By John Linn

Surfing has a barrier to entry that’s a lot more difficult to surmount than other sports. First, there’s the equipment – are you really going to buy a board if you don’t know how to use it? Then, there’s the problem of training – you can’t really teach yourself to do pop-ups, can you? Which is why the folks at Island Water Sports are so good at doing what they do. Not only is their shop South Florida’s equivalent of a Waikiki hang out, they’re gracious enough to help out surfers of all levels get into the game by holding totally free surf lessons every Saturday morning.

Here’s how you qualify: Head over to the shop (1985 NE 2nd St., Deerfield Beach) at 7 a.m. on Saturday and bring your own shorts, sun block, and a towel. You’ll grab a long board and walk to the Deerfield Beach Pier alongside the instructors – IWS staffers like 20-year vet Kali “Da Big Kahuna” Montero and surfboard shaper Mike Pechonis – who’ll then run down the basics like safety, paddling, and that vicious pop-up. After that, the instructors break it down based on who’s around; and since all levels of surfers show up from week-to-week, that could mean more useful tips for getting started or even some trade secrets spoken only in whispers. The lessons last two-hours, but Montero is available for private gigs as well. Call 954-427-4929, or visit