We spoke with Mike, our resident surf instructor at Real Adventures. Originally hailing from California, Mike began surfing at a young age, and has been riding waves around the world since then – and loves to share the beauty of this sport with others whenever he can.
Find out what brought Mike to surfing, how it benefits his life and what he has learned along his extensive surfing journey.
How did you get into surfing?
Growing up in California we often went to the beach as a family, but it wasn’t until a trip to Hawaii at age 10 where I took my first lesson and started learning to surf more seriously. When I came home it was all I wanted to do everyday – and everyday since.
Do you remember how it felt at the beginning when you were learning to surf?
Yes, at first it was amazing, but then when you start to go on your own and no one is there to teach you it can be tough. You have to stay positive and power through each session, even if it’s a bad one. That way you better yourself every time you’re out in the water.
Who taught you?
I took one lesson as a child and after that I sort of infiltrated a group of kids my age who also surfed. We pretty much taught each other. We would be in the water and challenge someone to take a big wave, or do some cool new turn or trick, and if they did, then everyone else would want to match it. That’s how we would get better.
What was it that kept you coming back, and kept you motivated to practice?
Even if you have a bad session, there is always one wave that’s better than the rest. That one wave is like a drug and as soon as it’s over you need another. We would surf as kids for three or four hours until we were numb. After every session all we could think about was the next time we’d go.
In your life now what does surfing give you or offer you?
Surfing has and continues to give me so much every day. Surfing was always the driving force when I began traveling a lot. I was hunting waves, and had the privilege to visit beautiful and wild locations around the globe. It has brought me countless friends around the world who are as close now as family, and will always be my surf family.
As an adult, I can stay physically fit and healthy doing something I love – while mentally surfing calms my mind and brings me peace. I feel completely connected to the oceans where I surf, as much as the animals and plants that live there. On top of everything, I have been able to make a living in several countries by teaching others and helping them find the unique experience that surfing brings them – which is often the most rewarding aspect.
What is the best thing that surfing has given you?
I would say that surfing has truly taught me to be patient and take my time with everything I do. As an individual sport, you are truly only competing against yourself. It teaches you how you can grow to be better than you were yesterday. To successfully accomplish this, you must be patient and understand some days will push you forward, while others will seem to push you back – but ultimately if you are moving in the direction that makes you happy, that’s all that matters. Just go at your own pace! By applying this lesson to my life outside of surfing I have learned to be a better person in general.
What would you say to beginners or those wanting to take up surfing?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just like I have learned to be patient with myself, beginners must also be patient with themselves. Never stop learning, there is no end to what you can absorb when learning to surf. I have done it for twenty years and will be learning for as long as I continue, hopefully well into my twilight years!
What have you learned from teaching others to surf?
Teaching others has really forced me to think simply about my own surfing. I often tell my students that less is more, they need to allow themselves to be relaxed and calm, or balancing and standing up on the board can be difficult. Simplifying these instructions has allowed me to hear my voice when I surf and ultimately made me a much better surfer and surf instructor.
Something that people think about surfing, that may not be accurate/true?
Something that isn’t true is that you have to be crazy fit, or young to be a good surfer. I have seen older guys and girls absolutely shred and people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels surf circles around me. It’s all about how much time you give your body learn. If you surf enough you will find it helps to keep you fit and in shape.
Favorite wave in Ireland?
My favorite wave in Ireland would probably be nearby where we teach lessons in Ballyconneely, but it only works in very specific conditions. However when it does, it’s incredible.
My favorite wave in the world is definitely somewhere in Costa Rica, but the location is a secret.
Second favorite would be a spot called D street in San Diego where I live.
If you could sum surfing up in three words – what would they be?
Unbelievable, addicting, indescribable
Want to know more about our surf camp, and surf lessons? Take a look here for more information and how to get involved!