Surfing Etiquette: Riding Waves and Coastal Courtesy

Surfing is not only about catching endless waves and riding the perfect barrel. It’s also about being a part of a community, respecting each other, and understanding the unwritten rules of the lineup. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of surfing etiquette with a blend of informative advice and observations that we’ve learned from over our years in the water.

dropping in on a wave

The Pecking Order

First things first, understand the pecking order in the lineup. It’s like a hierarchical beach ecosystem, where respect is earned based on experience, skill, and local knowledge. The more experienced surfers usually take priority, but it’s also important to gauge the vibe and respect the locals who know the break like the back of their hand. Remember, it’s not a race to catch every wave – patience is key.

Respect the Space

Surfers, like seagulls guarding their piece of bread, are territorial creatures when it comes to waves. Avoid dropping in on others (stealing their wave) or snaking (paddling around other surfers to get priority). It’s not just about the rules; it’s about preserving harmony in the lineup. Treat others’ personal space like a fragile sandcastle – don’t mess with it!

Wait Your Turn

Lines are for grocery stores, not for waves. Wait your turn and raise your hand to indicate that you’re next in line for the next set wave. The wave karma will come back to you, and you’ll certainly appreciate it when someone gives you the nod for your dream ride.

Mind Your Manners

Just like you wouldn’t take the last slice of pizza without asking, don’t paddle straight to the peak and claim it as your own. Respect the established lineup and introduce yourself to fellow surfers. Manners go a long way in creating a positive atmosphere in the water.

Wave Priority

Understanding wave priority is crucial for a smooth and respectful surf session. The surfer closest to the peak and furthest inside the breaking wave has the right of way. But keep in mind, it’s not about just blindly following rules; it’s about maintaining situational awareness and avoiding collisions. A friendly shout-out or a wave of gratitude when someone gives way will only elevate the camaraderie.

Sharing is Caring

Surfing is best enjoyed when shared with others. So, if you see a beginner struggling to catch a wave, resist the urge to catch it yourself. Instead, offer encouragement and guidance. Remember, we were all beginners once! You may even guide them to a section of the water where they are going to be less of a hassle.

Respect Mother Nature

Surfers have a unique relationship with the ocean, and it’s important to show respect for the environment. Avoid littering, show appreciation for marine life, and leave footprints only in the sand. Let’s keep our beloved breaks pristine for generations of surfers to come. You can make a start by getting sun cream for surfers that is less harmful to the ocean we surf in.

Wave Catching Faux Pas

Surfing Etiquette

a. The Wipeout Diversion: When you fall off your board, the last thing you want to do is use it as a weapon in a race against your fellow surfers. Be mindful of your board’s trajectory to avoid an unwarranted game of dodgeball. At least making an effort to grab the board or a grip on the leash will help you to avoid taking someone out.

b. The Pelican Dilemma: Just like a group of pelicans diving for fish, surfers tend to flock together when they see someone catching a wave. Avoid paddling directly into someone’s path, resulting in a potential tangle of leashes, boards, and bruised egos.

Stoked Vibes Only

Surfing is all about having fun, catching waves, and embracing the stoke. We’re all in this together, and it’s essential to create a positive, inclusive environment. Sharing laughs, cheering on fellow surfers, and keeping the vibe alive will only add to the magic of riding the waves. You will always encounter a few grouches, but a positive attitude towards others will make them stand out and look like the bad ones.


Surfing etiquette is a vital aspect of the sport, ensuring a harmonious lineup and a sense of camaraderie among surfers. By following these unwritten codes of conduct, we can all enjoy safe and memorable sessions, all while respecting the waves, the ocean, and the fellow surfers around us. So, paddle out, catch some waves, and spread the stoked vibes for a truly enjoyable surfing experience!