Surfing Etiquette & Rules


Surfing tends to be pretty free form but there are certain accepted rules, mostly based on safety and common sense, that you should adhere to.


These rules apply to body boarders, short and long boarders, surf skiers and kayakers.


1. Always look inside

Before committing yourself to the wave ALWAYS look inside (toward the apex of the wave) to see if someone is already on or about to take off on the wave. If you don't you could be putting yourself and another rider in serious danger because you may cause a collision.


2. Wave ownership

The person closest to the breaking part of the wave has the right of way.


If someone is up and riding, paddling into the wave behind them does not give you the wave. A surfer taking off on one side of a peak does not have right of way over a surfer who has already caught or is riding the other shoulder. This means a surfer cannot cross under the peak to the opposite shoulder and expect right of way if it is already occupied.


A wave rider must try to avoid all other swimmers or surfers.

3. Dropping in

'Dropping in' is when you take off on a wave in front of someone else who is about to or is already up and riding and obstruct or interfere with their right of way.

Don't do this. Ever. No exceptions.


Remember: If you 'Drop In' on someone unintentionally then make sure you apologize to them for your error and let them know that no harm was intended. Generally they will accept your apology.


4. Paddling out

When paddling out, if you must get over a wave that someone is riding, paddle behind them (on the white water side). This allows them to continue riding the wave without having to dodge you. It generally means getting knocked around by the wave for the sake of someone else's ride. Take comfort in the hope that they would do the same for you. Also when you get out the back remember that others were waiting for a wave well before you so don't paddle round them and park yourself on their inside in order to take the next wave.

Sunset SurfBoard - Banana Surf School

This is typical surfboard beginners are taught on at Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

This is a selfish and un sportsman like act and not the way to have a friendly surf.


Remember - Do not paddle in front of someone unless you are so sure that you will be 20 feet in front of them.


5. Attitude

If you are having a bad day, then take your 'bad attitude' somewhere else. No one wins an argument, especially in the surf. Surfing is supposed to be FUN and exhilarating not an unpleasant experience.


6. Accidents

Always apologize if you make a mistake. If you are involved in or near a collision then stop what you're doing and make sure that everyone is okay. Above all, keep a good attitude.


Remember - You are out there to enjoy yourself while participating in an exhilarating sport. Say "Pura Vida" to your fellow surfers and you will all have a better day.