Provider: Surf Diva
Length: Two days
Price: $150 (hotel extra)
Eleven years ago, avid surfer Izzy Tihanyi and her twin sister Coco opened the first women's surf school, Surf Diva in La Jolla, California, after being inundated by requests for lessons from female friends and acquaintances. "Taking a lesson [at a co-ed surf school] back then was very intimidating for women, who often found themselves being the only woman in a group of mainly teenage boys," says Izzy Tihanyi. "I think guys just want to get in the water and give it a try. Women want to know the safety basics so that they feel more comfortable in the water, too. They also don't want to be judged or feel too competitive."
Surf Diva has since been joined by numerous other women's surf schools around the world, but remains at the forefront, running private, weekend, and weeklong clinics year-round in La Jolla, as well as Costa Rica surf vacations. The company also has its own line of women's surf gear and apparel.
Attending a two-day weekend clinic with Surf Diva is a good way for beginners to get started. "The conditions in La Jolla are perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers," says Tihanyi. After a discussion about equipment and safety, you'll practice basic techniques on the beach with instructors before moving out to the water. "Once everyone is completely comfortable and confident, the large group is divided into smaller groups and an instructor is assigned to each group, for closer attention," says Tihanyi. You'll try catching waves on your own and one-on-one with an instructor over the next day and a half, gradually working up to more challenging waves and techniques as your confidence grows.
After taking a class with a co-ed surf school that left her "feeling like a drag," Patricia Blake, a doctor from Florida, found that a weekend clinic with Surf Diva was just what she needed to feel self-assured in the water. "I think women feel empowered and emboldened when learning around women," says Blake, who was up and riding waves on her first day with Surf Diva and has since returned to the company with friends for more lessons and weeklong surf vacations.
Two-day clinics run almost every Saturday and Sunday as long as there are at least three participants. Prices include a rental surfboard and wetsuit and instruction. Accommodations and transportation are extra. Prices for stays at the nearby Hotel La Jolla start around $129 per night. La Jolla is a 25-minute drive from the San Diego airport.