Surf Etiquette for Beginners - Maui Surfer Girls
Surf Lessons

Surf Etiquette for Beginners

Words and Photos Courtesy Victoria Chadsey:

Learning to surf is so much fun, such a thrill and something you’ve always dreamed of… now you are hooked and its good to know some surfing etiquette and tips to be that surfer that spreads and shares the stoke with others! Here are a few KEY surf etiquette essentials and a few tips I’d like to add for your next epic ocean session!

surf etiquette for beginners
A smile on the ocean can go a long way!


Do not be shy about your surf stoke! As we all know a smile can go a long way, so go ahead and let that stoke of paddling out shine through! No one wants a grumpy gills out in the line-up so smile and even if you are having a bad day, know the ocean is there to cure you!


surf etiquette and tips
Spend some time looking at the ocean and land markers before paddling out

Check Your Surroundings

Before paddling out, make sure you are comfortable with your surroundings. Look around at the beach area and spot your land markers and make mental notes of where you will be getting in and out of the water. Try your best to follow the path of the other surfers as they paddle out in the channels and/or out of the way of the surfing zones. Ensuring you are comfortable with paddling in and out is important and gives the other surfers in the water reassurance that you are being safe and maintaining the system out in the water.


drop in surfing maui
On the left, Victoria demonstrates what NOT to do, dropping in on a surfer already on the wave. On the right, the male surfer pulls out of the wave that Victoria is already on.

Follow the Rules

Learn who has the right of way on the wave…. don’t assume its always you.  Avoid dropping in on other surfers at all costs! It is important to know who has the right of way on the wave. There are a few different factors that come into play here as every wave and every break can be different. Basically whomever has the longer ride, the surfer who is in best position for the wave, and the surfer who is sitting on the peak or the center of the wave. If you are not sure then the surfer whom has been waiting the longest for the wave, the locals and the kids should be granted the priority…if you are not sure about your wave positioning then it is always nice to give the eager surfer the “NOD” or the “GO, GO, GO” to encourage them to catch the wave!


surfing tips for beginners
Victoria and one of her young students patiently wait for their turn in the waves!

Be Patient

With these tips above in mind it is important to take your turn and be Patient! No surfer likes when they have been waiting for waves and you paddle out fresh and dry and sit right on the peak, ready to charge the first set wave that comes in; it is important to read the “lineup” or the group of surfers in the ocean and be sure to take your turn on the waves. Certain surfers may give you a nod of the head or a “go ahead” as they let you take your first wave; they may be tired or may just be testing you to see what your skill level is… so if you get the nod GO FOR IT!


surf tips for beginners
After your ride is over, paddle back over to the channel to get out of the next surfer’s way!

Move Along

When you complete your wave, it is important to know that other surfers are waiting for the next wave and they are usually coming right down the same “runway”.  Do your best to paddle to the left or the right depending on the break to get up and over the next wave and out of the way of incoming surfers!  It is important to always have your head on a swivel when you are out in the ocean!


how to be a nice surfer
Here are Maui Surfer Girls, we are always cheering each other on. While this doesn’t have to happen on every wave with normal surfing, being friendly can go a long way.

Be Polite

In addition to following the rules of etiquette ..Remember your manners. Don’t be afraid to say “Thanks” when someone lets you take that wave of the day or even throwing out an apology when you may not have gotten out of someones way quick enough etc.. Please and Thank you can go a long way in the ocean!


Mahalo to Joe West for the drone photography

Respect the ocean

There are a lot of things to think about when we say “surfers etiquette” but one of the most important things is for SURFERS TO RESPECT THE OCEAN and to take care of our salty playground! So the next time you are walking through the beach park and you see trash on the ground, take the extra step to throw it away so it does not blow into the beautiful ocean you are about to go enjoy. Avoid using toxic sunscreen and make sure you are using reef safe sunscreen (click to see our blog post about the upcoming Hawaii Sunscreen Ban) and products before getting into the ocean! When surfing a reef break be careful for your own safety to not step on the reef but also be considerate of the home for all of the aquatic life and do everything you can to not touch or step on the reef! Follow best practices and do what you can to respect the ocean that is there for you to enjoy!


be polite while surfing
Surfing is a great way to meet new friends!

Surfer Small Talk

If someone you have never met, seen or surfed with before tries to start small talk with you in the ocean…respond or at minimum acknowledge that they are trying to be friendly! Surfing is a way to escape the outside world and be in your “happy place”.  Sometimes its the best place to meet new people and connect in the ocean doing something you both share interest in.  Enjoy the small talk and they may even let you take that next wave that comes through!


So Remember:

**Respect the Locals and RESPECT the ocean!

**Ensure you are at the correct wave break for your ability!

**RESPECT the kids and always encourage their surf stoke!

**Do not Hog the waves and take your turn!

**Know who has the right of way on the wave


**Remember Small talk, Mahalo and Aloha vibes can go a long way!


More About Victoria:

You can Check out my YOGA YOUTUBE channel at “Lil Ripper Yoga” or follow me on Instagram @lilripper941  to join in on one of my Maui Yoga Classes. If you have never tried to surf before then I hope you get the chance, come surf with myself and Maui Surfer Girls and use code “Victoria10” for a discount on your next lesson!

Victoria is the queen of beach portrait photo bombs!

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