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MAIN Arrow to Recreation Recreation Arrow to BeachesBeaches Arrow to Surfing Surfing Arrow to Surfing Etiquette Surfing Etiquette

You may have the most stylish rash guard, the bitchenest surfboard, and have all the common surfing safety rules down pat.

But ... do you surf well with others?

Yes, there are surfing etiquette standards to become familiar with before you catch the next big wave.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to live on a private island - or have access to an exclusive stretch of beach - these rules don't apply! However, for everyone else, following these Top Ten codes of conduct will help you and your fellow surfers have more fun and stay safer in the big surf:


1. Especially for beginners, avoid the common mistake of paddling out to the middle of a busy lineup of more experienced surfers. Instead, paddle around to a less crowded break to give veterans the right of way.

2. As a general rule, always keep your distance (rule of thumb: about 10-15 feet) from other surfers. This is not only good surfing etiquette, it also helps to avoid a potentially dangerous collision between yourself and another surfer.

3. When more than one surfer catches a wave at the same time, the one closest to the curl has the right of way.

4. Known as "dropping in" (in surfing lingo) is when you accidentally cut in front of someone already riding a wave. Avoid wave-rage by being alert to those around you, and waiting your turn.

5. Closely related to No.5, "snaking" is an even worse breach of etiquette in which a surfer intentionally sneaks around another to get in position to take the next wave. Remember that nobody likes a wavehog. Be polite.

6. Keep a close grip and avoid ditching your board under any circumstance. If you're headed for a fall, crouch down and hold onto the rails to keep your board from becoming a flying missile and a danger to others.

7. Surf happens. If you accidentally hit another board or person while you're surfing, always make sure the other person is OK and, if it was your mistake, apologize quickly and move on.

8. Always help a surfer in trouble or, if you can't do it alone, enlist the help of others. The favor might be returned to you someday.

9. Respect the beach. If you're partying afterward, pick up after yourself before you leave.

10. Lastly, remember that some local coastal areas have been surfed by families or friends for generations. Before surfing in a remote or unfamiliar spot, make nice and ask if it's OK.

Note that most of the these rules will become second nature as your gain more experience.

Meanwhile, get out there, and have fun!


More about surfing etiquette around the Web:

Surfing Etiquette: 5 Surf Rules Everyone Should Know - Good overview of the do's and don'ts of surfing etiquette with photos, illustrations, and a related glossary of surfing terms.

Surfology - Surfing Etiquette - A top ten list, plus more detailed tips and advice on avoiding the snake and the drop-in.

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