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Surfing While Plus Size | Is It Possible? | Plus Size Travel

January 14, 2019

Surfing While Plus Size | Is It Possible? | Plus Size Travel

January 14, 2019

Last week I was invited on a press trip to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. We were going to experience the Island during the glorious winter sun, taking part in some incredible adventures along the way. 

I was invited on the trip quite last minute, so when it came to looking over the itinerary I only had a few minutes to look over it before I was packing my suitcase and heading to the airport. I saw that we were going to be taking part in some water sports including paddle boarding and surfing, but I was feeling brave and excited to try something new so said yes.

When we arrived the weather was a little colder than we had originally planned, and because of the tide it meant we were only able to do surfing – something I tried YEARS ago, but never actually made it onto the board when I was in the water. 

On the morning of our surf lesson, I was feeling very very nervous as when I tried it last time I weighed roughly six stone less and I had a lot more core strength than I do now – not to mention my fear of sea water. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though, and made my way to the beach with the rest of the group.

Getting Changed

When we got there we were handed our wetsuits and as everyone got theirs I was nervously thinking oh my god, they’re tiny!

How the hell was I going to fit into that?! 

Luckily they handed me a bigger one, but when I was tried to fit into it I really really struggled. There was a crowd of people standing at a nearby by van looking over as I could barely get the suit over my leg. I could sense people watching me and I felt so so awkward, so I took it off and told the instructors that it didn’t fit.

The instructor told me to wait a minute and came back with a plastic bag to put my foot into – this helped them to slide the suit over my feet and up to my knees. I was MORTIFIED having everyone there see that I very obviously couldn’t fit and I was having to have help from TWO instructors so I told them to stop and asked if I could just use my swimming costume and thankfully they said yes. I don’t know what I’d have done if they said no as I was so embarrassed just squeezing my leg in, imagine how I’d have felt trying to squeeze the rest of myself into something that is designed to be skin tight. 

Once I’d given them the wetsuit back they gave me a blue wetsuit style t-shirt to wear so they could tell I was with their group. We made our way down to the beach where the instructor carried my board down, as he said it may have been too heavy. I probably would have managed fine, but it was a nice gesture.

Warm Ups and Training 

Everyone was already standing at the beach ready at this point, so I joined the group to do some warm-up exercises. If I’m being quite honest, I’m not the fittest of people so even the warm-up had me a little out of breath. We did get to play a fun game where we chased other around playing tag though! 

After we’d warmed up and done so stretches, the surf instructors gave us some really helpful info about how the current works and how waves are formed. I answered every question wrong, which doesn’t surprise me as I’m so scared of being in the sea.

We then had a little lesson on how to use our board whilst we were waiting on the sand. I was asked to switch places with one of the other girls so I could use a bigger, stronger board. This didn’t bother me so much and honestly, made me feel much safer. We learnt how to get onto our boards (which involved A LOT of giggling) and how to position ourselves and paddle. I felt as though this would be irrelevant as I wasn’t expecting to be able to get myself on the board at all.

When they started talking about standing on the board they showed everyone the regular technique, then explained to me a way to get up that involved getting on my knees, rather than having to stand up completely. I felt like they were really understanding but I said that I don’t think I’d get to that point, so I was going to sit out this part. It was great fun to watch everyone else jumping up into their boards whilst on the sand, but I did feel a little as though anyone that was on the beach would look over and presume I wasn’t doing it because I was lazy. It’s so frustrating to think like that and worry what everyone else thinks, but everyone else on the beach was so athletic and I definitely stuck out. 

Going In The Water

After our lesson, we made our way into the water, but I held back for a little bit to get myself together. Not only am I scared of being in the sea, but I was nervous about surfing and so I felt like I needed a couple of minutes before grabbing my board and going in.

When I first went in I just wanted to get used to the power of the waves on my board. I walked around (it was waist level) and pushed my board towards the waves to get used to it. Some of them were quite powerful so I was already feeling as though I wouldn’t be able to get on my board at all, especially as they were coming thick and fast. At this point, the instructor noticed me and came over.

He tried to convince me to go on board but I said I was too scared, so he walked me over to a bit of sea where the waves weren’t crashing as much. When we go to this point he asked me to jump on the board and after I couple of attempts, I was able to get on okay. I forgot how much easier it is to jump and climb things when your weight is being carried by the water, so being able to get on within a few attempts made me feel a little bit more at ease. I was facing the waves at this point so they were crashing in my face, which scared me as that’s what I didn’t like about snorkelling so close to shore back in Bali. Once the instructor turned the board around it was a little bit easier and I just felt like I was bobbing around. 

Riding A Wave

The next thing the instructor wanted me to do was to ride one of the waves, so when the next ‘big’ wave came our way he pushed my board into it and I followed a few of them through until they broke. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, but in those split few seconds, I was having so much fun. I felt as though I had done something I’d never be able to do at my size, and although I didn’t stand up, I was proud of myself for getting in the water despite my fears. 

After I’d ridden the one wave whilst lying down the instructor wanted me to go further out to ride something bigger. I was unsure, but he made me feel safe so I said okay. I got on the board and he pushed me back so I wasn’t hitting the big waves face on. Before we managed to get to the calm part of the sea I ended up slipping off on a big wave and was too scared to get back on as I was struggling to get my breath back after swallowing a mouthful of water. We pushed the board against the waves to help ‘ride’ them whilst not on it, but the waves were a bit too much for me – especially as at one point they were too big we had to go under them, rather than over. 

I decided to call it a day and so the instructor took my board and I walked down to where it was a little quieter and chilled out there before going to enjoy the sun for a little bit.

In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a great sport for plus size people as it requires a lot of core strength to be able to push yourself up into a standing position, but I’d definitely recommend trying it and using it as a bit of a boogie board instead. Also, if you’re unsure about a wetsuit ask if you can change in a changing room or if you can wear your own swimming costume.

Have you ever surfed before? I’d love to hear your experiences! 
Kirsty Leanne

  • Roma Small January 30, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Thanks for writing this! I had a similar wetsuit anxiety in Florida, glad to know I’m not alone!


    My mission is simple. I want to help change the way travel looks, showing both brands and society that plus size people really do travel too. In a community where plus size travellers are made to feel unwelcome, I want to inspire and advise people like me on how they can make the most out of their own incredible travel experiences.Join me as I share my own personal experiences, my best tips and tricks and all of the challenges I face along the way. It won’t always be an easy ride, but it sure as hell will be a fun one.

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