Learn To Surf and Stay in Byron Bay
My First Ever Lesson
My first ever and only surf lesson was with a dude named Terry Hannon in Byron Bay and it turns out he was the first surf instructor in the area so after my lesson I felt kind of privileged.
I've since become his friend and am doing a bit online for his surf school. Hence this little hub.
Terry is an old style Aussie dude. He is easy going and a laugh a minute but he stays well away from the internet and computers which he finds a bit intimidating.
When it comes to surfing though, he knows his stuff back to front as he goes out almost every single day of the year.
He knows surfing and beginner surfing really well and has become a bit of a legend in his area and even has a reputation in other parts of the world, not least because Byron Bay in Australia seems to attract travelers from all over giving it a great rap as a meeting place with huge potential for making new friendships.
In that sense it is a great place to have fun and mingle and it was originally known as a meeting place by the local Aboriginals. It is also Australia's most easterly point.
When you go for a surf trip in Byron with Terry - actually he takes you slightly south of the bay itself, you will also get a barrage of his peculiarly funny sayings which makes the trip a laugh if you can get the irreverent Aussie humor.
In Australia, if people make fun of you and things, IT MEANS THEY LIKE IT USUALLY - might take a while to get that one. It's called "taking the micky" and you are never supposed to get upset or take anything too personally or the wrong way. In fact, you are supposed to have a "come back" - something that turns the laugh back on Terry.
Imagine if the rest of the world had Australian etiquette! like that!
Might seem funny that, but it's the way these Aussies do it and Terry is a classic in that respect.
He calls his guarantee that you will ride and surf a wave first time a WORLD EXCLUSIVE.
He actually promises you will get your money back if you don't stand up and ride a wave for 40 metres.
When I first heard this guarantee it cracked me up. Who guarantees a money back surf lesson?
Terry and The Kool Katz pick everyone up in their slightly battered buses. The pickup is a feature of the lesson and is included in the price. You will also be dropped back to wherever you are staying in Byron Bay and that is included in the price.
Being a backpacker party town with great relaxing beaches, Byron is full of accommodation and one can get a great deal combining Surf Lessons with somewhere to stay. You get to save on BOTH giving you a place to stay and something fun to do at the same time.
When Terry started giving people his now famous lessons, there were no other Surf Schools in the area. Now every man and his dog is giving surf lessons it seems.
I'm not sure what the other schools are like but I'm sure they have their great points too for the most part because after all it is the activity that counts - learning to surf and getting in with a group of people who together can get a great laugh out of it - that's what it is all about when you are all trying to get up and ride a wave for the first time.
Terry and The Kool Katz Team also take children - he has taken children as young as 4 years of age.
Hen's parties and bachelor's parties combined with surf lessons is also a great way to go if you've got one of those coming up and you are heading for Byron Bay and if you make sure you are not hungover from the night before because it's going to be hard to stand up and ride waves with a hangover!!!
Dry Run on The Beach
The tide and swell conditions will determine the time and place of the lesson but the aim is to find a location which is not too big for beginners. Once you arrive at the beach, everyone gets out and puts on a rash vest and wetsuit over their swimmers and you spend about 20 minutes on the beach learning the technique of getting up and Terry gives a bit of a safety talk too.
When you are in the water, timing waves is one of the keys to getting a ride and Terry or one of the other qualified instructors will assist you to time a wave into shore.
This is when you use the techniques you've just been shown on the beach. The fact the boards are all long softboards also helps to make it easier to get up and ride.
It is a well known fact that beginners are better starting on longer boards and working their way down to smaller boards as their ability and balance improves.
Little boards are much harder to control so the soft long boards are ideal starting boards for beginners. They are made from a spongy material rather than hard shiny fiberglass so you won't do much damage to yourself falling off.
First time up looks a little awkward but it's a thrill
When you take your board into the water, notice how the fin end is down in the sand. It can get pretty windy on some of these Aussie beaches so keeping the fin end down means the wind can't send the board flying which can be a bit of a hazard for anyone you happen to be walking past. Just drag it along and you should be right!