Three Wagoners walk into the ocean with surfboards, 1 gets up, 1 goes down, and the other went weeee weeee weeee all day long. We are just having too much fun on our 8 week summer road trip through Spain & France. This time we are surfing in Santander. Well, 3 of the Wagoners are.
Yes, I am such a good wife and mother and booked surfing lessons for Alan and the kids. I used a cool site for local experiences called Trip4Real and found a really good deal for 3 hour lessons. I know it takes much longer to learn the sport, but I thought it would be a good intro for the family to get a little taste of surfing. The surfing lessons were actually in Loredo, a smaller town near Santander. This was a cloudy day, unlike our day exploring Santander on the hop-on hop-off bus.
Why don’t you see me out there? Well, someone has to stay back and take photos and videos right? Well, that is one excuse. The real truth is… I lived in San Diego many moons ago and bought an 8 foot surfboard for $5 at the flea market. I used to take that thing out and do my best to surf, without a leash by the way (stupid). Anyway, I learned back then it just wasn’t my thing. I am not quick and agile and I really don’t like crashing, which I was really good at.
So this post is a full family post. Yep, each surfing Santander Wagoner will give you a little snippet of their experience. We will start with the youngest Wagoner and move on up to the Big Guy. Enjoy!
Anya Surfing Santander Spain
My mom booked surfing lesson for us, when we were in Santander Spain. At first I wasn’t too excited, but I said I would try it anyway. When we arrived we had to change into wetsuits. For me it was easy to put on because I am used to wearing legging pants. For Lars it was more difficult, he had to try on a 2 different wetsuits and he put the first one on backwards.
How to stand up on the surfboard
Once we were dressed, the instructor had Lars and I carry 2 surfboards together then we walked down to the beach. When we were on the beach he taught us the 3 steps to stand up on the board. We kept practicing on the sand until we got it down.
- Position yourself on your belly, with your feet at the end of the board and paddle
- Push yourself up with your arms and your hips to the board
- Jump up on your legs quickly, with your weight on your back foot, to keep the board up in the front.
We did this for a while and then we had to carry the boards to the water. Once the water was deep enough, we hopped on the boards and paddled out to wait for the waves. I caught a few waves, but just couldn’t get up. I had fun anyway and couldn’t stop screaming weeee weeee weeee. It was so much fun, I hope you try it and I will definitely do it again.
Lars – Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how
I have done a lot of cool things in my life, but never surfing… at least until we were in Santander during our road trip across Spain and France.
Anyway, contrary to your expectation of us Hangin’ Ten after the first few attempts, only one of the three Wagoners (Alan, Anya and Me) managed to stand up on the board. It wasn’t papa Wagoner (don’t worry, we don’t call him that), I’m sure you’ll get the full scoop from him a bit later in this post.
It also wasn’t Anya, so that leaves… Me!!
Surfing Santander Champion
Yes, I was the Wagoner’s Abroad Surfing Champion, who knows maybe I’m the next [insert famous surfer here], or the more likely case: I just did the right things on the right wave.
The first time I got up and ‘surfed’ my way to shore was definitely my best ride of the day; it lasted the longest (8 seconds) and I felt like I was in control. In contrast, the other times (once or twice more) I managed to stand up on the surfboard for a measly few seconds right before the wave swept the board from under me, or I simply lost my balance and fell.
Overall, it was a great experience, one that sparked a desire to learn how to surf. Sadly we were only there for a day, so for now, my surfing days are taking some time off.
Alan takes the big wave and…
Now some of you already know about my little incident, and I don’t want that to be your takeaway from this. Instead, I’ll get into the safety side of family experiences in a bit. OK, now on to my tale.
Surfing…ahhh…such a lovely sport. Becoming one with ocean. Feeling her pulse as you coordinate a dance amongst the waves harnessing their energy. The one downside (for me anyway), is that it requires coordination and balance. I am at a severe deficit in both categories, but I figured I would give it a try.
Practice make perfect
Once we had our wetsuits on (they actually had one my size!!), and made our way down to the beach, our instructor explained how to mount the board, and how to pop up to a standing position. The first time I tried popping up, the only popping I did was in my knees. I literally felt my knees popping when I was trying to get to a standing position.
“OK”, I thought to myself, “perhaps I won’t be doing any actual surfing, but I will be on a surfboard in the water, so I’m almost there!”. I know…That’s some serious self-delusion, but hey, I’m just glad to be on the water with the kids.
All of us were doing pretty well. The kids seemed to be getting the hang of it. They weren’t getting all the way up, but they were paddling, and catching the waves. I was catching the odd one as well on my small surfboard. It’s truly amazing to be pushed by a wave while riding a surfboard or body board.
“A big wave for a big guy”
We’re about 45 minutes into the lesson, and the instructor sees a big-ish wave, says, “A big wave for a big guy”, and with that gives me a push. It was a good-sized wave, and I’m on the board, trying to ride the wave as long as possible, and I moved just a tad too far forward on the board, and the front end caught, and I went over, and crashed hard, head first. Even though the water was only a few feet deep, I was underwater trying to get my bearings while being tossed around.
While underwater, the surfboard slammed into my face. I didn’t see it, but it really hit hard. The odd thing was that it didn’t hurt, but I do remember thinking to myself, “Holy crap! The board just slammed into my face…Hard!”. And then I stood up, and I instinctively covered my eye because there’s no way I could get hit that hard and not be bleeding.
Sidenote: Heidi was taking video, and caught my crash. What’s amazing is that during the video, you see the surfboard fly into the air, the ankle-leash becomes really tense, and the board slams into the water hitting me, and then bounces off to the side.
Which way do I go George?
And when I stood up, I actually felt OK, but the side of my face felt odd, and it did feel like I was bleeding. I wasn’t, it was just the water running down my face. As I’m making my way back to shore, it felt like someone tilted the ground about thirty degrees, so I couldn’t quite get my feet. I kept falling over, all the while saying, “I’m OK. I’m OK.”
The instructor was very quick to catch up to me, and help me walk over to Heidi. I asked him if I was bleeding, and he said no, but told me I would have a nice bruise. Whew! By the time I got to Heidi, there was already another instructor from the school. I wasn’t in pain, and once I got past the dizzy stage, I was fine. It was just the side of my face that felt weird.
All eyes on me
Once we got back to the surf shop, the owner already knew what happened, and asked me if I was OK. He got me some aspirin and some ice, and we were just chatting for a bit. He would occasionally ask me if I needed a doctor, or needed to go to the hospital. I told him that everything was OK, and after a while, I figured I should go back to the beach, just so Heidi wouldn’t worry.
I must have been a sight to see, because people were really looking at me funny. Once I found Heidi, she was relieved that I was OK, but did feel bad that I had a big shiner. So much for the modeling career.
So what’s my point?
I have two points:
- The Ocean/Sea Universe may be trying to tell me something. I bruised my big toe trying to windsurf in Mallorca. I also got a really nasty bruise on the back of my arm when the small catamaran I was on capsized. This latest surfing incident has me rethinking my dedication to water + board sports;
- The most important point is that accidents happen. The crew at Más Que Surf did an excellent job at handling my little accident, and were concerned with my well-being. The owner even called us the next morning to make sure I was OK (Thanks David!). Pretty fantastic service if you ask me. So when you’re doing/planning family adventures, make sure you’re comfortable with a company’s safety awareness. Does the equipment look well-serviced, and in good shape? Do the staff appear to be conscientious?
While my experience wasn’t stellar, the crew at Más Que Surf did an amazing job. Once I came back, I saw Lars stand up on the board briefly, and Anya looked like she was having a blast enjoying the waves. I’d rate that a success!
Watch Our Surfing Santander Video!
Heidi the Non-surfer
First of all I have to say, Alan looked really hot (you know a cutie pie) in his wetsuit.
While we didn’t quite teach you how to surf in this post, there are plenty of good tips of things you should and shouldn’t do. It was great fun watching them all go through the lesson on the beach and then put those skills to the test out in the water (excluding my hubby getting hurt).
The beach (Playa Somo) was absolutely gorgeous and soft powdery sand as far as the eye could see. This was obviously the surfing spot, because all I could see were surfers everywhere. I loved the entry to the beach with the rules posted on a surfboard too.
I think they all loved it and would give it another go. Surfing does take a while to perfect, so 3 hours certainly isn’t enough time for the average Joe to take to it. I think we may look into a surfing camp next time. I know there are a few near Cádiz or we can head north and try surfing Santander again.
Do you have experience surfing? Tell us about it.
Disclosure: This adventure was courtesy of Trip4Real, where you can find great activities with locals. All opinions and experiences are our own.