If learning how to surf in Destin-Fort Walton Beach isn’t on your itinerary, we suggest you add it now. The Gulf of Mexico may not have the reputation of Oahu’s North Shore or the rich surfing history of California’s Huntington Beach Pier, but do you know what it does have? Clear waters, soft, white sand, and low to mid-size waves provide the ideal classroom for budding surfers.

Dylan Sims, Head Instructor for Ride On Surf School, agrees. Dylan’s been surfing since he was 8. Now a sponsored Billabong team rider who has traveled worldwide in pursuit of the perfect wave, he also agrees that big waves aren’t always better. This makes Destin's calm waters the perfect place to start!

“The ideal day to go surfing is on a smaller day,” Dylan said. “You don’t need a whole lot of surf. About one foot is all you need to have fun.”

There are numerous surf schools in Destin-Fort Walton Beach to choose from. These schools include surfboards, instructors, and even surfer lingo school!

One of Dylan’s top tips to remember in class? Make sure the surfboard’s ankle leash is attached when in the water, and remember surf wax is a beginner surfer’s best friend.  

“The wax gives you traction so you can stay on the board while you’re surfing the wave,” he explained. Waxing your board before attempting to surf could help give you that extra bit of grip when you’re struggling to balance.

When not in class, be sure to get some practice in, even on land. Lie face down on a beach towel or yoga mat, hands palms down next to your shoulders. Lift and jump feet forward, so they’re under your hips and then rise into a low squat, twisting sideways, knees bent.

Surfing is truly an excellent exercise for both body and mind. Surfing forces you to focus on the here and now while using that core strength for balance. There’s no time to worry or think about anything other than paddling and standing on the board.

Surfing in the Gulf is an experience like no other and if you’re a beginner, Dylan has some sage advice: “The best tip I can give is to keep trying. Grab a buddy and go surfing.”