Surf Etiquette: 9 Things Beginners Must Learn


As a beginner, you​ need to learn basic surf etiquette, including those that we will briefly mention in the rest of this post. These are actually unwritten rules that you have to know by heart. These things will be important for your safety and while making sure that you won’t annoy anyone who also happens to be in the water.

1. Choose the Right Surf Spot

One of the most important things that you should do is to choose a spot that will work best for your abilities. Be realistic in terms of what you can do and what you still have to learn. As a sign of respect for other surfers, do not go into an area that you know is not for you. Other than compromising your safety, you might just upset other surfers as well. Do your research beforehand and see spots that are categorized as beginner-friendly. The waves should not be too big and the bottom of the water should not be rocky, which will minimize the likelihood of suffering from an injury.

2. Don’t Drop In

This is one of the most important etiquettes that every beginner should learn. The concept of dropping in operates under the premise that one surfer is equal to one wave. Meaning, there should be no two surfers who are propelling towards the same direction. It is important to know who has the right of way, and you must respect this. If you go against the right of way, you are burning the wave of another surfer, and this is exactly one thing that you do not want to happen to you as well. Not only that it is disrespectful, but it will also result in serious injury or surfboard damages. With this, you should learn how to take it slow and wait until it is finally your turn to ride the wave.

3. Don’t Snake

Aside from dropping in, snaking is another disrespectful behavior that novice surfers must avoid. Simply put, snaking is the act of intentionally paddling around the surfer to be able to get the right of way. Literally, this makes you a snake trying to crawl at a space that is not supposed to be yours. If there is already a surfer who is waiting for the wave, do not go there. Or, at least, wait for that person to be able to catch the wave before you paddle towards that direction.

4. Paddle Wide

Paddle Wide


This is one of the best ways for you to avoid other surfers. By being able to paddle wide, you won’t be able to impede on the way of another surfer. Again, this is related to the things that have been mentioned above with regards to the right of way. Also, paddling wide means that you should not paddle through the peak. If you are already caught inside, it is best to stay in the water rather than being in a rush to go out and ahead of other surfers. If you are too aggressive, you will most probably end up upsetting other surfers.

5. Take Turns

This is another etiquette that is related to those that have been mentioned above. Do not get too excited by the wave in front of you. You should know how to consider other surfers, especially if you are in a crowded spot. After all, you surely haven’t paid to have the spot all for yourself. You need to learn how to be patient. You have to learn how to determine if it is your turn to ride the wave. It requires the need for you to wait in line. There are some who call this break sharing. By taking turns, the one who will be waiting for the longest time will be at the end and nearest the peak.

6. Communicate

Even when you are out in the sea and enjoying a good surf, communication is important. This necessitates the need to talk to other surfers in the same spot as you. This will make it easier to know whether someone is going left or right. You need to know the intentions of other people to avoid injury and to be not seen as someone who has no manner. Sometimes, you do not even need to talk. Simple hand signals can already be enough to let someone know what you are about to do.

7. Respect the Locals

Whenever you are surfing, make sure that you always respect the locals. Do not think that they act as if the place is exclusive to them. As they say, if you want to gain respect, you should give respect. It is mutual. It is possible that locals have their own rules, so be sure to respect it when you are in their community. Before you surf, it will be good to have the opportunity to talk to a local. You should also watch them surf and learn from your observations. Take note of their variations as well. Plus, if they tell you to not surf in a specific spot because it is unsafe, listen. After all, they know better!

8. Hold on to your Board

A lot of beginners are surely guilty of letting go of their board after they fall on the water. After all, this is a common instinct for those who were shocked by what just happened. Some might not just know the best way to react. However, take note that letting the board go is one of the rudest things that other surfers would not want to see. Holding on to the board will prevent the possibility of causing injury to other surfers. Do not just dive under the water and forget about the board as it can hit other people. Especially for beginners, the boards are usually large and heavy, and hence, they can cause serious injury when it hits someone.

9. Say Sorry

If you ever mess up, own up to it. Learn how to say sorry to the other surfer. This is one of the easiest ways to gain a new friend while on the water. In some instances, the other surfer might even inform you that you did something wrong. Do not take offense. Rather, take this as constructive criticism, an opportunity to learn something new. Some surfers might start shouting and cursing when you do something that you aren’t supposed to do. Most, meanwhile, will be more understanding, especially if they could tell that you are a beginner. Regardless, the important thing is for you to apologize, own up to your mistakes, and avoid committing the same thing in the future.

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