There’s nothing quite like the initial rush of excitement you feel when you jump into the water for the first time; we’ve all been there. Whether it was when we were kids, or it was more recent, it usually sparks a passion that stays with us long into the future.
The thought of gliding down a wave often excites beginners so much that they become blindsided by what they actually face in the water. Catching a wave is an incredible feeling, but surfing also presents a challenging and sometimes dangerous environment. As a surfer, you have a responsibility to both yourself and other surfers out there.
Beginner longboarders should firstly learn how important it is to respect the power of the ocean. While she is beautiful, she is fierce! The ocean isn’t always what it appears on the surface, and is constantly changing. Understanding things like rips, dumping waves, sand banks etc. should be the first thing you learn before you think of paddling out.
Once you’re aware of the hazards the ocean presents, it’s time to focus on getting into the surf and learning how to maximize every session.
Challenging situation on the line up when many surfers catch the wave at the same time. Source: pinterest
What Is Surf Etiquette?
Surf etiquette is a set of unwritten guidelines or rules that surfers use to create a safe and enjoyable environment for all. It applies in every line up, no matter where you are in the world. Respect is the basis to these rules; respect for the coastline and ocean, the surf equipment you use, and for others in the water.
The unique feeling of having the entire wave just for yourself.
Why It’s Important
Everyone’s understanding of the ocean is different. Some grow up near the water, being immersed into surf culture from a young age. While others have very limited knowledge when it comes to the ocean, not having any experience at all until they jump in for the first time.
Having a standard set of guidelines gives everyone the opportunity to have a stress-free session, no matter their skill level, ocean experience or surf knowledge.
When surfers don't follow these guidelines, it can lead to misunderstandings, and more serious things like accidents and injuries. Longboards are heavy and solid, so they can cause serious damage if they’re not handled with care.
If you’re ready to catch the best waves at any cost—morals, ethics, and “fun” aside—follow these 7 finer rules of surfing.
10 Surf Rules You Need to Know
Priority is the fundamental rule in surfing that surpasses all other rules. It means that the surfer closest to the peak of the wave always gets priority to the wave. If you're paddling for a right-hand wave, and another surfer is on your left, you must give them priority, and vice versa.
For example: If you start paddling for a wave, but you glance towards the peak and see another surfer paddling for the same wave, then they have priority. You’ll need to stop paddling and let them take the wave.
Don’t Drop In
Dropping in is one of the most frustrating things in the surf. It happens when a surfer who is closer to the peak is paddling for or surfing a wave, but then a surfer who is further away from the peak decides to jump onto the wave, essentially stealing it. Generally, you can't have two surfers riding the same wave in the same direction; it should be one surfer per wave. You need to be aware of others in the water, and if another surfer is already on the wave, don’t ruin it for them.
Dropping in is not only disrespectful, it can be dangerous too.
For example: When you’re paddling for a wave, remember to check both directions. Don’t only look towards the face of the wave where you want to go, also check the other direction to make sure another surfer, who is closer to the peak, isn’t already paddling for or surfing the wave.
Snaking is common in crowded line ups, but it’s one of the lowest things you can do when you’re out in the surf. Snaking happens when surfers paddle around or in front of other surfers to get closer to the peak to gain priority.
For example: If you start to paddle earlier for a wave, and another surfer then starts to paddle in front of you to get to the inside, they’ve snaked in front of you to get closer to the peak and gain priority. They have sneakily snatched priority from you! No matter where you’re surfing, this behavior is frowned upon so just don’t do it.
Your arms may be feeling like jelly at this point, but don’t be lazy and take the easiest route out. Paddle wide, not through the peak, so you don’t get in the way of other surfers.
For example: Paddling closer to the peak might get you out quicker, but you’ll probably be in the way of another surfer riding a wave. Paddle around the breaking waves, so you avoid blocking another surfer’s wave.
Don’t Take All the Waves
When you’re a beginner, it can be tempting to paddle for every wave, because you probably haven’t caught that many waves or you’ve wiped out quite a bit. If you’re paddling for every wave, but failing to catch them, this can become annoying for more experienced surfers who could’ve actually caught the wave.
For example: If you’ve just paddled for a wave but suddenly wipe out, don’t just wait in the same spot and jump on the next wave that comes along. Paddle back to your starting position, and then go for it when the time is right.
Don’t Ditch Your Board
Surfboards can be dangerous, not only for yourself but for other surfers too. If you wipe out, try not to kick your board out, rather just fall off it. Try your best to control your board and we aware of others in the water; a longboard could potentially seriously harm or even kill someone.
For example: You’re gliding down a wave, but you suddenly lose your balance. Just fall off your surfboard, rather than kicking it out.
Longboarder Dana and Flora keep the chill and friendly vibe inside of the water. It is fun to surf together and respect eaxch other. ***click on the photo to see more detail***
Longboarder Dana keeping perfect balance while walking on her log. She is wearing one of our new collection surfwear, Uluwatu one-piece. ***click on the photo to see more detail***
Waves can open up to both sides (going left and right). If two surfers are sitting in the middle of the peak, and they decide to paddle for the wave, they should let each other know which direction they’re going. That way both surfers get the chance to catch the wave, without any stress.
For example: If you’re sitting on your board in the middle of a surf spot that breaks both right and left, you’ll need to communicate with other surfers who are also in the middle. If a wave comes and you decide to go right, but there’s another surfer paddling for it, let them know you’re going right.
Respecting others in the water makes everyone’s surf sessions much more enjoyable. The surfing community can be a supportive, inclusive and friendly where all surfers are welcome. The key to immersing yourself in this community is by respecting other surfers. If you're surfing in a break you don't know, respect the locals.
For example: If another surfer snakes in front of you to gain priority, don’t abuse them. Just shrug it off so you can focus on catching your next wave.
Know Your Ability
While we all dream of gliding down the perfect wave, we may not be able to, just yet. Understanding your ability and skill not only keeps you safe, it keeps others safe too. Paddling out into large swell as a beginner longboarder is dangerous; there are rips, heavy waves and other hazards that you may not be aware of.
For example: If you’ve made a special trip down the coast to enjoy an epic session, but the swell is a lot larger then you’d normally surf, I would reconsider paddling out. It may be disappointing, but it could ultimately save your life.
Be Aware & Decisive
Being indecisive and unaware as a beginner longboarder is understandable. You may be distracted with trying to read the waves, be fatigued, or not be fully confident in your ability. Hesitating and not being mindful of your surroundings can present problems in the water. If you decide to paddle for a wave, then commit to it, and make sure you’re aware of those around you.
For example: You’ve just caught an awesome wave so you’ve super excited. You may be so distracted that you just jump on your board and start paddling. If you haven’t checked your surroundings then there could be another surfer coming towards you.
Local best women´s longboarder Flora wearing Kuta one-piece in nude.
***click on the photo for more information
As a beginner, it’s a lot of information to absorb, but it will get easier as you surf more. These rules protect all surfers, not just beginners. They make sure that everyone out there is following the same guidelines to prevent unnecessary mishaps.
As a surfer, you have a responsibility to learn to respect the ocean, to respect the beach, and to respect others in the water.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered! If you’re a beginner longboarder, check out our beginner’s guide to buying a longboard, surf swimwear guide, surf-specific yoga guide, skincare routine for surfers and more! We’ve got all the inside info you need to safely start having fun in the water.
Our friend and great surfer Sami is wearing Dreamland one-piece in black.
***click on the photo for more information
Let your surf buddies know!
Share this info with all your surf buddies to make sure everyone has a safe and stress-free session. Surfing should be fun for everyone, especially beginner longboarders who are still finding their footing in the ocean.
What rule do you see surfers ignoring most in the water? Which rule do you think is the most important when you’re surfing?
Dana is wearing one-piece Kuta surf swimsuit in tripoli color.
***click on the photo for more details
Thank you for taking time and reading this article. It is always more fun when we respect each other and keep it chill and safe.
From us to you...