How to Surf for Money

By Eric Hammer

There are really only two ways to surf for money (and by surf, we mean on a surfboard on the waves, not surfing the Internet). The first option is to surf in professional contests. Doing this means of course going where the best waves are and then being judged. Often, it costs money to join these contests and you only make money if you win.

Of course, if you do happen to win the contest, then you can also earn additional money by offering to appear in advertisements for various sporting goods companies. In addition, some particularly popular surfing professionals have turned their ability to surf for money into a line of products of their own. Laird Hamilton for example is quite well known as a professional surfer and today, he offers his own line of products through his web site.

The other option for how to earn money from surfing is to offer lessons. Typically, this will be in tourist locations where people go and want to learn what you (hopefully) already know. The work often involves working with people who are not very advanced however, so be prepared to spend a great deal of time repeating the fundamentals over and over again.

How Much Can You Make?

It is impossible to quantify numbers for people who surf for money in contests. People like Laird Hamilton have managed to earn their entire living doing nothing but surfing in contests and then turning that into a business empire all its own.

Those who offer surfing lessons typically charge by the day and earn anywhere from $100-$300 per day for their services, depending on where they happen to be located in the world (obviously, learning to surf off the coast of Waikiki beach will be more expensive than learning to surf off the coast of Honduras).

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Always remember that few people earn their entire living from surfing and fewer people still earn their money from surfing in contests. Therefore be open to other possibilities. If you intend to earn money teaching people how to surf, be prepared to work in tourist areas.

However, you also need to realize that there will be high and low seasons in these areas and that the competition to get work as a professional surfing instructor can be extremely stiff (after all, everyone who loves this sport wants to earn money for doing what they love).

Qualifications / Requirements

Surfing ability.

First Steps

If you do choose to go the route of entering contests, it's best to start small and work your way up. In other words, look for local contests that you can win where you can get used to how judges look at what you do. Then, move on to professional contests where people surf for money (i.e. real money - not the $50 gift certificate to the local Red Lobster).

If you plan to try offering lessons, try doing it for free for some friends and or relatives. See how it goes. Then, offer your lessons for the low end of the spectrum (around $100 a day) so you can build business. Drop by hotels in the area and ask to speak to the concierge. Explain that you offer surfing lessons and ask if they would like your card (obviously, you'll need cards of some kind). Most such people will probably have a list of people they recommend, however they make take your card if they are new or if they want to make sure they have someone they can recommend when their regular person is out.

You can also try putting out flyers or pamphlets in tourist areas. Always ask the owner or manager if you can do so, otherwise your flyers may end up in the garbage soon after you leave.


Association of Surfing Professionals - This is the official web site for the surfing community.

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