Angel Alvarez riding the tube of a huge wave at Tres Palmas Marine Reserve.

Surfing Etiquette/Rules (Photo: Joaco / Surfer: Angel Alvarez @ Tres Palmas.)

surf etiquette
Surfing is a sport that requires a certain level of respect for the ocean, other surfers, and the environment. As a surfer, it’s important to understand the unwritten rules of the water to ensure everyone can enjoy the waves. Here are some surf etiquette and rules to follow:

Respect for the Locals
When surfing in a new area, it’s important to show respect for the locals. It’s their home break, and they likely have a better understanding of the waves and conditions. Take time to observe the locals and their surfing style before jumping in. Respect their space and wait your turn. It’s also important to avoid dropping in on other surfers, especially the locals.
Hierarchy in the Water
In crowded surf breaks, there is often a hierarchy of surfers based on skill level and experience. Respect the more experienced surfers and wait your turn. It’s important to avoid cutting off other surfers, especially those who are more experienced.
Right of Way
When two or more surfers are paddling for the same wave, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. The surfer who is further out should yield to the surfer closest to the peak and wait for the next wave. It’s important to communicate and respect each other’s space to avoid collisions and accidents.

Respect for the Beach
Surfing is a privilege, and it’s important to show respect for the beach and the environment. Do not litter or leave anything behind when you leave. Use biodegradable wax and sunscreen to avoid polluting the water. Respect the beach’s rules, including leash laws and designated surfing areas.

In conclusion, surf etiquette and rules are essential to ensure everyone can enjoy the waves safely. As a surfer, it’s important to show respect for the ocean, other surfers, and the environment. Follow the right of way, respect the locals, respect the beach, and be aware of the hierarchy in the water. By following these rules, you can enjoy the waves while showing respect to everyone around you.
  1. Don't Drop In: Cutting in front of other surfers who are up and riding is a quick way of getting yourself in trouble with the locals. Observe the right of way and you should be fine.
  2. Don't Snake: Repeatedly paddling round someone to get into the inside position on a wave is a no-no. Where would we all be if everyone did this?
  3. Don't Hog the Waves: Share them around. Even if you can paddle furthest outside and catch the waves first every time you reach the lineup, don't do it. People will quickly get annoyed at this sort of behavior and will simply start dropping in at every opportunity. Again, everything descends into chaos!
  4. Do Apologize: If you drop in on someone, run over someone, or breach the etiquette and rules in any way, just apologize. It's just plain good manners. We've all done things that we shouldn't have when out surfing, saying sorry goes some way to smoothing things over. (Obviously snaking, dropping in, hogging the waves and running everyone over will probably end in a beating, no matter whether you say sorry each time or not.)
  5. Respect the Locals: Keep in mind that the locals surf the spot every day. Give respect and behave while visiting a spot, keep things friendly, earn some respect yourself. Don't mob surf spots in large numbers. Don't rush straight outside, take your time.
  6. Learn the Right Way to Paddling Out: This includes not throwing your board or paddling into the path of other surfers. Take a moment and research how to paddle out to the lineup.
  7. Surf Spots that Suit your Ability: Try not to pick a spot that is out of your ability range. You'll only end up upsetting the other surfers by getting in the way or being a potential hazard for everyone. 
  8. Help other Surfers: Always aid another surfer in trouble. Surfing can be dangerous and even fatal, look after each other.
  9. Respect the Beach: Leave only footprints. Don't litter, graffiti, vandalize, or otherwise impact the beach or surroundings.
  10. Have Fun: After all that, lets not forget this one.