Surf Etiquette: 7 Rules Every Newbie Must Know Before Paddling Out

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happy surfer big smile go pro photo on the waves

If you are new to surfing, it’s important to learn the standard surfing rules and etiquette you should follow when you’re out in the ocean. As you master the basics of paddling, Eskimo rolling, and carving, there is a list of things that you should do and shouldn’t. When you keep these beginner surf etiquettes in mind, it will ensure you and other surfers keep safe when surfing in the waters. 

When surfers fail to follow the basic rules and etiquette, they risk getting involved in accidents, sustaining injuries, and causing misunderstandings among other surfers. Having said that, here are the seven rules to follow:

1. Don’t Snake

Whilst a common thing, snaking is considered a disrespectful behaviour among surfers. It’s often seen in crowded line-ups and is used to describe someone who “drops in” on another surfer who has the right of way. You may think that paddling around surfers to come closer to the wave peak gives you pride, however, it’s rude conduct. You may want to be the one closest to the peak so that other surfers give you a priority, however, you don’t need to do that. Snaking can be dangerous and can result in confusion. The best thing to do is find the best position within the line-up and refrain from paddling around others striving to catch every wave first. Patience is key in the game of surfing – there are waves for every surfer. 

2. Right of way

In surfing, a surfer who is closest to the peaks should get priority. If you happen to be paddling for a wave in the right hand, and you notice there is a colleague surfer on your left shoulder, it is important that you give him or her priority. 

3. Avoid dropping in

In most of the cases, you don’t see two surfers who ride the same wave within the same direction. The one surfer one wave rule applies. If you don’t respect the right of way and take off on a wave already being carved by another surfer, you will be burning the wave of another person and you show lack of respect. You are running someone else wave, and you want to let them enjoy the surfing just like you. Dropping in a wave can lead to severe injuries if the surfboards happen to collide. You may also damage the surfboards. Just relax and wait for your wave to come – there is always another one coming. 

4. Priority should be given to the furthest out

Some longboarders don’t use this rule the way it should. Longboarders should ensure they leave some waves to the short boarders – these hold priority. You need to ensure that you know when you should be catching a wave. Sense and sensibility should tell you that you don’t have to call priority in entire waves. There are times when you won’t be the one closest to the wave and you should just admit that and accord the ones closer to the wave the priority they need. 

5. Don’t throw your board

Surfboards can be dangerous not just for yourself but for others around you. You need to wear a leash and avert ditching your board. Try to control the stick if you fall, wipe out, or kick out. Surfboards are dangerous weapons and can kill someone if they happen to hit critical body areas. 

6. Don’t dive headfirst 

The ocean floor could seriously hurt your body – whether you surf over sand or reef, you want to refrain from diving headfirst. Try to use the surfboard to help protect the impact. Protect your head using your arms if you fall off your board or you wipe out. 

7. Communicate what you will do 

If two surfers sit in the centre of the peak, and there is A-frame wave opening to both sides of the wave, the surfers should communicate to each other to indicate whether they are going left or right. When you communicate the way you are going, you will be able to enjoy your ride down without wasting the opportunity the wave offers. 

These are some of the surf etiquettes for beginners you should know. If you are surfing in Costa Rica, or elsewhere, you want to ensure you follow these surfing rules to have a safe, enjoyable surfing experience. 
At Kalon Surf, we offer week-long inclusive surf experiences in the warm waters of the Osa Peninsula. Not only will you learn to surf and perfect your technique from passionate surf coaches, but you’ll also leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Come discover what ‘Pura Vida’ or the good life is really about. Enquire now.  

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