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What level surfer are you?

Surfing 'levels' can be tricky to know and navigate, but if you know your level then you can seek the right advice and avoid booking onto the wrong sessions, or buying the wrong equipment.

Surfing progression is highly individual, and can vary from person to person, which is why the guide below focuses more on skills and abilities than time frames. Progression takes time in surfing, and moving too fast can acually hold a surfer back.

For example one of the biggest misconceptions is that a few lessons or a bit of experience makes you an 'intermediate' surfer, but there are actually stages between beginner and intermediate.


To most surf schools and stores, being an 'intermediate' suggests that you can ride smaller boards, confidently surf head high to overhead surf, and perform basic manouvres.

We wrote this guide so that we can be on the same page as our clients when describing ability and suggesting the correct courses and advice. We've included photo's and descriptions to help you find your level!

Advanced Surfer
Beginner Surf Lesson


'Beginner surfer' describes those with little to no surfing experience.


Beginner surfers should stick to the shallows (up to waist/chest deep water) and focus on learning to catch whitewater waves, improve their pop up, and ride waves with control towards the beach.

Beginner surfers likely haven't had enough experience to build up ocean awareness and need the most intervention from a coach. Beginners should book into public or private beginner surf lessons, or surf larger foam boards between the black and white checkered flags.


A 'learner' surfer is how we describe surfers with around a month of consistent surfing experience. These surfers are no longer complete beginners, but still have a lot to learn!

These are surfers who are capable of catching and riding whitewater and small/mellow green waves, have a consistent pop up, and can trim left and right.

Learner surfers should look to improve their paddle strength and ocean awareness to be able to catch more waves and surf for longer. They should also look to start surfing green waves when the conditions are appropriate.


Consistency is key here, but dont be too tempted to jump to a small board yet. Mini mals and mid lengths are best for this level of progression.

Learner surfers should look at joining our Progression Sessions and Surf Courses to improve in a safe and confidence building environment.

Advanced Beginner
Advanced Beginner +


A key difference between a learner and an improver surfer is mostly down to fitness and wave catching ability.


Improver surfers should be able to make it out back in chest to head high surf, catch and ride lefts and rights, and be able to perform duck dives/turtle rolls and basic turns.

Surfers of this level are able to focus more on techniques on the actual wave face, and look to improve positioning, taking off, and basic manouvres such as bottom turns, top turns and speed generation.

Improver surfers may look to change to slightly smaller and more manouvreable equipment, and should look at our Progression Sessions and Surf Courses to continue improving towards intermediate surfing.


Intermediate surfers are those with a good level of ocean awareness, who can navigate lineups in overhead surf, and can perform basic manouvres such as bottom turns, top turns and speed generation.

Depending on consistency, it can take 1-5+ years to reach this stage as surfing has one of the toughest learning curves of any sport.

At this stage surfers should look to use smaller boards and think about progressing to a higher volumed shortboard, if its where they'd like to take their surfing!

Intermediate surfers should look to work on their technique through basic manouvres, as these fundimentals will lead to more advanced manouvres such as cutbacks and snaps.

We will look to add intermediate courses in the future, but for now intermediate surfers should look at our Private Surf Coaching to get individualised practice and advice on how to progress.

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