How To Choose The Right Surf School

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Ride the Tide surf school class in Barbados

With so many Surf Schools in Barbados to choose from how do you find the one that is right for you and going to give you the best time surfing?


Do you rely on TripAdvisor and the opinions for strangers?


Maybe Facebook friends are a more reputable source, knowing your FB friends and their likes or dislikes?


I personally don't believe in the many of the opinions on review sharing sites. I love that some of our customers have shared positive reviews about us and that it helps us reach more customers. But I don't believe activities are measured or reviewed correctly like say a hotel or a restaurant. Chuck in some fake mate's reviews or paid fakes and a few malicious ones for good measure, so goes the fake news era we are currently living in, and you can see that opinion sharing sites have made the choice even harder.


Having been in the surf school business a little while now and having delivered thousands of surfing lessons I can share a little insight into what you should be looking for in a surf school for your surfing lessons here in Barbados or anywhere in the world.

  1. Location,
  2. Equipment,
  3. Surf coach reputation, level & experience,

Everyone always wants the surf school closest to where they're staying. And if you've come to Barbados to surf then go and stay next to a surf spot and a local surf school so that you can spend maximum time in the water surfing.


Having a surf school nearby where you are staying isn't always useful even if it is convenient. Think about the beach and waves you’ll be surfing. Is the beach considered a surf break, does it consistently catch swell, are waves suitable to your level?


If a surf school isn't located at a surfing beach you can guess the amount of surfing you’ll be doing... Plenty of surf schools are mobile and able to load up and drive you to or meet you at a surf break. Obviously, going mobile has its limitations. Such as time spent traveling, time spent surfing, securing personal items, available surfboard inventory and what happens in case of an emergency.


My advice is do a little research online and find out about the many surf breaks we have in Barbados. If you've come to Barbados specifically to surf or for learning to surf then stay at a surf break or very nearby one. If I were coming to Barbados in the winter surf season to learn to surf or for a surf trip I'd stay somewhere on the south coast where there are at least 3 super consistent,  recognized surf breaks on your doorstep or within a short drive. You've got all the visitor life you'd expect to find on the South coast within arms reach and there is a wave to suit any level surfer on everyday in the winter surf season.


If you're going to be taking surf lessons or looking for easier surf & a friendly line-up with waves somewhere between knee high to shoulder high then Freight's Bay is your best bet. Every surf school in Barbados travels here daily for their lessons except us at Ride The Tide Surf School. Freight's Bay is our home break and we are located here. If you surf with us you can stay and surf all day, secure you gear safely and swap boards as many times as you like. You'll also have a secondary, more punchy, surf break just a short walk from our place.


Equipment, if you turn up and see 1000 year old brown surfboards covered with cracks, holes, tape and visible damage just turn around and go somewhere else. Surfboards like this are not safe for beginners to use and will severely hamper you efforts to succeed and progress. 


I personally think that when you see a bunch of safety sponge foamies for surfboards you should turn on your heels also but I am aware that certain countries have regulations that enforce their use. Yes, they are safe, can be fun but are not very effective in terms of performance and often they’re so safe they’re difficult to progress on. But the most current foamies are better than they’ve ever been. Though, few are specifically designed for the beginner to succeed and progress. Rather they’re children’s pool/beach toys.


At Ride The Tide we have the largest and most varied quiver in Barbados to suit surfers of any level. We have a repair workshop onsite at our surf shop and do our best to maintain our surfboards repairing any damages to our quiver as they happen.


Do a little asking around about a surf school and their surfing reputation. Make sure that your surf coach is a surfer and can surf to a reasonable level. You don’t need a pro level elite surfer to teach you when you’re a beginner (and often elite surfers are hopeless at teaching) but you do need someone that can execute the basics themselves and clearly explain them. If your surf coach looks like they too may benefit from a lesson themselves then you’re probably not with the right guy.


A surf coach has to demonstrate the movements performed while surfing, on the beach and in the water. That is how we all learn. When I see surf coaches without a board of their own in lesson sessions I actually lose my cool a little bit. No demo means no visual aid and no progression.


Can they even surf?


More to the point it is a safety risk not having a surfboard to move around the water on. Accidents happen and in an emergency your surfboard is your lifeline. Any seasoned surf coach would know this. Anyone that doesn't is taking a massive risk with the safety of their lesson and surfers.


There are more than enough surfboards at our surf school and we never run short of them. Even if we are surfing away from home we have a truck and trailer able to carry more than enough surfboards for all our surfers and a few spare to swap in and out as needed.


If you want your surfing in Barbados to be memorable and full of fun waves give us a call. Even more so now that we have our own accomodation onsite at Freight's Bay, The Surfer's Cottage...


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