Undoubtedly the most iconic Californian activity, a trip to Santa Barbara isn’t complete without a venture into surfing. While you’ll find plenty of locals out on the water on any good day, there are also many visitors who come to SB with little or no experience. For this, we’ve rounded up the best surf lessons in town to get you out and riding in no time:

Santa Barbara Surf School  

The Santa Barbara Surf School, typically located on the beautiful and expansive Santa Claus beach in Carpinteria, is the number one spot for all-inclusive lessons and experienced staff. Providing boards, leashes and wetsuits, all they leave you to do is make a reservation and show up with a bathing suit and towel. Private lessons start at $85/person and last for 1.5 hours.

Santa Barbara Surf School. Santa Barbara, CA. 805 708 9878.

Surf Happens

Surf Happens is where you head if you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in surf culture. Proponents of the ‘Aloha lifestyle,’ instructors here are passionate about sharing the history, values and etiquette of the sport, all while making sure you have as much attention possible and get up on your board on your first day. Private lessons start at $80 per person for one hour, but can be extended to two hours for $160 and include a ‘Surf Happens’ hat as well as photos from your session!

Surf Happens. 13 East Haley Street. 805 966 3613.

Mindbody Surf and Yoga School  

The Mindbody Surf and Yoga School is the perfect place to start for those who feel a little nervous about the prospect of learning to surf. Founded by Lindsay, the premise of these lessons is to make everyone feel as comfortable and safe as possible, all while enjoying and appreciating the historically soothing nature of the sport. Lessons start at $110 for 1.5 hours with a one-on-one instructor and are located at Campus Point near UCSB. This location is particularly suited for beginners and offers a small, consistent break.

Mindbody Surf and Yoga School. Isla Vista, CA. 619 972 7902.


The iSurf school in Santa Barbara is unique in that it offers the only lessons geared specifically towards girls and women. Operating under the philosophy that the more you are aware and understand your surroundings, the better your experience learning to surf will be, instructors here take particular care to make sure clients feel safe. For one person, each lesson costs $100 for 1.5 hours and, importantly, locations of each lesson are decided upon at the time you make your reservation so that they may find the best beach to suit your needs.

iSurf. 435 East Valerio Street. 805 695 3716.

A-Frame Surf

Surf lessons with A-Frame Surf, located right on the beach in Carpinteria is guaranteed to be your most local, authentic experience. A well-known, family-run business that is highly popular in Santa Barbara and down the coast, A-Frame prides itself on reasonably priced lessons led by passionate and experienced instructors. Lessons start at 90$ per person and last pretty much as long as you are having fun and continuing to learn from your teacher!

A-Frame Surf Lessons. 3785 Santa Claus Lane. 805 684 8803.