Surf etiquette: learn the top 10 rules of surfing and respect your fellow surfers

If you want to become a surfer, you must learn the rules of the sport. The so-called surf etiquette is a list of dos and don'ts you should keep in mind while in the water.

When surfers don't follow the basic commandments of surfing, accidents, injuries, and misunderstandings happen.

Remember that there are priority rules in the waves and that a surfboard's nose can kill.

Surf etiquette is a set of guidelines for beginners, intermediate surfers, and advanced surfers. It applies to all line-ups of the world.

Respect others and enjoy surfing.

1. Right of Way

The fundamental rule in surfing tells us that the surfer closest to the peak always gets priority.

In other words, if you're paddling for a right-hand wave, and a fellow surfer is on your left shoulder, you must give priority to them.

2. Don't Drop In

In surfing, the general rule of thumb is one man/woman, one wave. In most cases, you can't have two surfers riding the same wave in the same direction.

When you disrespect the right-of-way rule, you're "burning" someone's wave and showing the utmost lack of respect.

You are ruining a wave for someone like you, who also enjoys surfing.

Dropping in may result in severe injuries and damaged surfboards, so don't do to others what you wouldn't want to be done to yourself.

Relax, take a deep breath, and wait for your turn. There will always be another way.

Dropping in: a disrespectful and intolerable behavior in surfing | Photo: Shutterstock

3. Don't Snake

Snaking is a very common and disrespectful behavior that can be seen, especially in crowded lineups.

Paddling around one or more surfers to get closer to the peak and gain priority is rude conduct.

Select the best position in the line-up, and do not paddle around other surfers, always wanting to catch all waves.

Be patient. There are waves for everyone.

4. Don't Get in the Way

Paddle wide, not through the peak, and stay in the water if you get caught inside and a surfer is enjoying his surf line.

5. The Furthest Out Gets Priority

Although some longboarders may not use this rule wisely - they should leave some waves to shortboarders - in theory, they hold priority.

Sense and sensibility tell us to avoid calling priority in all waves.

6. Do Not Throw Your Board

Surfboards are dangerous weapons, not only for yourself but for others around you. Always wear a leash and avoid ditching your board.

If you kick out, fall, or wipe out, try to control your stick. Surfboards can actually kill someone if they hit critical regions of the human body.

Surfboard: keep it under control all the time | Photo: Shutterstock

7. Communicate What Will You Do

In case two surfers are sitting in the middle of the peak, and the wave opens to both sides in an A-frame wave, they should tell each other whether they're going right or left.

When that happens, both surfers can enjoy their ride down the line without wasting what the wave has to offer.

8. Do Not Dive Head First

Whether you're surfing over a reef or sand, do know that the ocean floor can severely hurt your body.

Try to use your surfboard to protect the impact and protect your head with your arms whenever you fall off the board or wipe out.

9. Respect the Beach and the Ocean

Never leave garbage in the sand or water, and try to give back to Mother Nature all the hours of pleasure and joy you had.

Whenever possible, pick up a couple of plastic bags, bottles, or other garbage items after you conclude your surf session.

10. Give Respect to Gain Respect

Interact with other surfers in a civilized way, even if a minority is still learning good manners.

If you're surfing in a place you don't know, respect the locals. And whenever an outsider visits your home break, treat them with respect and share a few waves.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

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