Surfing Lesson in the Dominican Republic and its Life Lessons

By Ally Hornsby

Surfing Lesson Cabarete Dominican Republic

In this blog, I share the experience of my surfing lesson in the Dominican Republic, and the life lessons that arose from that eye-opening experience.

Months ago, I’d followed my heart (which doesn’t always lead me in the right direction!) to Costa Rica to spend some time with someone. He had been surfing and I decided to take a lesson myself. Surfing was never something I had thought to myself, ‘I must try.’ I was never super comfortable with getting too far out in massive bodies of water. I’m more of a jump-out-of-an-airplane type.

First Surfing Lesson

Either way, here I was in Costa Rica, trying to live in the now, so I had my first surfing lesson. I ended up doing pretty well. I was able to stand up and ride a couple of waves a few times. But I did find myself worried about what I looked like, as I was obviously falling over a lot, too, and I definitely didn’t look ‘cool’ yet. I know that I’ve always struggled with not caring what other people think, and I think, unfortunately, that took away from some of my enjoyment of the moment. I tried to live in the now, but I was more uncomfortable than I cared to admit at the time. But I tried and had been successful to a point and was satisfied with my attempt.

Fast forward to my current location in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Before, I had no idea I’d ever live somewhere where I had the option to surf every day! And, as a lot of people living on a beach do, I decided to learn to surf again. Not just one surfing lesson, either. I wanted to conquer that little bit of fear in me and make surfing something I was comfortable doing any day of the week. Part of me wanted it to be something I could call my own after my first lesson with someone else. I wanted to write my own surfing memories and make more, many more.

Surfing Lesson in the Dominican Republic

So here I was, saying I’d surf, but just doing a lot of talking. I kept finding excuses and putting it off until a Tuesday night, while having dinner with friends, one of them asked me if I’d like to join, and I suddenly realized I had no excuse. So I told her I’d meet her at 7:45 the next morning. On Wednesday morning, I got up at 7 a.m. Thankfully, due to a week of early mornings and recently acquiring an early riser as a roommate, the time didn’t feel too terrible. I tried to dress myself accordingly, although I knew my bottoms might be a problem. I hadn’t prepared myself yet with awesome surf swag. I even thought to myself, ‘I probably won’t even go out there today, so no worries.’ I hadn’t even booked a lesson or anything.

So I met my friend at her place and piled into the Jeep with her three amazing little boys and their family dog (a real-life Nana the dog). We drove the boys to their school, and then headed back to Encuantro Beach. On the way, I even told my friend, “I’ll probably just hang out, meet people, and prepare my first lesson for another day.” But when we got there, she asked her teachers if I could use one of the lessons she’d already paid for someone else. They agreed and I got ready, although I didn’t feel ready at all, just like in Costa Rica. Completely out of my comfort zone suddenly! These days, I’m learning that that’s where all the best things happen.

Going with the Flow

I started my surfing lesson with two other girls, which helped a lot. Soon, I realized the teaching style was quite chill, compared to my lesson in Costa Rica (or maybe I was more chill?). Before I knew it I was suited up (thankfully, all the Encuantro beach surf schools have rash guard tops for us to use) and heading out to meet our teacher in the water. We got straight into it. Almost right away, I stood up and felt comfortable and balanced. The first time I did this was almost five months earlier, but it felt natural and almost easier than last time. I wasn’t whipped around and slaughtered by waves. I felt controlled and found myself smiling from ear to ear. It dawned on me that I was out there in the Dominican Republic, surfing, enjoying life, and just doing me. Going with the flow and enjoying the now. I realized how relaxed and free I felt since I’d been learning lately how to not be concerned with how other people viewed me.

Being new is okay. Trying something and not being perfect right away is okay. I was free and I could screw up and look funny without worrying about someone judging me. I even found myself learning quickly from mistakes I made that made me miss a wave or fall off too early. I was able to fix said mistake and adjust myself. I found myself in a groove. It definitely felt meant to be. I was sore in a few new ways but kept going until I surfed perfectly (most likely, not so perfectly, but I stood up the whole way) into shore to where my friend was waiting for me. I got out and gushed about how excited I was, as we walked back to get ready to leave. The euphoria I felt was so awesome!

Riding the Wave

I ended up riding that euphoric feeling almost all day. And it wasn’t even because I’d stood up multiple times or done better than I had expected. I was so glad that I’d finally gone out and gotten back on the board. I’d forced myself to do something I’d been talking about. I stopped making excuses like ‘It’s so early’, ‘I’m so tired’, ‘Next time!’, and I just went out and tried my hardest. I fell a bunch, but as I said, I really enjoyed myself. I stopped caring about what the other people around me were doing and possibly thinking, and about what I looked like to them. I told myself to embrace the moment and be grateful for what was in front of me. A beautiful beach that I lived minutes away from. The ocean that ebbs and flows and changes in the same way that life does. A friend who wanted me to join her in her morning passion, and a chance to learn more about myself than I ever thought possible.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!”

Surf, snorkel, and swim to your heart’s content at our circus retreats in Cabarete.