There are four different courses depending on which island you leave from. Melemele Island's course is the easiest (but shortest), and Poni Island's course is the hardest (but longest). Simply walk towards the equipped Mantine and press A and you will be prompted to do a surf course. As soon as you hit the big waves, the music will start and your trainer will stand and it's time to Mantine Surf!
Speed is the name of the game. The faster you go, the more airtime you get, and in the air is when you can perform the most tricks. You can't do as many tricks if you don't spend much time in the air. Build up speed by moving the circle pad right to go up the wave, and right before you hit its crest, immediately push the circle pad left to descend down the wave and build up momentum.
You will be surrounded by speedlines that show you how fast you're going once you've picked up enough speed. At first it will be plain white, but then it will turn light orange. Keep going to get up to orange with white stripes, and finally, you'll have a dark orange aura that is somewhat smaller than what the white aura was. You've capped off your speed if you can get there.
When you are ready to do some tricks, simply hold the circle pad right until you've sailed off the wave into the air. Depending on your speed, you will go higher or lower and spend more or less time in the air able to perform tricks.
Your touch screen will show the circle pad combos necessary to make tricks, but if you mess up the last move you will do a Magikarp Splash instead. It will give you a ton of points but only works once.
As you descend, you will need to land properly. Doing tricks all the way to landing results in you wiping out and losing all of your speed . Cut off your tricks early and get a smooth landing, you will lose very little speed and will be able to get consistently long periods of airtime for tricks.
Here is a table of tricks you can perform plus other information about them:
|Trick||Effect||Button Combo||How to Unlock|
|Huntail Spiral||Gives some points||Right, Right, Right||Automatically at beginning|
|Gorebyss Spiral||Gives some points||Left, Left, Left||Automatically at beginning|
|Lanturn 360||Gives more points on big waves||Up, Down, Up||Get top score in 1 beach|
|Primarina Twist||Gives more points on short waves||Down, Down, Down||Get top score in 2 beaches|
|Starmie 720||Gives lots of points||Right, Left, Right, Up||Get top score in 3 beaches|
|Over-The-Gyarados||Gives lots of points once, gives few points next time||Up, Right, Down, Left||Get top score in 4 beaches and receive Surfing Pikachu|
While it's definitely ideal to hit fastest possible speed whenever you can, some of the later courses are absolutely drenched in obstacles, especially Poni Island's course. It can take forever to get up to speed when trying to dodge raging Sharpedo, so sometimes it gets more points for you to just get some airtime for something.
As you near the end you will see the island in the background, and closer still you will see a distinct banner marking the finish line. If you get airtime right before you finish, even as you are sailing across the finish line all tricks performed still count. Maximize the time you've got!
If you beat the high score on the beach bulletin boards you'll be recognized for it. You will also unlock new moves to perform for even better scores. Finally, get the best score on the bulletin board for all four beaches and you will receive a Pikachu that knows the move Surf. To receive it, talk to the man inside the Surfing Association office building at Heahea City. The Pikachu is holding a Gold Bottle Cap.