One thing that can be a little intimidating for new surfers is the etiquette of surfing. Surf movies often show aggressive, territorial locals who do not want to share their local break. In real life, showing a little courtesy goes a long way towards earning the respect of the others in the lineup. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don't Get in the Way of a Good Ride
Don't paddle out during a set. It's easier on your body not to fight the white wash, and you'll save your energy for catching waves. Most importantly, if you paddle out in between sets of breaking waves, you won't risk ruining someone's ride by not being able to get out of the way in time as they rocket toward you! If you think you can paddle out without causing a problem there's nothing wrong with that, just keep an eye on the situation.
Never "Drop in" on Someone
If another surfer has caught the wave, and you aren't paying attention and catch it too, they will either collide with you or have to forfeit the wave. You don't want to be known as a "snake" even if it was accidental. If it does happen, make sure to apologize. We all make mistakes But be aware of what's going on around you at all times to create a more safe and friendly environment for everyone.
Find Out if There's an Actual Lineup
At some breaks, there is a sweet spot where it is ideal to catch the wave. It could be right next to the pier or a jetty. If there is a location like that, it's important to give others a chance to catch it there too. Don't go for every wave. If it isn't your turn, don't try for it. If you're not sure what's going on with the rotation, just ask another surfer.
Keep a Wide Berth
You easily have a 20-foot range between your body, leash, and board. Surfboard fins are sharp, and a surfboard to the head could knock someone unconscious. It is always best to always be aware of your surroundings.
Bonus: Pick Up Some Trash
There's nothing that shows more respect for a beach than leaving it cleaner than when you arrived. Pick up that plastic bag or that six-pack ring. Not only will you potentially save the life of a sea creature, but you will also leave a good impression.
Now, go to the beach and have a great time! Before you know it, you'll be the one giving pointers to new surfers on how to be respectful and safe in the water.