Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (2023)

Beginners guide to Surf Safety & Surf Etiquette

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Learning to Surf is one of the most fun and life-changing experiences you can have, and for lots of people journey that can last a lifetime. But before you start it’s really important to have a basic understanding of all the safety elements associated with surfing before getting in the water.Below we have outlined some simple tips to help keep you safe in the water and make your surfing experience as pleasurable and as safe as possible. read our Surf Safty & Surf Etiquette

Things to know before you go

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (1)

  • Have a Lesson: If you are starting surfing have a lesson by a qualified School/instructor. Here you will be introduced to the sport in a safe environment.
  • Be a Good Swimmer: Do not attempt surfing unless you can swim.
  • Always let somebody on land know where you have gone and when you will return.
  • Check the weather and tides before you paddle out. Learn to observe the ocean so you can identify rips, wind changes and other hazards.
  • Check Equipment: Make sure your equipment; especially your leash is in good order. Remember it is much easier to spot a brightly coloured surfboard or wetsuitat sea in the event of you requiring rescuing. Consider other safety equipment.
  • Protect your Head: When you “wipe-out” always protects your head with your arms.
  • Help Others: Should you see a surfer in difficulty in the water DON’T DELAY phone 112 (EU) or 999 (UK) and ask for the Coast Guard. Even the most experienced surfer may at some time require assistance.
  • Know First Aid: Every surfer should obtain first aid and water safety training you might just save a life of a friend or fellow surfer.
  • Always be aware of other surfers:around you, never let go of your surfboard if caught inside unless you are 100% sure that there is no one behind you.
  • Stay With Your Board: If you find yourself in difficulty it is important to stay calm and always stay with your board.

Fit to Surf

  • “Making sure you are fit enough for surfing is a key part of staying safe”
  • Knowing how to swim is the best defence against drowning. Swimming instruction at an early age is a crucial step to protecting the surfer from injury or death.
  • You need Reasonable fitness and be able to swim. For your swimming ability, you will need to be able to swim comfortably for at least 500m. (Remember the bigger the surf the harder it’s going to get and the stronger your swimming will need to be.
  • Your fitness will also influence how long you stay in the water for (the fitter you are the longer you can surf)
    Protect yourself
  • Don’t dive head first: (protect your head and neck) When falling off a surfboard or “wiping out” try to fall flat always extending a hand ahead of you. Try to land feet first if possible and always protect your head with your arms.
  • Sun protection: SPF of atleast 15, which block 93% of UVB rays. While Higher SPF may be advisable for sun-sensitive individuals, skin cancer patients,
  • Rash guards: helpsprotect against sun damage. They also help protect against rash caused by an allergic reaction to
  • Wetsuit: Using a wetsuit especially the correct wetsuit when water temps are cold lower your Risk of hypothermia
    Use the wetsuit guide to help keep your self safe and warm in the water.

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (2)

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Use A leash: Surfboards should always be used with a leash. If the wave is keeping you under and you are unable to discern Which way is to the surface you can follow the leash back to the surface. The surfboard will always stay on the Surface even when broken. If you are surfing closer to shore. The leash minimizes the distance the surfboard Gets away from you. It also saves a swim to your board after a wipeout as well as a great flotation device in an Emergency situation but should never be relied on as a life-saving device.

  • Cramps: Avoid cramps by not eating at least one hour before surfing and of course don’t go surfing When drunk!
  • Water Safety
  • Rip Currents
  • Rip current also knows as Rips are strong water currents usually found moving out to sea. Rips are formed by when waves break, water is pushed up the slope of the shore this water back toward the sea. It converges in a narrow, river-like current moving away from shore, the water will retreat finding the route with the least resistance, through the form of deeper or steep channels back seawards either directly or parallel to the beach. Rip currents may pull continuously, but they can suddenly appear or intensify after a set of waves, Side currents, inshore holes, and other bottom conditions contribute to the formation of rip currents.

A rip can be recognised because it flows back it will disturb the approaching waves and make them uneven and/or flatten the water’s surface.

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (3)

What to do if you get caught in a rip current

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (4)

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The best way to avoid Rip Currents is by spotting areas that create Rips regularly and avoiding them, but if you do get caught in a rip.

  • Relax, stay calm and don’t just swim for shore.
  • Do Not Panic and swimming against the current
  • Swim parallel to the beach. Often it only takes a few seconds before you feel yourself free of the pull.
  • Then Swim to shore using the waves as an extra push by body surfing in.
  • If you cannot break free just tread water. Remember the rip will take you to the end of the break zone and no further.
  • Swim parallel to the beach than into shore
  • People on the beach signal for help by waving 1 of your arms and calling for help. Once people see you just stay calm and tread water. Float on your back if you Get tired
  • Unless you are an experienced surfer, rips need to be avoided as they can take you out to sea, so before entering the water check with locals or a lifeguard and ask where is safe to surf.
  • Tides:If you are surfing in an area with a tidal range, try to get hold of a tide timetable. Not only are most breaks affected by the state of the tide but some areas can become highly dangerous and can cut off the unwary from land.If in doubt ask.
  • Equipment:Make sure you have the right equipment, and your equipment is in full working order a faulty leash, board wetsuit will soon cause problems in the water, Check your equipment before you go.

Beach flags:

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (5)

Warning flags are displayed at many beaches to assist you.You will need to avoid the beach sectioned off with red/yellow flags which are designated for swimmers and if the red flag is flying don’t enter the water at all as the conditions are considered dangerous.

Surf Safety & Surf Etiquette

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What is Surfing Etiquette?

Surfing etiquette is a set of “rules” or a “code of conduct” that is based on common sense and consideration of others. All surfers should follow these general rules and guidelines to ensure that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable session in the water.
Learning, understanding, and following these basic surfing etiquette guidelines are a must for any surfer. If all water users show respect, the line-up will be a safer and friendlier place for all to enjoy! Remember, the best surfer at any beach is the one having the most FUN!!

Beginners, Guide, to Surf, Safety, &, Surf Etiquette - (6)

Respect the environment: Surfers are often considered ocean ambassadors and should promote the health of our beaches and ocean. We depend on a clean and healthy ocean, so always properly dispose of any trash you encounter on the beach. Maintain a positive attitude! Surfing should be fun for you and everyone else in the line-up. Respect others and share waves.

(Video) SBS: How To Paddle A SUP

– Respect Others: Be aware of other water users and always show respect regardless of craft, keep a good attitude, be friendly and apologize if you make a mistake.
Paddle out Safely: When paddling out, be aware that a surfer actively riding a wave has the right of way. As a paddler, it is your obligation to avoid a surfer on a wave. Paddle wide of the breaking waves to help avoid collisions or obstructions.
Control your board: ONLY abandon your surfboard if no one is around “Dive to stay alive”
Never “drop in”: on another surfer. “Dropping in” is taking off on a wave in front of another surfer who has right of way. (See illustration).
Do not snake: A snake is someone who aggressively positions him/herself in front of another surfer who otherwise would be in a position to catch the wave. Remember to always respect other more experienced surfers and share waves.
Communicate: If you are surfing a peak where you have an option to go right or left you must communicate with other surfers in the line up your preferred direction to avoid ‘drop-ins’ and unridden waves. At some breaks, you may be able to paddle out into a position that gives
Follow the local laws: at the beach, you visit. Different beaches maintain different sets of laws (i.e. surf zones, surfing near jetties and piers etc.), so check with a lifeguard for relevant laws before you enter the water.
All ways wear a leash: Not only is it a law at many beaches, but wearing a leash is an important way to keep your board close to you and to keep it from becoming a hazard to other surfers.
Help fellow surfers or swimmer if trouble in the water: The ocean is a dynamic environment and there are many safety hazards including rip currents. Should another surfer or swimmer encounter a problem, immediately offer assistance?
Know CPR/First Aid: Everyone who surfs should be certified in CPR and Basic First Aid.

Don’t let this advice spoil any of your fun though!Surfing is fantastic and with a little common sense and safety awareness, you’ll be able to have a great time in the surf.

Disclaimer: The information found within this site is for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for local advice from local authorities, lifeguards, instructors and schools.


What are 3 beginner rules to surfing etiquette? ›

Simple rules of surfing: The Surf Etiquette
  • Rule 1: Right of way. ...
  • Rule 2: Don't drop in. ...
  • Rule 3: Paddling Rules. ...
  • Rule 4: Don't ditch your board. ...
  • Rule 5: Don't snake. ...
  • Rule 6: Don't be a wave hog. ...
  • Rule 7: Don't litter. ...
  • Rule 8: Drive responsible.

How do you surf for beginners step by step? ›

Learn how to surf in 8 steps
  1. Watch the waves. One of the hardest things for a beginner is getting in the right position to catch a wave. ...
  2. Practice the 'POP-UP' ...
  3. Start small. ...
  4. Paddle like you mean it! ...
  5. Take up a fighting stance. ...
  6. Don't look down. ...
  7. Start out straight. ...
  8. Learn the rules.
Mar 11, 2015

What size waves should a beginner surf? ›

Generally speaking the perfect size for beginners is 1 to 2ft. For intermediates: 2-4ft waves are best as it gives you more face of the wave to progress your skills on. You should keep an eye on the 'Swell Period', because it's a lot more indicative of the actual wave size (see the next point).

What is the golden rule in surfing? ›

The Golden Rule is all about having the volume where it is needed. Having the right amount of foam under your torso for fast paddling or foiling the tail out so the board can perform when when turning.

What is a beginner surfer called? ›

Grom – a young and inexperienced surfer; also known as a grommet or gremmie.

Can a 70 year old learn to surf? ›

Just like any non-impact sport, there is no age limit for surfing. Boys and girls start surfing as early as 3 years old and famous old surfers like Woody Brown and John H. “Doc” Ball were still paddling into waves well into their late 80s.

Is 60 too old to learn to surf? ›

Just like there is no age limit for surfing, there is no age limit for learning how to surf. It's never too late to start! Regardless of your age, learning how to surf can be achieved with enough time and determination.

What is the first rule of surfing? ›

1. Right of Way. The fundamental rule in surfing tells us that the surfer closest to the peak always gets priority. In other words, if you're paddling for a right-hand wave, and a fellow surfer is on your left shoulder, you must give priority to them.

What should you not do while surfing? ›

Mind Your Manners: 10 Do's and Don'ts of Surfing
  1. Don't paddle out directly behind another surfer. ...
  2. Don't let go of your board when a big wave bears down on you. ...
  3. Don't paddle over the shoulder of a wave when another surfer is about to ride. ...
  4. Don't paddle through the lineup. ...
  5. Don't jockey for position in the lineup.
Dec 25, 2011

Is it easier to surf left or right? ›

Regular footed surfers ride waves with their left foot forward, and goofy footed surfers ride waves with their right foot forward. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong surfing stance. Choosing between a regular and goofy stance all comes down to which one you feel more comfortable with.

What is the ideal height for a surfer? ›

5' 9" Is the Optimal Height for a Surfer; (Aka: Short People Rule Surfing) | The Inertia.

What is the hardest surfing trick? ›

The ultimate surfing trick. The barrel ride is the mother of all maneuvers in surfing - the greatest moment a surfer will ever experience. It consists of riding the hollow part of the wave, fully covered by the curl's lip. Perfect tubular waves are rare.

How do you say hello in surfing? ›

Shaka (sha-kah): Can be used to say hello, goodbye, or to scare off the seagulls. May also be used with the term “brah” (i.e. “shaka, brah”).

What is the most important skill in surfing? ›

Key surfing skills include: determination, balance, flexibility, strength and endurance. And in the case of the world's largest waves found in Portugal, "teamwork" is also an essential skill.

What is the easiest surfing trick? ›

i) Bottom Turn

The experts of surf camp Hawaii consider bottom turn as the most important trick for beginners. This trick is considered as the foundation of surfing. In the list of basics of surfing, bottom turn is right on top almost initiating surfers to face the waves.

Why do surfers kick their legs? ›

It usually happens at the final stages of catching a wave, when the surfer feels they need that extra speed to make it onto the wave. This occurs when 1. the surfer's stroke rate increases and 2. they start kicking their feet.

What is the number 1 Golden Rule? ›

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This seems the most familiar version of the golden rule, highlighting its helpful and proactive gold standard.

What is a surfer girl called? ›

The term 'Betty' is a surfing-slang word for a woman who surfs. The word became popular in west-coast USA in the 80s to refer to these counter-culture badass surf and skater girls. It's now spread to include other board sports such as snowboarding.

Why do surfers say Yew? ›

Another widely used term for surfers is "YEW!", which is an indicator that a large wave has been spotted, however mostly shouted while a surfer is catching or has recently finished riding a wave.

What does Kook mean in surfing? ›

July 8, 2013. Kook, noun. Pronunciation: kük : An individual with no understanding of the social and sartorial norms of surfing. In the water, a kook's cluelessness can aggravate or endanger other surfers; on occasion, kooks can even be recognized solely by the faux pas they commit out of the ocean.

Does surfing give you wrinkles? ›

As it turns out, it's a good thing for us surfers. Scientists believe that the hands and feet wrinkling up are an adaptation to being in the water. The wrinkles work like tire treads draining water away from our fingertips.

Can you learn to surf in 3 days? ›

Learning to surf requires between two hours and one month of practice. If you're struggling for more than two months to ride a wave, then there's something wrong with you. The first thing you'll need to master is lying and balancing on a surfboard - that could take you between half-an-hour and two or three hours.

How does surfing change your body? ›

Strengthens muscles

As well as building muscle strength in your upper body and legs, the cross-training effect of surfing is a brilliant workout for your core, making it a full body workout. A lot of surf research suggests we use our trapezius, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, obliques, triceps, biceps and deltoids.

What age do most pro surfers start surfing? ›

But what happens in surfing? On average, a surfer starts his or her professional career between 14 and 18 years of age and hangs the leash around 35. Nevertheless, we've athletes reaching their peak of performance around 35 or 40.

Where is the easiest place to learn to surf? ›

Here are the 12 best places to visit to learn how to surf in the world.
  • Oahu, Hawaii. Makaha Beach in Oahu, Hawaii. ...
  • Bali, Indonesia. Bali, Indonesia. ...
  • San Diego, California. Pacific Beach in San Diego, California. ...
  • Lanzarote, Canary Islands. ...
  • East Coast, Barbados. ...
  • South Coast, Sri Lanka. ...
  • Mundaka, Spain. ...
  • Sydney, Australia.

What is a perfect 10 in surfing? ›

So, for earning a Perfect 10-point score, a surfer needs to get at least four 10s from the judges and then another lower score, for example, a 9.50. The highest score - a 10 - and the lowest - the 9.50 - are dropped, and then the remaining three 10s result in a perfectly executed wave ride.

Is 1 foot enough for surfing? ›

As a general rule, if it's only 1ft, it's pretty difficult to surf on, unless you longboard or are a lightweight grom/ shredding machine!

What should a beginner surfer do? ›

Dec 9, 2021

What not to do when surfing? ›

Mind Your Manners: 10 Do's and Don'ts of Surfing
  1. Don't paddle out directly behind another surfer. ...
  2. Don't let go of your board when a big wave bears down on you. ...
  3. Don't paddle over the shoulder of a wave when another surfer is about to ride. ...
  4. Don't paddle through the lineup. ...
  5. Don't jockey for position in the lineup.
Dec 25, 2011

What to avoid when surfing? ›

Don't paddle where most waves are crashing and where the majority of surfers are riding. Instead, paddle wide through the channel where the waves don't break. Sometimes it's hard to do this on beach breaks, as the waves are breaking a bit everywhere, but there are usually areas where fewer surfers are riding.


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