And no I don’t mean on top of taxi cabs or on the subway.
When I think of surfing, I tend to think of the West Coast, specifically California or Hawaii.
But what about for the East Coasters?
For New Yorkers?
For the less experienced or for people looking to try surfing for the first time and don’t want to travel too far from home?
All these questions can be put to rest.
Have no fear, there is surfing in New York City! In Queens to be exact. Taking a surf lesson was definitely on my bucket list of things to do. I had previously mentioned that I wanted to try surfing to one of my friends and she said she would take a lesson too. So after some research, we decided to embark on this adventure and take our first surf lesson last summer with New York Surf School located at Rockaway Beach in Queens.
The Office is the Beach
So early that August morning, we made our way to the Beach at 69th Street, where we were instructed to meet. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. After sliding on a wet suit top, we did some exercises to get us stretched and ready to surf. Our instructor demonstrated what we should do when we are out on the water. He instructed us to lie down on the board on our stomachs.
Surfboards are much bigger and heavier than I expected!
Then we were told to paddle out as fast as we can. When the instructor yelled “UP” it was the signal to lift ourselves into a squatting position on the board. The goal was to stand up, which is 100% easier on the beach than in the actual water.
Finally, it was off to the ocean! Surfs Up!
I quickly learned that surfing is not easy.
I can’t say what I tried to do was actually surfing. I can’t compare it to what talented and professional surfers actually do. But with all of my strength and determination, I tried to surf as best as I could. “Paddle! Paddle!”, shouted the instructors. ”UP”. I was ready to conquer the waves. Still nervous and excited, I pushed myself up and attempted to stand. It was more up, kind of squat and crash into the water I went. My next attempt I did slightly better, but wasn’t really standing yet.
All I could tell myself was…Don’t give up!
Being in the ocean with a surfboard strapped to your ankle can be very intimidating at times. After a few more times, I got knocked out by a strong wave and went back to the shore to take a quick break. After I recovered, it was go time again. I also have to mention one of the instructors was extremely helpful and encouraging. He helped me for the rest of the lesson. In the end, I was able to partially stand up for a few seconds.
Overall, I was proud of myself.
Exhausted and happy, I relaxed on the beach for a bit before heading home.
It is an experience I am glad I did and to sum it up in one word, simply AMAZING!
This is what I learned…surfing takes a lot of practice, endurance and determination.
Surfing is not easy, but I have a new found respect for surfers, professional or not.
Surfers are working with a natural element that is many times unpredictable.
You also must also be fearless. While I have done some adventurous activities in the past, skydiving, ziplining, I was more nervous to go surfing. Maybe it’s the unpredictability of the waves that made me fearful, I am not exactly sure.
While I was trying to work with the ocean, it clearly won that battle. But surfers look like they conquer the mighty ocean. They appear to be one with the waves. Nevertheless, I am glad I did it and I would do it again. Maybe one day even in California or Hawaii.
I can see why surfers go back for more. Surfing is a true test of yourself. It is a test of your mind, body and spirit.
While I know it was only one lesson, it defiantly had an impact on me. The experience pushed me out of my comfort zone. Moving beyond your comfort zone is something that I believe everyone needs to do from time to time. It challenges you and sometimes makes you realize things. The results can be powerful!
This experience further demonstrated that I like adventure and that I may even be a little crazy, but the good kind of crazy!
I can now officially cross “take a surf lesson” off of my bucket list.
If you live in New York, you don’t have to go far to “catch a wave”. Surfing is not just strictly for the West Coast. So when they say you can do almost anything in New York…they are right.
Travel article by Virginia Watson.
Photo from Flickr moonman82.