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Surf coaching in the Algarve and a quick insight on how to become one

By: Laura Rhoden


I ask the rather handsome and modest Aaron Roberts, who works for one of the oldest surf schools in the Algarve, the truth about what it’s really like to be a surf coach in Lagos, Portugal.

Aaron has been surfing since he was a nipper and has been sponsored by huge names in the surf and skate industry. When he isn’t doing tricks, flips and headstands on his board, he is out teaching on the frontline on the Algarve beaches.

Considering I am his girlfriend and he has no choice in the matter, he is quite obliging. 

Aaron Roberts by Better Mondays, for yoursurftrip.com

Photo Credit: Better Mondays

We start the grilling at our local cafe haunt, Goji. He orders an espresso. So do I. We get straight to it.

 “ So, Aaron, I am going to ask you to try and pretend that I am a professional, hard hitting journalist for the duration of this interview and discuss what made you want to become a surf coach here in the Algarve?”

 “Well, first of all, thank you for having me and I presume the coffees are on you today?”

He winks at me.

“I have been surfing since I was 12. I have been coaching since the age of 16. I was a spunky monkey back then and I was lucky enough to work all over the world. I was living in New Zealand at the time and wanted to come back to Europe and the Algarve seemed like the perfect place. It gives you two coasts to choose from, the west and the south. Also, if I am being totally honest it was Portugal or Norway and it’s a hell of a lot warmer here!”

Aaron Roberts by Steffan Renermalm, for yoursurftrip.com

Photo Credit: Staffan Rennermalm

“What kind of qualifications do you need to become a surf coach, for those capable surfers out there looking to do it full time?”

“Firstly, you need the ability to surf. So there are a lot of girls come out as volunteers for the surf school and spend a season perfecting and learning. Then they apply for their level 1 surf Instructor course, which is available within various governing bodies.
Secondly, you will need to take a beach lifeguard award. After you have completed both courses, you are required to train a minimum of 20 hours voluntarily on the job within an accredited surf school. It was quite a while ago that I did all this, I’m 27 now so it may have changed, but not hugely.”

“The surf schools in the Algarve tend to have a good number of women working as surf coaches. Surfing can be quite male dominant, but the women are really coming in strong which is so good to see.”

“Yeah, Rui, Mark and myself have been outnumbered by the ladies this year which is brilliant. We all work so well together and you can see everyone’s teaching approach is different. You need that variety and when you have been working in this industry as long as I have. The fresh positivity from all the crew really is infectious.”

Surf coaching Algarve by Hannah Edy for yoursurftrip.com

Photo Credit: Hannah Edy

“With all that in mind, what is a typical day for you at the Surf Camp?”

“A typical day would start with myself rolling out of bed around 7am. Putting the coffee on. Making some brekkie, and head down to the surf camp at 8.15am.
Guests are staying at the Surf House and should be relatively alive, depending on their night before. Lagos is a party town and it has a tendency to really grab you by the balls and give you the most death defying hangovers, so there are a lot of bleary eyed guests in the morning! We grab the vans, load the boards and head off to the West Coast beaches. Lagos is on the south, and if the conditions are right we would be able to surf locally but predominantly we tend to hit the west coast. We set up camp for the day and depending on conditions, run three hours worth of lessons.”

Aaron Roberts Surf Coaching in Portugal for yoursurftrip.com

Photo Credit: Hannah Edy

“Do you have any honest advice for the surfers wanting to become a surf coach in the Algarve?” 

“You HAVE to love surfing. You HAVE to have a passion for it otherwise it becomes a burden. You see people who start out surfing and want to become surf coaches, but the reality hits them and it’s not what they expected. It is like with anything else, if you don’t love it, it becomes hard. Also, it is a total lifestyle that you take on, especially here in the Algarve. Not only are you teaching, but you are surfing every day on the beaches. The beach is your office, which is sunny every day, give or take a few clouds. Be prepared for days on remote beaches, surfing everyday and a crazy nightlife. Oh yeah and always pack a roll of toilet paper! It really doesn’t sound that bad huh?!”

Aaron Roberts by Steffan Renermalm for yoursurftrip.com

Photo Credit: Staffan Rennermalm

Want to improve your surf skills to ultimately become a surf coach like Aaron? Get in touch now to book your surf trip, start the practice and learn the ropes!


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