Have you ever loved doing something that you are just not very good at?
That is Dave and I when it comes to surfing. Man, we love it, but we just aren't naturals at it.
We are avid snowboarders back home and while it does help with our balance and stance, it is still a different ball game catching a wave and actually riding it while looking cool as opposed to out of control.
When we came back to Hikkaduwa Beach on Sri Lanka's south western coast, we decided to get down to business and try to see if we could actually get the hang of riding the surf.
We decided to try another surf shop to spread around the wealth and were happy to find that Beach Break not only charged less for a board rental, but also offered a large discount if we took two lessons.
Dave and I took back to back lessons so that one of us could video and photograph the others progress.
Milan was our instructor and he was fantastic. I am going to have to say, way better than the guys in front of the Drunken Monkey. They are great at socializing, but Milan is all business and is out there to teach you the skills that you need. He told us that we only needed one lesson from him and then we would be free to refine our skills on our own.
How honest is that?
We told him that we wanted to have a couple of lessons and after watching us in the water, he said we only need one. He could have taken our money, but he didn't.
Since we had some experience, he set us up on a not quite so long board.
It wasn't a surprise that we were both able to stand on our boards since we had been practicing. It is easy once you find your balance and having an instructor give you an extra shove when the wave comes helps immensely. It is trying to paddle yourself that proves to be more difficult.
Milan then went on to have me catch a wave by myself, showed me how to look for the right wave, how to turn upside down on my surfboard to go under a wave and how to feel the right moment to stand and ride the crest of the wave as opposed to white water. He even showed me how to start turning on the wave so that I could actually ride it one day soon.
He was a slave driver I have to admit. As soon as I made my way back out, he quickly told me to hop on the board and get ready. I was off again, riding another. The hour flew by I was exhausted. Nearing the end of the lesson, I started doing worse as the fatigue in my arms kicked in. Surfing uses different muscles than you are used to and even though the waves aren't that big, it is still a bit of a struggle fighting your way out to calm water.
So, I was happy to see the hour end and give Dave a turn riding the waves. He was itching to get out there and had been standing in the baking sun filming and shooting my work.
Dave did awesome today.
He was getting a little frustrated on our previous boarding outings. We had been renting a board thinking that we would be able to catch on after our lesson with Yula Surf Shop in front of the Drunken Monkey. He couldn't find the flow and feel of the surf and Milan gave him the tips and tricks that he needed.
It wasn't long until he was back on the board standing tall with a big smile on his face.
I lost count how many times he stood up in the hour. He was back and forth in the surf more than I was. Milan wasn't giving him a second to catch his breath.
Dave was like a little boy coming out of the water. Did you see that turn I made? Did you catch how big that wave was? He was all smiles.
By the end of his hour, he was on his own paddling and watching the surf and doing great.
When we reviewed our video that evening, we realized that we weren't as good as we thought.
We have done this on the half pipe in the snowboard park before as well. We film each other, stroking each others egos saying “Wow, you caught great air” or” that was awesome” when in reality, we only jumped about a foot or two.
The same can be said for our surfing.
We road little white water waves, and made a small turn here and there, but looking at it on video. We saw that we are amateurs through and through.
That didn't stop us from having the time of our lives though!
Hikkaduwa is a fantastic place to learn to surf. The waves are just right for beginners and the water is shallow. You don't spend all of your time fighting waves rushing in and can even walk out to the perfect spot to watch for a ride.
You can stand on the sand and watch for an oncoming wave. When you see the perfect one, hop on your board and off you go.
There are some experts on the beach. They trick ride like snowboarders. They flip around doing 360's and ride the top of the wave like a snowboarder or skateboarder rides a rail.
It's fun to watch.
If we ever decided to throw it all in and become surf bums, Hikkaduwa is our kind of place. I don't think that we would ever get the hang of the huge waves of Bali, Australia or Hawaii at this stage of our lives, but the little trick waves here is Sri Lanka are something that could probably be mastered after a few months of work.
But alas, we have to keep moving on. There are mountains to climb, jungles to trek and wildlife to watch. So our Sri Lankan Surf Adventure has come to an end.
- Beach Break is located on Hikkaduwa Beach just south of Hansa Surf Shop.
- 1 Hour lessons costs 2000 Rs, or receive 2 lessons for 3000 Rs
- Board rentals are 250 Rs
- 1 US dollar = 112 Rupees