Catching Your First Wave? We’ve Got the Best Spots for Surfing Newbies

Surf's up! Beginner-friendly spots in Zambales, Sydney, La Union, and Bali for travelers eager to kickstart a love of surfing.

A woman on a surfboard. A dramatic contrast makes for a great shot (Photo: Tommy Schultz)
A woman on a surfboard. Photo by Tommy Schultz

Catching your first wave? Famous surf spots across the Cebu Pacific network cater to surfers at all levels, and we’ve called on travelers for recommendations catered especially for beginners.

But, first, some tips from 17-year-old Cinta Hansel, two-time ASC junior champion surfer from Bali, to travelers adding surfing adventure to their itineraries:

1. Learn from a local. They know the best places with the best waves.

2. Take on the so-called ‘crumbly’ waves. These aren’t fast or powerful, and they break gently. Their forgiving nature is perfect for beginners, whose first task is to stand on their boards.

3. Seek out the beaches which are safe for learning and picking up the sport. [In Bali, she recommends beaches in Nusa Dua, Kuta and Legian.] The waves are mellow and not too difficult for students. You’ll be up on your feet, literally, in no time.



A surfing lesson at Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales
A surfing lesson at Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales. / Photo by Jonathan Alonso

A three-hour drive from Manila, the beaches of Zambales offer a mix of swells that cater to both beginners and pros. Explore the spots of San Antonio, San Felipe and San Narciso — the latter has the most challenging waves.



Surfers cruising the waves off Bondi Beach. Photo by amophoto_au /


Traveler Faye Sim [IG: @ohitsfayee] recommends: “The best surfing spot in Sydney is definitely the iconic Bondi Beach. North Bondi is perfect for beginners and surfing schools are available to keen learners. Be sure to check on surf conditions before you get on the water. Stay safe, and don’t forget to have your photo taken while you’re at it!”


La Union

Surf camp students getting ready to surf in La Union. / Photo by Lucky Leoparte

Traveler K Co [IG: @cosmicbloom108] shares: “For someone heavy and the opposite of athletic, surfing is quite intimidating. But when I tried surfing in La Union, I felt a spark and knew it was a place I could call home. After several wipeouts, I started getting it. To this day, I still surf with a teacher. I find value in having one because as someone who isn’t used to wearing contact lenses, I need help with checking the waves. For newbies, ask for a long and padded board — the nine-foot ones are safer to ride on.”

We’ve written before about the sunny surf town’s many offerings for locals and weekend wanderers — you can lounge and nurse a drink beachside, frolic along the coast with your friends, and maybe even meet new ones in the form of baby sea turtles.



Cinta recommends Nusa Dua Beach [pictured above], a popular spot that’s roughly 500m offshore — there’s always a wave to catch and the winds provide solid swells that can rise as high as 3m in height: “It’s a good place for beginners, but take care to sit out the big waves, as the currents can be quite strong. If you do get out to surf, you might glimpse the beautiful coral reef below too.”

Meanwhile, traveling pair The Curly Nomads [IG: @curlynomads] recommend: “The break near Batu Bolong beach has beginner waves on one side and intermediate to advanced waves on the other. After a surf, cool off with a fresh coconut.”



A version of this article first appeared in the April 2020 issue of Smile magazine.

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