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Silver Surfers: A Guide to Surfing for Older Adults

August 13, 2021

If you’re an older adult who loves the ocean, staying active, and has an appetite for adventure, it’s high time (or tide) you dropped into the seductive world of surfing.

Surfing for older adults has always been a thing. In many cultures, it's customary for seniors to surf, and even be some of the best surfers out. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the sport and art of surfing, no matter your age.

At Beach Break Surf Camp, we recently had the pleasure of hosting a dynamo trio of Silver Surfers– wave riders in the 50+range who give a new meaning to the phrase “golden years.”

This was Eden, Caroline, and Paula’s second time at Beach Break, and they were kind enough to let us interview them. We included a few quotes in this article (leaving out the raunchy parts) and you can watch the full interview below.

[Video]

Read on to learn about the benefits of surfing for older adults, and tips on surfing for seniors– whether you’re a complete beginner or upgrading your skills.

The Benefits of Surfing for Older Adults

Surfing has many health benefits for older adults that can help you stay physically active, mentally stimulated, and engaged with the world around you.

Exercise

Surfing is a great form of exercise, helping to improve endurance, physical strength, and flexibility.  As an added bonus, it also improves balance and stability which can help older adults keep their bodies in tune and avoid harmful falls. In fact, surfing is considered a great exercise for preventing falls as it engages large muscle groups in your legs and torso.

Mental Health  

Beyond the mental benefits that come from exercise, surfing provides other mental health benefits due to the unique nature of the sport. In fact, surfing is shown to improve mood, reduce, and even treat trauma and PTSD. Looking at the other benefits on this list, it’s easy to see why surfing is good for our mental health.

Fun

Health benefits aside, surfing is just plain fun. Any surfer will tell you surfing is an addictive and exciting sport that provides a sense of freedom. It allows you to have fun while strengthening your body, mind, and soul.

Social

Surfing offers a lot of opportunities to make friends. Surfing in groups can help you meet new people, as can surfing clubs, lessons, and surf camps. You’ll be surprised how little age seems to matter between surfers in the water– the ocean (and its waves) is a great equalizer!

 

Travel

Surfing provides inspiration to travel, and travel with intention. Skip the tourist spots and souvenir shops and explore the planet’s most beloved surfing beaches. We have a pretty incredible one herein Playa Venao, Panama ;)

It’s Never Too Late: How to Get Into Surfing for Older Adults

Whether you haven’t surfed in years or have never touched a surfboard, it’s never too late to get into surfing. Here are a few tips to make it an easier, safer, and more enjoyable experience.

 

Choose the right surf destination.

Surf destinations vary in skill level, wave size, wind speed, and other factors that can make for an easier or more difficult surf break. To have more fun and decrease your chances of getting hurt, choose a surf destination that is conducive to beginning surfers.

 

You want a surf destination that has:

●     A soft, sandy bottom (no sharp rocks or coral)

●     Semi-shallow (waist-to-chest deep) areas to learn

●     Slow, long rows of waves rolling toward shore

●     Relatively consistent waves year-round

●     Waves for all skill levels so you can advance

 

Our location in Playa Venao, Panama offers these conditions, and is known as one of the best beginner surf spots in Central America. Many of our guests– including older adults– come back year after year because our location (and vibes) are hard to beat.

I came back [to Playa Venao] because of the waves here...you can select the size. Florida does not have big waves so we had to get used to a little bigger size, but you can start small at the baby beach, go to the teenage beach, maybe if we’re lucky we get to the grown-up beach.”

-       Caroline, Central Florida

“I like a smaller wave. Waist-high to chest-high is my favorite, and glassy! Also there’s no real rocks [in Playa Venao]. You’ve got a sandy beach break, which is unusual for Central America.”

-       Paula, North Carolina

Get some help.

Surf lessons are fun, rewarding, and can help you feel more confident in the water.

Even if you have some experience, it’s helpful to sign up for a surf camp or a few private lessons. Surf instructors know the local breaks like the back of their hand– they can tell you where to get in, how to paddle out efficiently, and which spots are best for your skill level.

Of course, they’re also there to help get you out on the wave, up on your board, and are waiting with the biggest high five when you catch one!

“I came here as a beginning surfer two years ago, and now I’m surfing with my peeps on the big waves, thanks to Brent [the surf coach] and all the wonderful help I’ve had here.”

-       Caroline, Central Florida

Not to brag, but– we have surfers from around the world return to Beach Break every year specifically to work with Brent – our world-class surf instructor. Brent is known to accelerate surfer progress, from beginners who are just learning to stand up to more advanced surfers (including older ones) chasing bigger and faster breaks.

 

Stay at the right place.

Many surf destinations are known for having – in addition to waves – a party atmosphere that might not be the right vibe for older adults. Be wary of “top destinations,” as these are more likely to attract a larger crowd and offer serious nightlife. No one (especially over the age of 25) wants to go to bed (or try) as the nearby nightclub pumps electronica until 3 a.m.!

“I came back [to Beach Break] because I so love the vibe, the atmosphere, and how wonderful it is here.”

-       Caroline, Central Florida

While Playa Venao offers some nightlife, you’re not going to find the kind of massive blow-outs that you’ll find in Cancun (well, unless it’s a holiday!) Our hotel at Beach Break is known for being quiet, laid-back and family-friendly. It’s not that we don’t like to have fun – we do! We just want to get up early to catch those morning waves – and our guests tend to agree.

“We’ve been traveling a long time...Eden’s been to Costa Rica 14 times, we’ve been to El Salvador, Nicaragua, but what we found here is that the hotel is right on the break, so that really makes a difference. You can eat, look at the waves, and time when you want to paddle out. A lot of places we’ve been, you have to drive to the break, and here you don’t have to worry about any of that. And that’s what makes it so easy..”

-       Paula, North Carolina

 

Bring(or Make) Friends in the Line-Up!

Ask any surfer and they’ll tell you– one of the best parts about surfing is the sense of camaraderie you feel with other surfers. Well, sometimes. Surfers can be territorial, with some surf spots known for having more or less friendly faces in the line-up.

It helps to choose a surf destination that is known for its friendly locals and surfers, like our location in Playa Venao, Panama. Bringing a friend along– or making a new one– will help you have fun and feel more confident out in the water.

Don’t feel nervous about meeting others in the line-up – one of the best parts about surfing as an older adult is the general respect and friendliness you get from others.

“You get out through the break, and you’re sitting waiting for a wave, and they’ll[other surfers] smile at you. They're not trying to cut you off or anything, sometimes they'll even say ‘take that one.’ It’s great.”

Eden, Cocoa Beach, Florida

 

Simplify Your Travels

Some of the world’s best surfing destinations can be a little hard to get to, which is arguably part of what makes them so great. Many surf breaks, particularly outside the U.S., require long, tedious drives over pothole-laden roads and questionable GPS signals.

It’s part of the journey, of course, but why not simplify that journey when you can? Choose a surf spot that is relatively easy to get to– and find a hotel (like Beach Break) that will bring you straight from the airport in our private, air-conditioned, WIFI-equipped shuttles.

“It is really easy to get here, rather than going on your own trip to Costa Rica without any guides or anything. [In Costa Rica,] you get to the airport, you have to get the car, you think you’re gonna die getting out of San Jose, you get lost, you have a fight with whoever you’re traveling with. Then you get there, and don’t know if there are any rocks or you’re gonna die in the lineup. You come here [to Beach Break] and it’s all just easy. “
“The airport transport is amazingly good, you can just relax, it doesn’t seem like a 5-hour drive at all. “

 

Take the Holistic Approach

Surfing is a holistic mind-body experience. Just like it’s hard to exercise on an empty stomach, it’s hard to really “get” surfing without tapping into your physical, mental, and emotional state.

Maybe that’s why surfing and meditation so often go hand-in-hand, as do surfing and yoga and even surfing and martial arts. Surfers tend to lead active, healthful lifestyles– filled with healthy foods, movement, and mindsets– and limit negative or neutral forces like alcohol and screen time.

Of course, there’s no need to drink the(all-natural, sugar-free) Kool Aid to get into surfing as an older adult. You’re just as welcome to come, surf all day, and drink all evening (we make a killer marg). But don’t be surprised if surfing inspires you to make other healthy lifestyle choices. After all, anything to catch that next great wave.

 

Surfing for Older Adults at Beach Break

Few things make us happier at Beach Break Surf Camp than helping older adults enjoy the waves. Maybe that’s why so many Silver Surfers, like Caroline, Paula, and Eden, keep coming back for more.

Want to try out surfing for seniors at Beach Break? Learn more about our surf camp packages or contact us so we can help you arrange your ideal visit. See you in the waves!

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