Top San Francisco Surfing Schools

By: Claire Bullen

July 23, 2013

Visitors fresh off a flight to San Francisco and looking to try their hands – or feet – at surfing needn’t be intimidated by what can sometimes look like a high-intensity sport. There are plenty of beaches to choose from and a host of San Francisco surfing schools on offer, which are designed to get newbies kitted up in wetsuits and riding the waves in no time. Surf’s up!

It’s thought that surfing first made its way to the West Coast of the US from Hawaii, when famed surfer George Freeth, the “Father of Modern Surfing,” surfed the waves off Huntington Beach in Southern California. Since then, the sport has evolved into a thriving subculture. While Ocean Beach’s strong currents attract only the pros, gentler waves can be found at Pacifica State Beach and along Half Moon Bay State Beach just south of the city.

WB Surfing Lessons, San Francisco

San Francisco Surfing | Father & Son Lesson

Father and son surfing lesson © mikebaird

WB Surfing Lessons is one of the most popular surfing schools in the Bay Area, with an emphasis on the sport as not only a pursuit for thrill-seekers but also a way for regular folk to get active. Classes range from individual surfing lessons to courses tailored to kids and are held at five different beaches around the region. Even for beginners, the sessions prove rewarding – WB Surfing guarantees that all riders will stand on their boards during the very first lesson!

Adventure Out, San Francisco

San Francisco Surfing

Surfer in San Francisco © Tatiana Morozova, 2013. Used under license from

Designed specifically with new surfers in mind, Adventure Out‘s two-day surfing clinic is the perfect way to get beginners acquainted with the water. The lesson is extremely thorough: in addition to teaching the physical techniques of the sport, the instructors at Adventure Out also tutor students on ocean awareness and conditions, wave etiquette, wave breaks, and paddling. Attendees will get comfortable practicing in shallow waters before moving farther out to put their new skills to the test.

University of Surfing, San Francisco

San Francisco Surfing

Couples surfing lesson © Paul Williams

University of Surfing might not actually hand out surfing degrees, but its trained instructors will certainly provide new wave-riders with a thorough introduction to the sport. Offering courses in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley all year long, University of Surfing promises to have students surfing in under an hour.

Kite The Bay, San Francisco

San Francisco Surfing | Kite Boarding

Kite Surfing in San Francisco © Denis Radovanovich, 2013. Used under license from

For a twist on surfing that’s sure to interest adventure-seekers, Kite The Bay teaches students the art of kite surfing. Several introductory courses on the fusion sport teach students how to fly a full-size kite and manage a board. Once those skills are set, a follow-up lesson marries the two for a thrilling day out on the waves.

Header photo: San Francisco Beach © upthebanner, 2013. Used under license from

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Are you a San Francisco surfing pro? Where are your favourite places to catch a wave in the city? Share your tips below.

Written by Claire Bullen

Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen

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