Surf Lessons

True story… I once saw a tuk tuk driver that I knew giving surf lessons to two girls at Elephant Rock. This tuk tuk driver could not even swim let alone surf!

Instructors and Safety

There are lots of “surf instructors” in Arugam Bay but there are very few people who can genuinely teach you to surf safely. Please understand that being a good surfer does not necessarily make you a good surf instructor. Everybody has different opinions about what is required in surf lesson no 1. Most agree though that the emphasis should be on safety in the water. That is, not getting hurt and not hurting anyone else.

Surf Lessons

The majority of surf lessons are not really lessons but are more about offering a “surf experience” and are more or less the equivalent of sky diving while strapped to a professional. However, this can be a lot of fun and can build confidence which are positive things!

Instruction Style

This “pushing” style of surf instruction can be counterproductive if it used excessively. The surfer gains confidence quickly but will almost certainly find it difficult to manage without the support of the instructor in the future. It can produce a surfer who is unable to use all of their senses in the line up.


There is a lot of pressure and competition between the different schools and independent instructors. This can lead to situations where the success of the school is demonstrated by the number of waves the student takes. So when 2 or 3 students are pushed into a wave on which there is already a surfer, accidents will happen. When this happens, guess what, it will be you paying for that expensive board repair!


Despite the increasing crowds, even during the high season some weeks are noticeably less busy than others. You just need to be lucky and hit a quiet time. If you do, the rewards are huge. Arugam Bay is a beautiful place to surf and the near perfect swells, warm water and sandy point breaks are almost always worth the trip!

Off Season

If you prefer less crowds then it is advisable to come during the off season, especially if you can stay for a few weeks or more. Although the surf is not as consistent, absolute beginners will benefit from having more space and waves. This means less stress and a better environment in which to learn. Also, everything is cheaper and it really does not rain that much!

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11 months ago

Any advice on which instructors/which school actually teaches something?? Myself (with some surfing experience) and my boyfriend (who never tried surfing before) took a lesson with an instructor from one of the popular schools. I was shocked to see how he was introduced to surfing as a complete beginner – He wasn’t told how to deal with the board when walking in the water, how to paddle out and handle approaching waves, ZERO info about surfing etiquette. Just practiced the popup a few times and off we go to the water. That was very different from my experience when I had my very first lessons.

And then in the water (obviously super crowded), the instructors are just pushing 10 students (who cant even turn) on the same wave. A lot of them have already been given hard boards (which in my opinion means it’s time to try to catch the waves by themselves) – but nope, still pushing and no turning skills. Everyone is crashing into each other, boards are crashing – I am really surprised no one got seriously hurt, there were some swollen and bruised ankles of course.

Not to mention, instructors are speaking among themselves in the local language about the girls they are teaching, clearly gossipping, even pointing at their butts. The girls have no idea what’s going on, just smiling politely. Super unprofessional and creepy, awful vibe.

I was hoping to improve my technique but I am really disappointed. Walking from school to school also doesn’t seem like a great idea – they all know each other and seem like a local “mafia” just making fun of the tourists. Any advice would be appreciated, I will be here for at least 1month.

11 months ago
Reply to  Millie

I hope you write a review to this surf school. Many people look for good reviews and if there is no real feed back, people wont know. I usually try to read the reviews thoroughly to see who has actually good quality reviews.

9 months ago
Reply to  Millie

It is really not easy to find a good one. Maybe try a private teacher, instead of a school. For them it is important to give great service to survive. Check wether they are ISA Instructor and Life guads (ILS).

I have been in south and they where just pushing me for one week and didn’t teached me anything (I guess it is there way to make money)

In Arugam Bay I was lucky to finde a realy great teacher and I made immediatly progress! But I saw other teachers in the water and was really shocked. Especialy big Schools and Surf Camps. They go with so many people.

I went with “Surf with Deen” (check on google maps), he have great reviews and safty and your progress is super important for him. I had a great time and super fast progress. He will make sure that you get your space even in the crowed. The crowed made me super nervous, but he handled it perfecty. He also go with max. 3 people. If there is a Group of 4 he take a second teacher with him. What impressed me. And he advice every girl to cover themselve a bit more 😉