Surfing Etiquette: 10 Unwritten Rules of Surfing


The Surfer’s Code Sign from Ft Pierce, FL

Sometime rules are a means to end total chaos. May things also have underlining or unspoken rules of “do’s” and “dont’s”.

Today we will talk about Surf Etiquette…the unwritten laws that keep you out of trouble when you are in the water and ensure you have more fun than drama when you surf.

    1. Right of Way – When you are out in the water, it is important to learn who has the “right of way” on a wave. To make it simple, we put together a little list in order of priority:

Furthest out: The surfer that is furthest out or that has been waiting longest

Furthest inside: The closest surfer to the peak of the breaking wave

First to feet: The first surfer to their feet or first onto the wave

Communication: If someone calls of “Left!” or “Right!” if the wave is dual-peaking

  1. Dropping In – Never cut in front of other surfers who are up and riding a wave. This is a sure was to get the locals a little angry.
  2. Don’t Snake Others – Snaking happens when you paddle around someone to get into the inside position on a wave. This is definitely a no-no.
  3. Wave Hog – Do not take all the waves. You should have learned how to share in kindergarten, but if not, learn now! Even if you can paddle furthest outside and technically have priority, give others a chance to have some fun too.
  4. Apologize – Mind your manners. If you drop in on someone, run over someone, or breach the unwritten rules in any way, just apologize.
  5. Respect the Locals – Keep in mind that the locals surf the spot every day. You are on their home turf. So, be kind and respectful.
  6. Paddling Out – Paddle wide, head out around the wave, and do not get into a surfer’s path who is riding the wave. It is always easier to paddle through unbroken water. So, before you start paddling out, take a good look at how the waves are breaking and determine the best way to get out without getting in the way.
  7. Surf Within Your Ability – When you surf, pick the spot and day according to your ability. Do not surf big waves until you are ready. Surfing out of your ability just causes you to get in the way or makes you a potential hazard to others or yourself.
  8. Help other Surfers – Always help another surfer in trouble! Surfing can be dangerous, so, look after each other.
  9. Respect the Beach & Have Fun – Leave only footprints. Be a good steward of the amazing ocean that God gave use. Pick up your trash and do not cause intentional damage to the beach, reef or areas we love to surf. Head out and have fun!


The Unwritten Rules of Surfing – courtesy of

The Unwritten Rules of Surfing – courtesy of