Surfing Etiquette

The Basic Rules of Surfing

It is important for all surfers to understand and respect Surfing Etiquette for a safe and enjoyable surf for everyone

Surfing Etiquette

To keep the line up as safe as possible as well as to enable everyone to have an enjoyable, stress free surf without others doing the wrong thing and causing problems and issues in the water, it is vital that all surfers know, understand and abide by the accepted surfing etiquette. These are the basic rules of surfing.

Surfing, like anything, needs these rules to maintain the peace and maintain the safety. They are really simple to understand and for the most part, basic common sense. Following these rules also shows common courtesy and respect for the other surfers in the water. When everyone is doing the right thing, sharing the waves and respecting each other it allows everyone to enjoy their surf, have a lot of fun and appreciate what our amazing sport is all about. Unfortunately it just takes one person to disrupt the balance and ruin the vibe in the water especially if they are knowingly doing it and disrespecting others.

By learning and understanding Surfing Etiquette will stop any new surfers and those fresh into the lineup inadvertently doing the wrong thing and upsetting others. Showing and treating everyone with respect, no matter their age or ability, will ensure that the good vibes continue. If when surfing you do accidentally slip up and break one of these rules, a simple apology will do wonders. Just ensure that you are more vigilant and do not do it again

Six Basic Surfing Etiquette Rules

We have listed the six most basic surfing etiquette rules below and have included links for you to learn more about each rule if further explanation is required.

  1. Don’t Drop In
    • If someone is on your inside, that is closest to the pocket/peak/breaking section, it is their wave and you should leave it to them
    • Click here for more information and further explanation
  2. Caught inside, stay inside
    • When paddling out if someone is riding a wave and by paddling over the green face means you will get in the way of and impede the surfer riding the wave, then you must negotiate the white water by duck diving or rolling
    • Click here for more information and further explanation
  3. Don’t Snake
    • If someone is already riding a wave, even if they are further out along the wave face and you could paddle on and be on their inside, it is their wave, leave it for them to continue riding it. Snaking can also occur when a surfer paddles around another surfer to end up on their inside when a wave is coming.
    • Click here for more information and further explanation
  4. Never Throw Your Board
    • A surfer must always hold onto their board when negotiating the impact zone and paddling out. A surfer who lets go of or throws their board endangers any other surfer in the area
    • Click here for more information and further explanation
  5. Paddle wide
    • Similar to “Caught Inside, Stay Inside”, when paddling back to the line up and take off zone, a surfer must paddle a line that does not interfere with or impede surfers riding a wave, even though this might mean having to paddle a slightly longer and wider paddle line
    • Click here for more information and further explanation
  6. Don’t surf beyond your ability
    • When surfing, a surfer must ensure that prevailing conditions are suitable and appropriate to their level. This includes not only the size and power of the surf but also the type of wave, the number of people in the line up, the type of board being used, the experience and confidence a surfer has and a surfers fitness level and physical condition. Surfing above ones ability, puts that person and others at risk
    • Click here for more information and further explanation

These are the basic rules that should be followed in each and every surf. Just remember, really it just comes down to respecting everyone in the water, sharing the waves and working together to all have a fun, enjoyable and safe surf together.


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