How To Surf Till You’re 90

| posted on August 09, 2011

Doc Paskowitz takes a break between sets with Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. Photo: Aichner

Unfortunately, there comes a day in every surfer’s life where they throw in the figurative towel, put their boards back in the garage, and bid their adieus to the sport forever. For some, that day accompanies a mortgage, a family, a demanding job, a move to a land-locked location, or a severe injury. For others, like Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, the only thing to pull them from surfing will be death itself. At an astounding 90 years old, Paskowitz has yet to give up on surfing. Recently, he shed some light on the tricks that have kept him in the water since 1932.

“I can’t really see too well any more, so I have to rely on my sense of sound and feeling when I surf. I can’t stand up anymore either, so I just ride on my knees. I couldn’t get in a wetsuit now, and I damn sure couldn’t get out of one. So at my age, I only surf when I go to Hawaii. I just can’t take the cold water anymore. But when I’m in Hawaii, I’ll surf every day I’m there.”

“Every morning, between 6:30 and 7:00, I walk the beach at Salt Creek. I still feel that same sense of excitement I did when I first started surfing back in 1932. Even though I can’t get in the water in California now because of the cold, I’ll still tell someone about to paddle out to catch a good one for me. But I still feel the excitement.”

“I don’t eat any sugar. I eat a low-fat diet, and I walk, walk, and walk some more. Staying healthy is more than just not being sick. It’s about having vigor in your life. But you have to work for your health. I have five pillars that I stick to: Diet, exercise, rest, recreation, and attitudes of mind. You have to be positive, and you have to do all of those things every day. You have to work for it.”

“In life, you’ve got to move, move, move. It’s hard for death to catch you when you’re running. Death finds you a lot easier when you’re always in bed.”

“When you’re 90, every day is a new ball game. Your body turns into an old car—something is always breaking. One day it’s your knees, another it’s your stomach. That’s why you have to take good care of yourself. A big problem is that people overeat too much for dinner. Just like if you drank too much beer or tequila the night before, you’re gonna wake up the next day with a hangover, only this one is caused by food. Most people have to pull themselves out of bed each morning, and they stop waking up with vigor. If you don’t eat too much for dinner, you’ll feel better the next day.”

For more on Doc Paskowitz’s tips to staying healthy, see his book, Surfing and Health.

  • Rob

    awesome picture, awesome article, nice one, Surfermag

  • hostal veraguas

    It is my inspiration!!!
    Please come to Panama, to surf at Santa Catalina beach (the best for surfers)…You will get free lodging at this place!!!
    Hostal Veraguas.

  • aaron


  • Marty Davis

    Good on you Doc!! I remember you walking the beaches in Cabo eveyday with your radio on your shoulder!!

  • Rik Cederstrom

    I up to 60, that leaves me 30 + to go!

  • ringz

    not a surfer sorry to say…. but know a bunch o surfers, and liked your article

  • edgar

    very rad & inspirational. Some def. great advice, got many years to go!

  • Eder Felipe

    The longevity of it is very exciting, her determination, her wisdom to know how to deal with your life.
    this old man is actually an example of how we should give thanks to life that was granted by the greatest architect.

  • Jerry Jaramillo

    Doc, Started surfing at 11. At 57 I am finding those injuries I never had before. Moving to Oahu and warm water has been a blessing because most of us dread the cold water and the wetsuit . I am now going through therapy of a rotor cuff and frozen shoulder. Its a slow process. I try to get in the ocean every day to exercise. I think its more of the feeling of the salt water than anything. For Mother Ocean has always been a healer for mind and body. So I hope to follow in your foot steps from the beach to the ocean for many more years to come. Mahalo for your inspiration. See you in the water.
    Surfer, Thanks for the article.

  • bill wallin

    coming up on 70 in a couple of months still getting into my wetsuit but the water does seem colder! but ok i,ll keep going try for 20 more years

  • jbinsb

    Have been seeing the Paskowitz clan at San Onofre since I was a kid learning to surf there in 1960. Hope I can still hit the water at 90! Will be 57 in August and bought a 6’3″ Rookie at the recent Channel Islands sale. Yesterday, for the first time, had it wired at Campus Point. Can’t do two sessions more than maybe two days in a row (everything hurts, back especially!), but it sure is great to be able to enjoy these amazing shapes that are being made today and to translate speed into a carving arc.

    • Randy Leesa

      Get a swiss ball @ Big5 for $10-15 bucks. Use it daily, helped my old back by building my core strength. It will help your surf and your general back pain.

  • Kevin Carter

    one day at a time… way to be Doc

  • Tyler Dirden

    Will Miss You Doc! thanks for making us Surfwise!
    great advice from a great man and father of many
    Aloha Nui Loa Paskowitz Tribe