A Set of Universal Surfing Safety Rules that apply to Everyone who enters the Surf

If you want to learn surfing properly, it is essential you learn the rules of the sport. Surfing etiquette is a list of the unwritten laws of surfing. Every surfer should follow the rules while in the water. If surfers don’t respect the rules, accidents and injuries are bound to happen, especially in crowded lineups where the confusion is big.

Surfing Etiquette is a guide that applies to all surfers whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. It applies to all lineups and is important so that everyone in the water can enjoy the waves.

One of the most influential surfers of all time, Shaun Tomson, wrote down 12 lessons for surfing and business and shared them with the world. In his book, Shaun elaborates on the Surfer’s Code that guided his career and life.

Right of Way

The surfer who is closest to the peak has the right of way. Every other surfer must yield if he or she paddles to catch the wave. This is a fundamental rule of surfing etiquette.

Surfing Etiquette Right of Way

The surfer closest to the peak, has right of way.

Don’t Drop In

This is another very important rule of surfing etiquette. By dropping in, you take off on a wave that is already being surfed or in front of the surfer that is closest to the peak, therefore having right of way. Dropping in on someone will ruin the wave for them because you are essentially stealing the wave. Dropping in is not only annoying but also dangerous, because collisions could arise.

If you drop in by accident, kick-out immediately and apologize if possible.

Surfing Etiquette Drop in

By dropping in on another surfer you essentially steal the wave.

Don’t Snake

By Snaking, you paddle around a surfer to get closer to the peak and therefore gain right of way. Again, this is also stealing the wave. You will make enemies quickly by snaking. Be patient, there are waves for everyone.

Don’t Hog the Waves

Now that you have positioned yourself perfectly and are able to catch all the waves, it still doesn’t mean that you should. The best lineups are made up of respectful surfers who share the waves. Remember, sharing is caring, the others in the lineup also came to surf so share the waves and the stoke.


Communication is essential, especially when it’s crowded. When you paddle for a wave and feel that you probably won’t get it, you should give a shout to the surfers sitting lower, so the wave doesn’t stay unridden.  Also, if two surfers surf an a-frame, communication is essential.

Surfing Etiquette Communicate A-Frame

When riding an A-Frame, communicate which way you intend to go by shouting “left” or “right”.

Paddle Wide

When paddling out to the lineup, remember to paddle wide. Do not attempt to paddle through the break but around it. This will take more time but this way you will not risk ruining someone’s wave.

If you are stuck in the impact zone, try your best to avoid getting in the way of someone riding the wave. If a surfer is riding the wave towards you, and you cannot avoid the surfer, always paddle towards the whitewater.

Surf Etiquette Paddle wide

Paddle wide around the breaking wave.

Respect the Locals

Always respect the locals when you are visiting a break. Remember you are a guest and act accordingly. Don’t paddle on the inside of locals and wait your turn to catch waves. With the proper surfing etiquette in mind, you should not have problems.

Know Your Limits

If you just started out on your wonderful journey of surfing, and still have a long way to go, by all means, avoid surf spots beyond your abilities. Stay away from crowded line-ups when conditions are pumping. Remember if in doubt, stay out. Surfing at spots beyond your abilities not only endangers you but the other surfers in the water as well.

Surfing Etiquette - Surf spots according to your ability

Do not attempt to surf dangerous and heavy surf breaks out of your ability level.

Don’t Ditch Your Board

Surfboards can turn into weapons and literally kill or heavily injure someone. Remember this and do not ditch your board. If you kick-out or fall, try to control your board and make sure you are not endangering others around you. Ditching your board thoughtlessly, when others are around, is a very kook thing to do and another fundamental rule of surfing etiquette.

Help other surfers

Always stay friendly in the line-up, and help other surfers when they need your help. Especially important in bigger waves.

Surfing Etiquette Good vibes

Good vibes always contribute to a better surf experience.

Do Apologize

Mistakes are part of being human. If you break one of these rules by accident, remember to apologize respectfully, and try to understand how to avoid it in the future.

Respect the Beach

Do not litter! Respect the ocean and the beach. Pick up trash you see lying around and by doing so add good karma for your surfing skills.

Surfing Etiquette Respect the Beach and Ocean

Keep our beautiful beach in Famara clean.

Have Fun!

Don’t forget that surfing is about having fun! Stick to these guidelines, be mindful and share the stoke!

Surf Etiquette Have Fun

Remember surfing is about having fun!