School's In Session

Hone your fundamentals at these sweet international spots

Expert Advice

"Surfing requires tremendous flexibility, so I do yoga before I go to the beach. Janu sirsasana, or head-to-knee pose, loosens your hamstrings and lower back. Sit on the ground, one leg folded in—heel at your groin—and the other straight. With arms over your head, stretch up and then forward and grab your foot. Try to touch your head to your knee while smoothing out your breathing."—Legendary tube rider Gerry Lopez

1. Australian School of Surfing
Coolangatta, Australia

Run by former professional surfer Nancy Emerson, this Gold Coast institution mixes holistic instruction (you'll focus on not just technique and water safety but also overcoming fears and mental blocks) with high-tech tools (watch video playbacks of your rides and wipeouts on a laptop). Five-hour group programs, with three to five students per instructor, are $250. Private instruction from $350; 011-61-4-1338-0933, www.surfclinics.com

2. La Casa del Sol Surf School
Montanita, Ecuador

This town of 1,000 has the funky-cool feel that Baja's Puerto Nuevo had 20 years ago, the Pacific water is 76 degrees year-round, and your hotel sits right in front of the sandy beach break. Plus, at $500 for the week, all-inclusive, you can focus on mastering your takeoff—not on blowing your budget. 888-669-7873, www.waterwaystravel.com

3. K59 Surf Tours
La Libertad, El Salvador

It's the perfect way to take your skills to the next level. Your personal guide—an experienced local surfer—is on call 24/7 to show you El Salvador's best Pacific waves, including the speedy, right-breaking peaks at K59 (think Southern California's Trestles, without the crowds), just steps from your door. You'll stay in one of six cozy casitas in a gated community on a private stretch of coastline, about 50 miles south of San Salvador. From $130 per night; Quiksilver Travel, 877-217-1091, www.quiksilvertravel.com

4. Las Olas Surf Safaris
Sayulita, Mexico

This women-only camp treats students like queens: morning yoga sessions, afternoon massages at your villa overlooking the Pacific, and evening mango margaritas. The staff includes pros like 2005 women's world longboard champ Kristy Murphy. From $1,195 for seven days; www.surflasolas.com, 831-625-5748

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