Learning to surf is something that both Janey and I have wanted to do. But we never found ourselves out on the coast. So when we found ourselves working at a center that offered unlimited surf time with guaranteed waves we got in the water as soon as we could. The conditions are amazing! Warm water. A mixture of beginner, intermediate, and advanced waves. Plus, waves are guaranteed every 90 seconds. Oh, did I mention it is in the middle of the Welsh Mountains?
The center is called Adventure Parc Snowdonia (aka Surf Snowdonia). It opened back 2015 as the world’s first commercial artificial surfing lake. The pool is 300m long and 110m wide and filled with six million gallons of fresh water. Surf Snowdonia claim it to be the longest man-made surf wave in the world. The pool has an arm that runs down the middle every 90 seconds and creates a wave on either side. The bottom of the pool is contoured and so it can generate 3 different sized waves on every run. The largest of which is 2m tall and can last for 16 seconds. Now 16 seconds doesn’t sound long but when you are on a board, it can seem a lifetime.
A really cool feature is that the water in the pool is cleaned every 24 hours. The water passes through ultraviolet cleaners. This allows the pool to stay chlorine-free. The pool is purely clean and fresh rain water. It also has space for over 50 surfers at one time so there is plenty of space for everyone! Its biggest focus in helping those learning to surf as about 40 of its spaces are available for the ‘beginner bays’.
Learning to Surf
Everyone must take at least one surf lesson before we are allowed to be let loose in the pool. Experienced surfers and those just learning to surf. This is so that you go through the safety briefing and the instructors can test you skills and decide which of the waves you are allowed to be on. Janey and I are complete beginners and so this rule didn’t bother us at all. We need all the help we can get! On land, they went through the ‘theory’ of surfing. We all had a board and practiced (on land) paddling away from the wave and then and then popping up on our boards into a stance position. Needless to say, we need a lot more work on this but we understood the basics.
Soon it was time to head out onto the wave. Janey and I were super excited. The instructors (Gordie & Lucy) came out in the water with us and gave us some more tips. There most crucial role though was to tell us when to start paddling. The wave in the pool is really fast. If you don’t paddle fast then you will miss the wave and just wash over the top. It definitely happened to us both a couple times. But we are quick learners and soon got used to the speed of the wave.
How we Were Taught
Gordie and Lucy’s teaching was really clear and methodical. First we practice just trying to paddle and catch the wave. They helped us focus on ‘body boarding’. Basically we paddle until we catch the wave. Then we put our hands on the board and under our chest and push up (like a ‘Cobra’ yoga pose). When we are confident then we try to pop up on our boards. Janey and I found it was a great way to learn to surf. As we found out, popping up is a lot harder than it looks. We crashed out. A lot. Ha!
But crashing out meant that when you did catch a wave and successfully pop up, it felt so good!
I find surfing a lot like kayaking and other water sports. You have to look in the direction that you are going, put on an edge and basically have good balance. I found it easy to adjust to surfing and take the skills I’d learnt in other sports to surfing.
We’ve been a few times since and each time we can feel ourselves getting better. The first time we only stood up on one or two waves. Then we stood up about a third of waves. Now, we can confidently pop up on 50% to 75% of waves in the Beginner Bay. Bring on the Intermediate Wave!
What do we think of Surf Snowdonia?
Surf Snowdonia is an awesome place for those learning to surf. And for those who are already a keen surfer. We would defiantly recommend it to everyone! It is a bit pricey through. The minimum 1 hour wave price is £35 for the beginner wave and goes up to £50 if you want the advanced wave! You’ve then got board and wet suit hire. Unless you have your own. We work at the center and so are lucky enough to get free surfing if there is a space. Pretty ideal for us! But if you don’t have that big a budget – the sea is always free!
Hopefully see you out on the waves!