What are the Best Watersports For Complete Beginners? | Volcano Watersports

What are the Best Watersports For Complete Beginners?

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9 May 2023

Everybody starts off as a beginner in everything. That much is true. And, usefully, reminding yourself of that fact can be all you need to get over those first-time nerves – that fear of making yourself look silly.

But, for a long list of reasons, some of us just feel like we’ve got more ‘beginner’ in us than others. Maybe it’s shyness, lack of confidence, or just a general fear of trying new things – whatever it is, some people find it a lot harder to get over that initial hurdle and embrace the learning curve.

Thankfully, trying new watersports isn’t a case of jumping in at the deep end. Your first few sessions on the water will always be focused on the fundamentals – things as basic as ‘how to hold the rope’, ‘how to stand up’, and ‘how to balance your weight’ – and this is a great opportunity to replace all those anxieties with practical experience, which you’ll start collecting as soon as you climb aboard.

And, besides, not all watersports are created equal, and complete and utter beginners – those of you who barely know the difference between a wakeboard and a waterski, let alone an ollie and a tail grab – will definitely benefit from picking the right sport to start out with.


How easy is it?

It’s one of the easier tow sports since you don’t have to worry about falling out of the wake and losing all your speed. The physics of wakeboarding* are pretty simple. With the rope to hold onto and only one board to control (rather than a pair of waterskis, for instance), it’s a great way to ease into watersports.

Find out more about our boat rentals for wakeboarding, or any other watersports you want to try.

What to expect

After your safety briefing, you’ll strap yourself onto the wakeboard using a pair of boots known as ‘bindings’. These are fixed to the board, so you don’t have to figure out how to keep yourself from flying off.

It can feel a little weird at first, since your feet will be stuck in that position, but you won’t be hanging around on the deck of the boat, fixed to the spot. Instead, you’ll be helped into the water and given the rope to hold. Easy enough, right?

In the water, you’ll want to get into position – floating on your back with your knees bent and the board (which is buoyant) floating on the surface. The rope should be between your knees, and you should have a firm-yet-relaxed grip on it. As the boat starts to move, you’ll want to focus on maintaining that relaxation in your arms, and not trying to use all your strength to heave yourself up out of the water.

Instead, with the proper technique, you’ll rise up pretty gradually. This can take a few turns to get right, but most mistakes happen because the wakeboarder is overthinking, not underthinking.

After that, you can start getting used to the way your posture impacts your direction and speed. You’ll want to keep a safe distance from the boat, but your instructor will signal you to ease off if you pick up too much speed. You’ll keep hold of the rope the whole time, and get a great opportunity to experience Lake Arenal in a totally unique way.

Does it hurt to fall on a wakeboard?

Falling is common and, most of the time, it hardly hurts. The water is pretty forgiving and, since the board is made to be buoyant, you don’t have to worry about fighting its weight. The most common injuries are minor – things like ankle sprains or grazes – and, with the right safety equipment and expert guidance, you don’t need to worry yourself out of a great experience.


How easy is it?

It’s a little tougher than wakeboarding since, when you’re skiing on two separate skis, you’ve got to exert more strength to keep your legs from moving too far apart. A single ski is a little easier, but the posture can be a little tougher to get the hang of. Still, with the rope to support you, the stakes aren’t too high.

Read more about waterskiing in Costa Rica if that’s piqued your interest.

What to expect

Starting off on waterskis isn’t too different from starting off on a wakeboard. You’ll want to find a good, comfortable position in the water before the boat starts moving so that, when it pulls away, you can rise up out of the water instead of trying to push the water down and away from you.

Once upright, you’ll want to keep a bend in the knees (aim for them to be just above your toes), and for your body to be straight and relaxed and tilted back (away from the boat) just a little.

Waterski is a real workout, and you’ll want to be prepared to feel a lot of muscles working very hard to keep that ideal posture. If you fall out of that posture, you may struggle to keep upright but, if that happens, you can just try again.

You’ll also want to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that the wake is choppy, and can feel rough at times. Holding onto the rope (and remembering not to pull against it) is harder than the pros make it look, so don’t be discouraged if you find waterskiing to be harder than you’d anticipated at first.

Do you have to be strong to water ski?

You don’t have to be as strong as the Hulk, but a basic level of fitness and strength is ideal. The rope does the heavy work, but keep in mind you’re always moving against the drag of the water, so just holding on can be a challenge. You might want to focus your next few gym sessions on a few light upper arm strengthening exercises.

Also, don’t underestimate the challenge of maintaining that ideal posture we talked about. Maintaining that stance is a full body workout in and of itself, and you’ll definitely feel that in all the major muscles the next morning.

Still, there’s a reason so many people keep coming back for more.

Can kids waterski?

Yes, with the right instruction and expert guidance, kids can have a lot of fun learning how to waterski. It’s a great way to get the whole family spending a day together, having fun and watching one another learn something totally new. There are so many benefits to getting kids into watersports.


How easy is it?

To learn, tubing is super easy. Then again, becoming a tubing master is a lot harder than you’d think…

What to expect

You and a couple of friends will load yourselves onto a tube – a lot like an innertube. If you’ve ever tubed down a ski slope, then you’ll have some idea what to expect, but keep in mind that water is a lot less predictable than snow…

As the boat gathers speed, the wake will pick up. You and your friends will be towed along, faster and faster over the water, with the wake creating a choppy ride beneath you. Hold on tight, or you’ll be tossed out of the tube. Be the last one left hanging on, and enjoy bragging rights for the rest of the vacation.

This one is a lot of fun to do and watch. There’s no real skill to it, which makes it a great way for you to shake off any beginner’s nerves before you tackle something a little harder. Alternatively, wind down after a day spent learning a new skill with something that’s just there for the fun of it.


How easy is it?

For a beginner, figuring out the mechanics of paddling the kayak and steering it where you want to go can take a few minutes to get used to, but there’s no sharp learning curve here. Your arms may get a little tired, but that’s a great excuse to slow down and take in the sights.

What to expect

A relaxed, slow day moving around the lake at your own pace. It’s not thrill-a-minute with high speeds and rip-roaring wakes, but it’s just as memorable. Take in the wildlife that calls Lake Arenal home as the sun tracks across the sky, and soak it all in.

You won’t need too much help with this one. Figuring out the right technique is something you’ll be able to do for yourself as you move along – and, even if it takes you a little longer than others, what’s the hurry? Lake Arenal looks great from every angle.

Any watersport can look a little intimidating to a beginner, particularly if you typically take more convincing before you’re ready to step outside your comfort zone and give something new a try. But, with the right instructors – which we happen to have at Volcano Watersports – and the right setting (hint: it’s Lake Arenal), finding your feet on the water doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect. And, with all your favorite people around you – and all your favorite songs blasting through the speakers – it doesn’t have to be scary at all.

Just get in touch with our team to find out more about arranging your next experience on the water with Volcano Watersports.