Surf Tips from our Oahu Surf Lessons Coaches

At Jamie O’Brien Surf Experiences, we pride ourselves on our ability to have fun in the water. As Jamie says, “surfing is all about creativity. There is no right or wrong way to ride a wave.” Regardless of your age or skill level, there’s an opportunity for you to enjoy surfing here on the North Shore of Oahu. Our Oahu surf lessons stand out from the rest with our emphasis on fun, creativity, and enjoying the ocean, but that doesn’t mean we are not teaching our students to become better surfers along the way. During your lesson, you will learn to master the basics of popping up, riding down the line, and, of course, having a good time in the water. Whether you’ve already had a lesson or two or your first time surfing is with our coaches at the Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience, our coaches will help you improve and master the fundamentals of surfing. For a preview of our daily lessons, continue reading below for Surf Tips from our Oahu Surf Lessons Coaches.

Choose the right board

Beginner Surf boards

If you’re new to surfing, you may not know what board is best for your skill level. Learning to surf on the wrong size board can be frustrating and a serious hindrance to your progression. At Jamie O’Brien Surf Experiences, we start all our new surfers out on Soft Top longboards. These boards have plenty of float and paddle power, both of which make catching waves easier. Unlike traditional longboards, Soft Top boards have a soft, forgiving foam deck that makes learning to surf as safe as possible. Despite these boards being soft tops, they can still possess some serious performance capabilities, just ask Jamie.

Don’t take shortcuts popping up

Oahu Surf Lessons


An effective popup is key to a successful ride. During our Oahu surf lessons, our coaches will go over the basics of the popup with each student on the beach, before heading into the water. Start by paddling steady, deep strokes. Then, arch your back and place your hands below your chest like you’re performing upward dog. Next, slide or walk your knees up the bard right behind your hands. Finally, throw your front foot up in the center of the board under your chest, and drop your back foot down as you rise to a surfing stance. Our coaches will ensure that you’re popping up correctly on each wave.

Paddle effectively

North Shore Surf Lessons

When we surf, we spend about 90% of our time in the water paddling. Between paddling out and paddling to catch waves, paddling tends to dominate even our best sessions. So, mastering proper paddle technique is crucial. Many new surfers who have not spent ample time in the water struggle to paddle effectively. Rather than taking long deep strokes that propel them forward, they take short, shallow strokes that leave them stuck in one place. To paddle effectively, reach one hand at a time above your head like you’re performing the freestyle swim stroke, and with a cupped hand dig into the water and pull your extended arm back towards you until it is just passed perpendicular to your board. If the stroke continues too far back your momentum will shift from forwards to downwards. Our surf at our Oahu surf school will make sure you’re paddling correctly.

Look down the line

Learn to surf Hawaii

In surfing, you steer with your head. Meaning that wherever you look, your board follows. So, to ride cleanly down the open face of a wave, you need to look in the direction you aim to go. As you pop up, turn your head and shoulders to face down the line of the breaking wave. Where your head and shoulders go, your hips and board will follow. New surfers regularly struggle with this when riding backside. To ride cleanly down the line on a backside wave, exaggerate your head turn by looking over your back shoulder. Our Oahu surf lessons coaches will ensure you’re in the right position to take off cleanly on each wave.

Take off at the peak of the wave

oahu surf lessons

Once you graduate from learning basics and are paddling into waves on your own, it’s time to take of at the peak of the wave. The peak of a wave is the highest point of an incoming wave, where it first begins to break. Surfers take off at the peak because it is the steepest and fastest section of the wave that allows them to get into the wave early. Taking off at the peak of the wave can be intimidating for new surfers, but it is a sure-fire way to make sure you catch the wave you’re paddling for. If you’re trying to take off on the shoulder of the wave, the wave may roll right under you. Our Oahu surf lessons coaches will help guide you into waves at the peak.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to surf hawaii

Surfers of all skill levels would do well to heed this last piece of advice. Don’t take yourself too seriously in the water. The entire point of surfing is to enjoy yourself. As we said earlier, surfing is all about creativity. There is no right or wrong way to ride a wave.

For more surf tips and advice, stay tuned to the Jamie O’Brien Experiences Blog. If you’re an experienced surfer visiting Oahu, check out our Guided Surf Packages and Advanced surf lessons here.

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