Whitney K.

If you're considering taking surf lessons in NYC, and you googled around, you probably came up with a short list of schools to pick from. And although I started surfing with a different school at Rockaway Beach, I am here to tell you why you should not make that mistake and instead take all your lessons at Locals Surf School.

First things first: learning to surf is not cheap, and you will not want to feel like you spent the cost of a monthly gym membership on a lesson for which the school had no record that you signed up (a sassy lady tells you so) and during which you have the impression that the instructor does not even know your name. That's bogus. With Locals, the guys await your arrival on the beach, and when you get there they will probably already know who you are. Then, when you come back for another lesson (which you will), they will still remember you and greet you with even more enthusiasm.

Second, you also do not want to spend the cost of ten ballet classes on one surf lesson during which you feel like you aren't really learning anything or the conditions (waves, wind, tide, weather) just aren't worth it. At Locals, 1) the instructors are truly exceptional teachers (as a teacher myself, I am particularly judge-y in this respect) and 2) they cancel lessons when the conditions are not cooperating. (This is important. Recently, I observed as a different surf school tried to hold lessons on a really big day when Locals had cancelled theirs. No one was hurt, but I don't think anyone learned much, either.)

Allow me to illustrate Locals' superiority by sharing examples of my experience with various instructors. First, we have Dillon, who is the most zen but rigorous guy. He gives you feedback on each and every wave. It is impossible to finish a lesson with "Daddy" and not feel like you improved your surf game physically and mentally. Plus, he should go into standup. Then, there is "LeBaron" Aaron, an old-school ass-kicker. He is kind of the opposite of Dillon, but you need that sometimes. He screamed at me once until I started paddling like I meant it. We have a love-hate relationship, and he's totally irreplaceable. I've also worked with Joe, who was there the day my friend and I spent two hours in the water in great conditions and caught all our own waves. He knew when to let us do our thing and what to say to help us do it even better. Owner number one, Mike Reinhart, is also very zen, with a steely manner that gives you confidence you will be able to read the ocean and as well as he does. Then, if you're lucky and the waves slow down, he might loosen up and give you his cowboy impression, transform Bob Seger hits into inspirational paddling songs, or teach you the reverse takeoff 360. Last but never least, owner number two, Mike "King Kook" Kololyan is a bit of everyone rolled into one - it's no wonder he runs the show.

Best of all, the Locals instructors, more than any school on the beach, constitute a true community of surfers who communicate with and care for each other and their students. No matter who you get, they've heard your story, they've been paying attention, and when you get out there, they know how to put you to work. You don't waste time, you don't waste money, and your surf stoke can't help but grow. With Locals, I feel like I am a part of something bigger, definitely more than just some girl who needs a lesson at 11am. They give you that essential piece of taking part in the surf world: Locals brings the Aloha to New York City. Why are you researching surf lessons if you don't want more of that in your urban rat race of a life? 

You'll soon be wishing you could paddle out with the Locals everyday.