We been getting a lot of hits lately from people asking “is el porto a good place to learn?” So, we though we’d address this question.
No, El Porto is probably not the best place to learn to surf. El Porto has two major obstacles to learning.
First, El Porto can get really crowded. It’s always better to learn in a area where you have some room. Jockeying for waves is not something you want to learn in conjunction with learning to surf. (One step at a time, young Jedi.) Also, you will get a lot less waves in a crowded situation. The best way to learn is to catch as many waves as you can and learn from the errors.
Second, the waves can get pretty heavy (and the break can be pretty far outside). When learning, look for smaller waves with an easy paddle out. A rookie mistake is for a newb to spend all their arm strength getting out to the break, then finding themselves zapped of energy. Then you may quite literally be in over your head. (This I tell you from experience.)
In LA, a new surfer would be better off learning around Santa Monica, probably on the north side of the pier. In Orange County, good places to learn are Bolsa Chica and Surfside. Both of these breaks tend to have lighter surf conditions with less crowds. Take some time to build up your arm strength, stamina and skill level before venturing out to El Porto (or any of the other high traffic beaches). Also, steer away from piers. For some reason the closer you get to a pier the more “agro” and territorial the surfers tend to get.
And a side note on board choice: start with something longer, like 9 feet. I know surfing looks cool on a short board, but a longer board will catch waves with less energy and be easier to balance. Then gradually scale yourself down 6 inches at a time. If you start on a short board, there’s a good chance you will quickly become frustrated and give up all together. And that would be a damn shame because surfing is the greatest thing you will ever do.