For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved spending time at the beach. I guess it stems from childhood. When I was growing up, family holidays usually meant a few weeks vacationing in various seaside spots around the Norfolk coast in England.
As a kid I relished every opportunity to be close to the ocean; I loved splashing about in the sea and exploring rock pools. But coming from a small village, the nearest beach was almost 10o miles away. So for me the seaside represented some of the most fun and carefree times of my childhood.
As an adult, I’ve remained a bit of a beach bum at heart. Stick me on a beach and I’m as happy as Larry. Strolling along the sand, the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline, the smell of the sea caught up in a breeze… for me life doesn’t get much better than that.
I guess it’s one of the (many) reasons why I have such an affinity for Australia. The country has some of the best beaches in the world.
Take Western Australia for example. The State boasts a 12, 500 km coastline and some of the most beautiful crystal clear blue waters you’re ever likely to feast your eyes upon. The state capital of Perth alone has 19 beaches – so it’s fair to say that if you love beach life, Western Australia is definitely the place to be.
Despite having visited Perth on two previous occasions, I’d never tried my hand at surfing. But that was about to change during my third visit in December 2013. It was finally time to get on a surf board and channel my inner surfie!
Now I’m a pretty decent swimmer and I love the ocean, but surfing has always seemed a) difficult and b) rather scary. I can’t pretend that the State’s spate of shark attacks didn’t cross my mind either. Of course it did. But I’ve never let it put me off getting in the ocean to swim, so why should surfing be any different? So I took the plunge and booked a one-to-one lesson with a local surfing instructor at Brighton Beach in Scarborough. It was a perfect blue-sky summer’s day, and the waves were pretty gentle. It was the perfect spot for a beginner like me.
Now to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done would be an understatement. Sure, I initially felt nervous and a bit self-conscious, especially since I had to wear a wet suit and a bright orange rash shirt that screamed “look at me”. For the record, orange is definitely not my colour! Although I arrived at the sands pretty early, it was set to be a very hot summer’s day, even for Perth. So it wasn’t long before the beach got busy and I had a bit of an audience, to my initial dismay.
Still, I was on a mission and the adrenaline was starting to kick in. After practising a few moves on the sand – namely how to stand up on the board – it was time to venture into the open water with my lovely instructor, Tom. Now I can’t pretend that learning to surf is easy, because it’s not. It’s hard work. I lost count of the number of times I ended up falling into the ocean. And by the end of the hour I’d used muscles I wasn’t even aware I had. But I adored every single minute of the experience.
I’m not exactly the strongest person, and I’m pretty petite. So the hardest part for me was finding the upper body strength to get myself up into a crouching position. But I persevered and by the end of my first lesson I was actually standing up and surfing a wave. Yes, a real wave. Several in fact! I can’t begin to find the words to describe the buzz I felt riding across a wave. It was unreal. A truly exhilarating experience.
By the time my hour lesson was up I was aching, I was exhausted but I was walking on air. Surfing had me, hook line and sinker.
Learn to surf in Perth
Perth is the perfect playground if you’re into water sports. And surfing is no exception. The Perth area is littered with surfing schools, and a quick Google search will provide you with a few to choose from. Popular areas include Scarborough Beach, Leighton Beach and Secret Harbour. You need to make sure your instructor is accredited with the Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI). I can heartedly recommend the team at Go Surf in Scarborough, and my friendly and patient instructor, Tom.