Bird's Surf Shed, one of San Diego's best surf shops

Surf Shops in San Diego

Looking for surf gear? These are the best surf shops in San Diego for those looking for some wave riding action.

Whether you are a tourist, local, or new transplant, chances are that at some point you will find yourself asking “Where can I buy a surfboard in San Diego?” It might be the great surf breaks, the warm water, or the draw of the city itself, but whatever it is, San Diego has become one of the West Coast’s preeminent surf meccas. San Diego surfboard companies have sprung up everywhere and the number of surfboard shops in San Diego has exploded as well.

The Best Surf Shops in San Diego

It is this very popularity that makes it all but impossible to navigate the hundreds of surf shops in San Diego, so if you are wondering “where can I find some surf shops near me?” you are not alone. Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the best surf shops in San Diego. Below you can search for shops that meet your needs and are in your neighborhood.

Mitch’s

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mitch’s Surf Shop has just about anything you could possibly need to have a great time on the beach. Their expertise extends well beyond just surfboards in San Diego. The La Jolla surf shop even has paddle boarding and spearfishing gear. Both locations offer rentals too, so if you just want to try something out or if you are just in town for a few days, they have you covered. Finally, Mitch’s has a great selection of blanks and resin shaping supplies for all you San Diego surfboard shapers out there.

  • La Jolla: 631 Pearl St., La Jolla, CA 92037.
  • Phone: (858) 459-5933
  • Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., closes at 5 p.m. on Sundays

  • Solana Beach: 363 North Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075.
  • Phone: (858) 481-1354
  • Hours: Solana Beach 10:15 a.m. – 5:45 p.m., closed on Sundays

Bird’s Surf Shed

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Bird’s likes to say that it is “way more than a surf shop. It’s a San Diego surf destination.” And, in this case, that is not just hyperbole. Bird’s has been around for decades and is a cornerstone of San Diego surf culture. They even have surf film premiers and hands-on board shaping clinics from the best in the business. The store is covered with surfboards – from floor to ceiling… literally! They have boards all the way up the walls and all over the ceiling.

  • Bay Park: 1091 W. Morena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110.
  • Phone: (619) 276-2473
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., closes at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays

PB Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Pacific Beach Surf Shop is not quite like the other surf shops in San Diego. Yes, they have boards, wetsuits, and everything you would find at any other shop out there, but they also run one of the most affordable surf schools in the San Diego area. The shop (and school) are well-established, to say the least: they have been open since 1962 and show no sign of closing any time soon.

  • Pacific Beach: 4208 Oliver Ct. San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 373-1138
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. all week long

Clairemont Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Clairemont Surf Shop is definitely not a newcomer to the San Diego surfing scene. This family-owned and operated shop has been helping people enjoy San Diego’s breaks since 1976. If you need something, they will probably have it. No matter what their shelves look like when you visit, the one thing that they are 100% certain to have is expertise.

  • Clairemont: 6393 Balboa Ave. San Diego, CA 92111
  • Phone: (858) 292-1153
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Weekends: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Mission Surf

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Here is a surf shop that really thinks outside of the box. Other surf shops can offer you what you need to surf, but Mission Surf can also help you be where you need to surf. The shop rents two Airbnb apartments out directly over the store. You can roll out of bed, get everything you need for the day downstairs, and be out the door and on the beach faster than you could say “surf store San Diego.” From there you can choose to surf right on Mission Beach or head up a few minutes north to Tourmaline Beach. You really can’t go wrong.

  • Mission Beach: 4320 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 292-1153
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

Solana Surfboards

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This surf shop is a bit of an outlier insofar as it is an online surf shop. All the same, Solana is local and makes extremely high-quality custom hand-built surfboards. If you want the best and are willing to pay for what you get, this might be the place for you.

  • Torrey Hills: 11211 Sorrento Valley Rd Ste. H San Diego, CA
  • Phone: (858) 876-2120
  • Hours: Online sales only, so no hours listed

South Coast Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This shop has a strong local history and dates back to 1974. Its local charm and its business success have led to it opening four sister stores scattered across San Diego. They have a great online store and are very well-stocked.

  • Ocean Beach: 5023 Newport Avenue Ocean Beach, CA 92107 
  • Phone: (619) 223-7017
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

  • Pacific Beach: 740 Felspar St., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (858) 483-7660
  • Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. all week long

Sun Diego Boardshop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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These guys have way more than just surfboards; actually, if you can think of anything that ends in the word “board,” they probably have it: surfboards, skateboards, paddleboards, and even snowboards! They have three locations, so be sure to pick the one closest to you.

  • Belmont Park | Mission Beach: 3126 Mission Blvd. Suite A, San Diego, 92109
  • Phone: (858) 866-0108
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. all week long

  • Fashion Valley: 7007 Friars Rd #844 San Diego, CA 92108
  • Phone: (619) 268-2295
  • Mon-Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sun: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

  • Westfield UTC 4465 La Jolla Village Drive Suite #H-14, San Diego, 92122
  • Phone: (858) 646-0632
  • Mon-Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sun: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Rip Curl Surf Center

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rip Curl is one of the most recognizable names in surfing and has tons of stores and outlets around San Diego, but the best is the surf center in Pacific Beach. If it has anything to do with surfing, chances are that Rip Curl will have it. They also have an extensive line of clothing for all ages and genders.

  • Pacific Beach: 4287 Mission Blvd. #A CA Pacific Beach, 92109
  • Phone: (858) 273-8070
  • Everyday Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. all week long

Surf Diva Surf School

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This school is run by the experienced surfers (and twin sisters) Izzy and Coco Tihanyi. They have won a bevy of awards for their work, and have done a great deal to introduce women and girls to surfing over the years. Regardless of your gender, however, if you are looking for surf lessons in La Jolla, this is your place. The school doubles as a surf boutique that is filled with surf-related knick-knacks, and you are sure to find something that strikes your fancy inside. If you are interested in La Jolla surfing, this is the spot for you.

  • La Jolla: 2160 Avenida de la Playa, San Diego, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 454-8273
  • Hours: Mon-Thu: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Fri-Sun: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Cheap Rentals

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you are looking to rent any kind of surf-related gear, this is the place to go if you want to save a few bucks. Don’t let the name fool you though; even though it says “cheap,” the store gives off a classy and fun vibe and the things they rent out are all in good shape.

  • Mission Beach: 3689 Mission Blvd., San Diego, California 92109
  • Phone: (858) 488-9070
  • Hours: Mon-Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Surf Ride

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The two locations for this shop are both in the Solana Beach/Oceanside area, so if you live a bit north of downtown San Diego, this could be the place for you. In addition to stocking all of the latest accessories, boards, and brands, they also run a popular surf camp.

  • Oceanside: 1909 South Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054
  • Phone: (760) 433-4020
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

  • Solana Beach: 325 North Highway 101 Solana Beach, CA 92075
  • Phone (858) 755-0858
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. all week long

Emerald City

 

 
 
 
 
 
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They call themselves the premier surf shop of Coronado for a very good reason: they are. Named after Coronado’s evergreen barrels, the shop opened in 1988 and has been going strong ever since. They have everything you could ever want to buy, as well as a large selection of rentals if you are just in town for a few days. If you are looking to buy, however, they have a price matching guarantee that can save you the trouble of having to shop at all the surf shops in San Diego to find a great deal.

  • Coronado Island: 1118 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
  • Phone: (619) 435-6677
  • Hours: Mon–Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Atacama Surf Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The shop chose the name Atacama after the driest place on the planet earth: the Atacama Desert. The people who have lived in and around the desert have had to use ingenuity and creativity to eke out an existence in that hostile terrain, and the store holds these same values. They pride themselves on constantly innovating. Their central location allows them to partner with all kinds of local San Diego businesses, and the result is that they always have something new and exciting going on.

  • Harborview: 2165 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 795-6178
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Weekends: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

One of the great perks of living in San Diego is access to some of the best surfing beaches you can find. Luckily, surf shops in San Diego can be found in nearly every neighborhood and can cater to all levels of surfer. If you are just starting out, then you might want to gravitate towards one of the shops that offer lessons and rentals. If you are an experienced surfer, then head on over to an old-school surf shop where you can hang out and learn about new breaks from other surfers. Whatever your skill or interest level, if it has to do with surfing the surf shops in San Diego have got you covered.

About the banner photo: This IG photo of Bird’s Surf Shed is courtesy of @lightspeed_outdoors

Leopard Shark 101

If you’ve been to La Jolla Cove in southern California during the summer, you’ve probably heard about the leopard sharks! Swimming and snorkeling with these incredible creatures is a popular summertime activity with both locals and tourists alike. And while the word ‘shark’ may sound a little scary, leopard sharks are actually completely harmless to humans and offer a fun way to explore the underwater world off the shores of La Jolla. Here’s everything you need to know about leopard sharks!

Markings and Features

Leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata) are a member of the Houndshark family and have quite distinctive features; including large dark spots and saddle type markings. The sharks have a broad, short snout, triangular pectoral fins, a short dorsal fin, and a notched, asymmetrical tailfin. On top they are usually a silver or bronzed-gray, fading to white underneath, with distinct dark spots and blotches on its back, sides, and pectoral fins.

They can live up to 30 years, and take more than a decade to reach maturity. They generally only grow to about four or five feet (in rare occasions they can reach up to seven feet) and the heaviest ever recorded weighed in at a whopping forty pounds.

 

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Habitat

The leopard shark is found in continental waters, both nearshore and offshore, and their preference is for waters that are cool to warm in temperate or sandy/muddy bays or estuaries. They love sand flats, mud flats, and rocky bottom areas near reef sites and kelp beds – which explains their love of La Jolla!

The sharks are usually found near the bottom of shallow water, and they are exceptionally strong swimmers. Oftentimes, they are joined in a school of others that include the Smooth-Hound, gray Smooth-Hound, or the Piked Dogfish.

They’ve been found all across the Eastern North Pacific, from Oregon to the Gulf of California and Mexico.

Interaction with Humans

Leopard sharks are harmless to humans. Only one attack has ever been recorded, and it happened in 1955 in Trinidad Bay, California. Fortunately, the diver was not seriously injured.

The leopard shark has recently become a protected species in California and Oregon waters so that they are not overfished. Sports anglers, spearfishers, and small-scale commercial line fisheries are typically the ones who go after the shark.

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Mating Season

Female leopard sharks travel to La Jolla each summer to mate with males and spawn their young, which is why there is such a large influx of them at the beginning of summer (around June).

The female leopard becomes mature at ten to fifteen years of age and males at seven to thirteen years. During the annual breeding season, schools of these sharks move from deeper water into nearshore shallower water. Fertilization is internal. The type of reproduction is called aplacental viviparity or ovoviviparity. The fertilized eggs hatch inside the female’s body and pups are born live. After a ten to twelve-month gestation, seven to thirty-six pups about 17.8 cm (7 in) in total length are born. They are independent at birth, but usually stay in shallow bays and estuaries before venturing out into deeper ocean waters

Female leopard sharks have been observed giving birth in a variety of habitats along the California coastline from eel grass to sandbars and the open ocean.

Behavior

Leopard sharks congregate by size and sex in large nomadic schools. The schools appear and disappear within a few hours. Schools follow the tide as they feed, moving closer to shore as the tide comes in and then swimming away before it recedes. In addition to feeding, the movement may be influenced by temperature, salinity and amount of dissolved oxygen. Large schools have even been observed in the surf zone. They are also known to form schools with California round rays and with sevengill sharks, and smoothhound sharks. The latter are close relatives.

The leopard shark diet consists mostly of smaller shellfish; including clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, and fish eggs.

Conservation Efforts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closely manages the leopard shark fishery within state waters. Use of gill nets in waters typically inhabited by these sharks is prohibited. The recreational fishery for leopard sharks is open year-round and coast-wide to diverse and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers year-round in designated areas only. Outside these areas, it is open seasonally between January and June.

In federal waters, leopard sharks are one of three shark species under the management authority of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service through the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (Groundfish FMP).

Currently listed internationally as Least Concern, overfishing, loss of shallow water nurseries, and pollution of these areas from runoff are threats to these sharks. They have been found to contain high levels of mercury attributed to either water quality or ingestion of food items containing mercury.

Snorkeling with the Leopard Sharks

The end of August and September are usually the best times to see La Jolla Leopard Sharks, as this is towards the end of the mating season and there are higher numbers of sharks. The ideal time to go is during the day, when there are calm waters and when it’s sunny (as they will be easier to spot).

La Jolla Shores, where the water is warmer and shallower, is usually where snorkelers and swimmers venture out to see and swim with the leopard sharks. It’s easier for them to search for food in the sand and kelp forests, which are protected by the La Jolla Underwater Park Preserve. Their diet consists mostly of smaller shellfish; including clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, and fish eggs.

During peak season, you can simply swim out into the water at La Jolla Shores and see the leopard sharks – they will often be that close to shore. Wade out up to your knees or hips, and you’ll see them swimming around your feet (which is quite an experience!). There’s no reason to be scared of these little guys, as they are completely harmless to humans and won’t bite or bother you.

There are a few different ways to really see the La Jolla Leopard Sharks. You can:

  • Swim out by yourself at La Jolla Shores and simply watch them through the water, which is usually pretty clear.
  • Snorkel the La Jolla shores to get a better look at the sharks through a snorkel mask; either with your own gear or a snorkel rental. If you don’t have your own gear, many companies will rent you gear for the entire day at one price: Everyday California and La Jolla Kayak are just a couple.
  • Take a guided snorkeling tour from any number of companies located in La Jolla Shores:
  • Take the guided snorkeling tours offered by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in southern California. The tours are typically held from July through September, and these are a great option if you want to learn more about the sharks, as there is a trained naturalist guiding each tour. Intermediate swimming ability is required and previous snorkeling experience is recommended (ages 10+).

A Few Fun Facts About Leopard Sharks

  • Sometimes the leopard shark is referred to as a cat shark.
  • They can form large schools that contain other types of sharks.
  • Leopard sharks have a tooth pattern that is called “pavement-toothed.”
  • They often rest on the ocean floor and pump water over their gills.
  • The genus Triakis is derived from the Greek word “triakis” meaning three-pointed, referring to its three-pointed teeth. This shark species name semifasciata refers to its “half-banded” markings.
  • In the San Francisco Bay, leopard sharks and piked dogfish have been observed engaging in a unique feeding strategy: the two sharks species will swim at the surface, with mouths open, in a counter-clockwise direction. At the same time, densely packed schools of anchovies are gathered at the surface and will swim in a clockwise direction. While the sharks don’t exhibit any specific hunting behavior or directed movements toward the oncoming anchovies, the sharks’ posture and movement does result in ingestion of incidental prey (i.e. anchovies) which inadvertently swim into the open maw of the prowling sharks.

To learn more about activities and fun things to do at La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove, visit our guides section!

6 Things You Didn’t Know About La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail

La Jolla California is full of hidden gems and beautiful coastal views, but there are few as gorgeous as the historic La Jolla Coast Walk Trail. First conceived in the early 1900s, the hiking trail has undergone several changes through the decades; today, it’s one of the most popular hiking trails in all of La Jolla California.

From the hike, you can spot several nearby attractions; including La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores beach, and on a super clear day, even downtown San Diego. Here are a few fun facts we unearthed about this gorgeous spot in Southern California!

1. The trail was given historic designation in 1990.

Although the footpath was built to its current configuration in 1932, it wasn’t formally recognized as a historic site deserving of preservation until just a couple of decades ago. Today, its conservation is overseen by the City of San Diego. In fact, this year they are to begin construction on a restoration project for the bridge towards the end of the hike. The bridge over the canyon was wiped out last year after a storm and has been deemed unsafe for pedestrian use; the reconstruction will hopefully be finished by the end of 2018.

2. It’s believed to have been used as a hunting trail by Native Americans.

Though little else is known, archaeologists have found artifacts and evidence of late prehistoric Indian villages that dates back 9,500 years beneath the stratified soil in La Jolla – meaning they are among some of the oldest remains ever found in Southern California. Much of their activity along the trail and nearby La Jolla canyon was food-driven: early inhabitants could walk down to the tide pools or beach below and pick up dinner, or pick up rabbits at the top of the cliffs and within the canyon.

3. The area just above the bridge, along the cliffs, was once known as “Dead Man’s Leap.”

In the 1890s, sightseers would take balloon rides and watch the antics of a local showman and daredevil named “Professor” Horace Poole. Rumor has it that he leaped from a springboard in the surf, 100 feet below. It was a favorite spot of many thrill-seekers for a long time, in fact, though the diving practice eventually gave way to lowering people by rope over the edge of Devil’s Slide (the long canyon that descended to the shore) and allowing them to dangle and peer into the dark caves along the coast, which were otherwise difficult to enter.

[Devil’s Slide, 1906, original staircase. Via UC San Diego Digital Collections

4. In 1899, the railroad built a steep wooden stairway from the top of Devil’s Slide (above the trail) to the shoreline.

The railroad was looking to improve access to the caves and abalone beds below, especially as La Jolla was quickly becoming a hugely popular tourist destination (and also perhaps to put a stop to the jumping daredevils!). The rocky cliffs, parks, beautiful coastline, hiking trails, and sea caves were growing local attractions, and people were traveling by rail from San Diego and beyond. So, they commissioned all unemployed locals to build the bridge as a sort of public works project.

One theory behind the reason for the name “Devil’s Slide” is all of the rock slides that occurred before the land was inhabited, a problem that made its descent all the more dangerous.

5. The white bridge that’s there today wasn’t constructed until 1991.

The wooden white bridge was constructed to cross the gulch and make a safer pathway for the hiking trail soon after it became a historical destination. Sadly, much of the hiking trail has fallen into disrepair, and reconstruction is in the works as commissioned by the City of San Diego.

6. The Coast Walk Trail is actually part of the California Coastal Trail.

The CCT is a soon-to-be completed 1,200-mile long hiking trail that follows the California coast from Mexico all the way to Oregon. Other La Jolla trails that are part of the CCT include the Coastal Meander Trail (near La Jolla Cove); though parts of it are still incomplete, it’s possible to traverse the entire length of the CCT today.

The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail is just about 0.6 miles and begins at either the Cave Store (from where you can walk down into Sunny Jim Cave) or at the small cul-de-sac along Prospect St., where you’ll find a parking lot with about ten spots. Assuming you can snag a spot, begin the hike by walking downhill toward a view point, where you’ll pick up the designated Historic Coast Walk Trail. Follow the hiking trails along the bluffs; you’ll soon spot that white footbridge we mentioned.

Remember to keep an eye out for sea lions lounging on the rocks below, nearby La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores, downtown La Jolla Village, and groups of kayak tours out on the water! Those looking to explore on wheels can adventure along one of La Jolla’s several bike paths.

San Diego Outdoor Activities

San Diego is known as one of the most active, fit, and outdoor living communities in the whole country. When the weather is this nice all the time, who wants to stay stuck inside? Over the year's LaJolla.com has had the privilege of covering some of the best outdoor activities in all of San Diego. Take a look at our favorite articles and let us know in the comments what your favorite activity is or which ones we're missing!

 

9 Reasons to Try La Jolla Surf Lessons with Surf Diva

There’s nothing like the rush you get from gliding through the ocean on a surfboard–from the moment you see the crest of a good wave coming at you to the breathless excitement in your chest as you feel the swell underneath you. Unfortunately, too many people never get to experience this despite all the resources for finding fantastic La Jolla surf lessons from one of San Diego’s best surf shops.

Many native La Jollans don’t learn to surf even though they’re just minutes from the ocean. Whether they’re afraid of embarrassing themselves or concerned about their athletic ability, they see surfing as inaccessible and difficult. In reality, it’s a lot easier than you think.

If you’re ready to finally get out there, La Jolla is the optimal place. You don’t have to do it alone, either: there a plenty of places to learn from, such as Surf Diva Surf School.

Here’s why you should get started with lessons and start enjoying the ‘stoke’ as soon as possible.

1. You’re so close to the beach

Getting to the beach is incredibly easy if you live in San Diego (or even if you’re just visiting). La Jolla has a ton of beaches that are well-known for surfingspecifically.

2. La Jolla beaches are great for beginners

Not only is there fantastic beach access, but there are also areas that are great for beginning surfers. La Jolla Shores is popular among those new to the sport. The waves are often smaller and calmer, which is perfect for someone who’s had never been out before.

3. It’s easy to get a great lesson

There are a ton of experienced surf instructors who can give you a comprehensive lesson. The friendly and experienced staff at Surf Diva will help you learn to read the ocean, paddle out, and even ride a few waves—all in an hour.

4. It Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

What’s great about starting off with a lesson is that a board is already provided, and wetsuits can be rented for just $5. If you’re still concerned about pricing, you can always sign up for a group surfing lesson instead. Surf Diva offers a two-day surf camp on the weekends.

5. You’re not too old

If you’re an adult, you might think that it’s too late for you. Actually, a lot of people learn when they’re older, and it’s totally possible for you, too. The surfing community is diverse and full of people of all ages.

6. No, everyone is not going to laugh at you

It can be intimidating to go into the water as a total beginner when there are more experienced surfers ripping. Honestly, though, you’ll be enjoying yourself so much that you won’t even notice. The instructors at Surf Diva provide a fun, supportive environment–after all, their company motto is “The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.”

7. It’s a Great Form of Exercise

Surfing is not a passive sport. While you’re paddling or popping up on your board, you probably won’t even realize what a workout you’re getting. The fresh air and sunshine make it an alternative that you’ll choose over the gym any day.

8. You ARE Athletic Enough

That being said, you don’t have to be highly athletic to surf. Many beginners stand up in their first lesson. Anyone of any size and strength can do it–you’ll spot little kids as young as five on boards.

9. There are different ways to enjoy the waves

Paddleboarding is another very popular sport in La Jolla, and easy to learn. Surf Diva, along with its sister school Menehune, offers both private and group stand-up paddle surfing (SUP) lessons.

Share with us your first surfing experience in the comments below!