Surfing is in Duran Barr’s blood. His family has been riding SoCal waves for generations, and his father was a pro who now sells his own custom boards. Barr, a Carlsbad native, was on the pro tour himself for over a decade, traveling the world to compete on the best waves. He’s also the founder of North County Surf Academy, the area’s best surf school. Barr and his team offer 90-minute lessons daily at The Seabird Resort (and our sister hotel, Mission Pacific), which can be tailored for students of any age or skill level. We asked Barr to share the inside scoop on his career as a pro, Oceanside surf culture, and how to make the most of your lessons.
On His Surfing Bona Fides
I grew up immersed in the surfing lifestyle. The culture and the business of it was always there. Getting to surf at a professional level is incredible, but it doesn’t last forever. I always want to be in the water, and I figured opening my own school would be an amazing opportunity to share the knowledge and traditions of surfing. There’s a great local scene in Oceanside — surfing and action sports are a small world, and everyone is sort of connected. There’s a lot of mutual respect.
The Important Differences Between Surf Schools
What makes us different from other schools is our learn-from-a-pro experience. Our staff has been born and raised surfing their whole lives, which you won’t find everywhere. You’re being taught by people who know the conditions and techniques better than anyone. That also allows us to teach all levels, from true beginners to much more advanced surfers looking to hone their skills.
When — and Where — to Get Started
Definitely check in with the surf school to find your ideal weather. If you’re looking for bigger or stronger conditions, maybe later in the day will be better. If you’re a beginner, tomorrow might be more gentle. We’re here to put you at ease. We also make sure to match the location to your skills. I like to surf the pier, but I’d say that’s for advanced surfers. Tell us about your (or your kid’s) experience level and we’ll let you know the best spot for your lesson.
What Beginners Can Expect
Our beginner lessons cover the basics of finding your position and getting into the water. We have different size boards for kids of different ages. We also offer both one-on-one private lesson and group classes, but we have 3-to-1 max ratio of clients to instructors, depending on surf conditions. Our goal is to help you feel confident and catch that first wave.
Advice for More Experience Surfers
If you’ve had lessons and practice before, we can help you improve, and if you’re in town to surf for a few days, we can guide you to our favorite local spots. Call us after you book and share what you’re looking for, and we’ll assess what you need. We’ve worked with everyone from couples who have been surfing for years just for fun to aspiring pros trying to learn high-level techniques and surf under pressure — we understand firsthand what that’s like. We can even work with my family’s company, Barr Surfboards, to shape a custom board or help you transition from a soft board to a hard one.
Want to surf with Duran and his team? Mission Pacific offers lessons daily.