped with boards and slapped with a Kapowui sticker for instant friends on the water. Learn how to properly (and safely) catch a wave during a one or two hour lesson in Venice Beach. The group of certified instructors will teach you the ins and outs of surf culture, from etiquette in the water to form and balance on the board. Lessons are available from 6am to 4pm daily and include a surfboard and wet suit.

Photograph: Courtesy Campsurf

6. Campsurf

Things to do Classes and workshops Manhattan Beach

Whether you’ve never set foot on a board or you’re an advanced wave shredder, Manhattan Beach’s premier surf school, Campsurf, offers lessons, classes and camps for any experience level. As the official surf school of the city of Manhattan Beach, you can bet the programs are top notch. Led by professional surf instructors—all CPR and First-Aid certified—the lessons and camps kick off at the El Porto area of Manhattan Beach. Meet at the south end of the El Porto parking lot (you can’t miss the bright Campsurf bus) and before you know it, you’ll be riding the waves. 

More fun in the sun

Crescent Bay Beach, Laguna Beach
Photograph: Yelp/Sydney H

The best beaches in California for surf, sand and sun

Things to do

Boasting nearly 900 miles of shoreline, the beaches in California are among the best in the world. The Golden State is synonymous with its golden-sand shores, stretching from the palm-tree–lined beaches in Los Angeles to the rugged, picturesque coastline of the north. Along the way, you’ll find a beach for every occasion, from bustling spots with fab people-watching to quiet, contemplative coves.

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