Surf Etiquette: DO’s and DON’Ts

Before you head out into the water it’s really important that you learn and understand correct surf etiquette. As a beginner it is your responsibility to stay out of the way of more experienced surfers.

The following do’s and don’ts explain the main points of surfing etiquette, designed to keep everyone in the water safe and happy.

1. DO Observe right of wave

  • The surfer up and riding the wave first or who is closest to the breaking (critical) section of the wave has priority.
  • The surfer on the wave has priority over the surfer paddling out.

Learn to Surf: Surf Etiquette

When paddling…

- When paddling out to the break it is your responsibility to steer clear of other surfers riding waves.

- If you find yourself caught inside the breaking of a wave, head towards the white water, away from the clean face of the wave where the surfer is heading.

- Once you have finished riding a wave, always return to the line-up by paddling around the break, not through it, to avoid other surfers.

- When paddling back out, don’t paddle in front of someone riding a wave unless you’re well, well in front of them. You must paddle behind those who are riding and take the whitewater hit or duckdive.

- A beginner you should try to avoid paddling out into the middle of a pack of experienced surfers. Try to learning to surf in quieter, less crowded waters.

3. DON’T Drop In

A ‘drop in’ happens when another surfer catches the same wave disregarding the other surfer’s priority.

Cutting in front of another surfer’s right of way when they are about to take off on a wave, OR they’re already riding a wave, is annoying and can be dangerous.

This is probably the most important part of the surfing etiquette.

4. DON’T Snake

‘Snaking’ is when a surfer paddles under, around, or over the top of another surfer to get position on a wave (in essence, stealing it). It is also known as burning, ruining, cutting off, or fading.

It’s not immediately dangerous to your health but it is extremely frustrating. You cannot cut the lineup, you have to wait your turn.

5. DON’T Hog the wave

A ‘wave hog’ is simply someone who will not share a wave.

Even if you can paddle out the furthest and catch all the waves it does not mean you should. Other surfers will quickly get annoyed at this kind of behaviour and will simply drop in on you at every opportunity.

6. DON’T Let go of your board

This is a hard rule for beginners, but if you manage to avoid picking up the habit you will be a much better surfer.

When you’re paddling out and you’re confronted by a breaking wave do not let go of your board. This could potentially be dangerous and cause harm to another surfers. Learn to duck dive.

It is important, especially when it’s crowded to always try to maintain contact with your surfboard. If you throw your board and there is someone paddling out behind you, there’s going to be carnage.

7. DO Respect the beach and locals

When visiting a spot be sure to remember that the locals surf there everyday. Be respectful and behave when visiting. Do no litter or vandalise the beach and its surroundings.

8: DO Apologise

If you drop in on someone or break the surfing etiquette rules in any way, just apologise. It’s plain good manners. Obviously people will not be so kind if you purposely keeping dropping in.