Surf’s Up in San Sebastián

Besides buying millions of macarons, my 13-year old sister had one other wish for our French-Spanish vacation- she wanted to go surfing. And she wanted me to come with her.

To that, I responded, “Are you crazy, it’s April! The water’s going to be freezing.”

To which she responded, “All you care about is eating and speaking other languages!”


With the heavy accusation of, “You are seriously at risk of becoming a grandma,” hanging in my face, I booked an hour-long lesson with Pukas Surf School in San Sebastián.


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Sister (and neoprene) love!

The next thing I knew, I was sleepily sitting on a beach at 10 a.m., clad in a skintight wesuit, and getting yelled at by a large Spanish man.


I’m not sure if you guys have noticed this yet, but I’m not all that athletically inclined. Yes, I can appreciate a vigorous hike and I played varsity tennis in high school, but extreme sports aren’t really my thing- I’m a massive scaredy-cat when it comes to getting potentially injured.

So needless to say, I was displeased when the instructor began the lesson by having me stand up and then shoving me to the sand.

“You’re goofy,” he declared, judging by how I had leapt forward with my left foot.

Then we began simulating getting up on a board, in which he scolded me some more. “No knees! Never the knees!”

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Next, it was time to put theory into practice. Upon feeling the glacially cold water, I found that I was comfortable due to my very thick wetsuit. (And maybe being from Michigan finally offers a pay-back?)

What I wasn’t comfortable with was the rip tide. I’ve honestly never felt such a strong current in my life, especially not when a giant board is attached to my ankle. And though I had been somewhat able to jump up on the board while on dry land, it was like my mind was erased clean once I hit the water. The waves were throwing me to shore like a discarded rag doll- even the instructor said the current was unusually strong.

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So after about 45 minutes of trying and failing at getting up, I heaved my board onto the sand and spent the rest of the lesson doing something I am much more athletically suited for- taking pictures.

fm3HSD on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

And after some spectacular wipe-outs, my little sis’ kind of got up! For only an hour-long lesson, I was impressed.

MomKristi Trip


Overall we had a great experience with Pukas. Despite a little well-deserved scolding, the instructor was warm, funny and very knowledgable. Also the price was right at 27 euros per person, including board and wet suit rental (the lesson was semi-private so there were no other students). The beautiful beach is only steps away from the surf school as well.


This lesson just felt like a tease- I really want to try surfing again, albeit with more than a one-hour lesson and preferably in warmer waters. And next time I promise (well, I hope, anyway) that I’ll catch a wave.


Pukas Surf Eskola

Av. Zurriola 24 20002 San Sebastián


Pukas in no way paid or perked me for this post. I just honestly had a great experience with them- keep them in mind if you want to try surfing on Spain’s north coast! 

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

12 thoughts on “Surf’s Up in San Sebastián”

  1. That looks awesome and it seems you did pretty well! Sounds like a good price, too! I’m planning on giving surfing a try when I visit Chile this fall!

  2. This looks like fun! I’ve never gone surfing before (or gone anywhere where that would have been a possibility), but I’d love to give it a go – though I probably will absolutely fail at this! :) Glad your sister got to fulfill that dream of hers!


  3. This is something I really dream about doing myself one day! I guess I should plan for a couple days of lessons if I have the time :) And maybe it’s good to go early in the season actually — when there aren’t so many people on the beach to see my sad attempts at athleticism! :p

  4. Hey, this is great! Nicely documented, I love the animated gif as well. Surfing takes time to learn. I always ask people who start not to give up – it really just gets better and better. Lessons are great, but they can get pricey – if you’re interested I’ve written an eBook with everything you need to know from board selection to how to read a surf forecast. Oh yes, and it’s totally free.

    I’d love to see more posts like this with your progress. I love hearing surfing success stories :)

    Cheers – G

    • I’m glad you liked the post, Grant! I definitely want to give surfing another shot but like I said- warm waters would definitely help :). And please send along the eBook, I need all the help I can get!!

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