Surf/SUP Etiquette

Aloha SUPers/surfers and mahalo for dropping in with Blue Planet Surf. Below you’ll find some basic info on understanding the surf world and proper etiquette in the line up. Blue Planet Surf Shop store manager Mike, a 20+ year surfing veteran, is big on adhering to proper surf etiquette protocol which ultimately results in more fun and safety for everyone in the water.

Thank you to our customers for voting Blue Planet as Hawaii’s Best Stand Up Paddle Shop.



Surf Etiquette by Mike G 1

Understanding the surf break and current conditions:

Always take your time before paddling out to look at tides, the winds, the way the wave breaks, is there a channel, is it a reef break or beach break, the amount of people out etc.…This is especially important in Hawaii where the waves tend to be more powerful. If in doubt don’t, don’t go out. The ocean is a powerful and unforgiving place, but we learn to enjoy its beauty.


Surf Etiquette by Mike G 2

Rider right of way and understanding positioning of who get’s the wave:

Any surfer who has inside position of you on a breaking wave (closest to where the wave crest will break) technically has the right of way. Be wary of paddling for waves if another surfer is already up and standing or already riding the wave. Also, when paddling back out try not to go in front of the person on the wave unless you know you can make it without interfering with the rider. If it means taking one on head that’s what you do. Another important factor that is often overlooked, but will definitely get you the ire of others surfers in the lineup is, if you catch a wave do not paddle back out into the pack and attempt to get the next set wave. Wait your turn. Give a few waves to others sometimes; it will gain you respect and thanks.


Surf Etiquette by Mike G 3

Board safety and controlling your equipment:

This is of the utmost importance to keep people safe. Do not bail you board or equipment. Nobody wants to have a 9’ board coming at their face. If you do get caught inside and everybody will at some point you can hold onto the back of your board or leash to make sure the board will not stray away from you and hit others. A board is also buoyant and will help to pull you back up to the surface. If you are not supremely competent of controlling your equipment you should always wear a leash in a crowded lineup.


Surf Etiquette by Mike G 4

Understanding where you are surfing and with who:

If you travel a lot you probably know this already, but it is important to know where you are going out to surf. Some breaks are more localized than others and hence more competitive and tight knit. We would recommend watching for a bit before going out to these breaks to get a feeling of the lineup. There will always be a hierarchy out in these lineups and paddling straight into the lineup and sitting on the peak is not highly recommended. Take your time to ease yourself into the lineup, use commons sense, and definitely have respect and others should show the same. It is always better to learn at spots that are more advantageous to beginners; it will help you improve faster than going to a more performance break where you could interfere with other surfers. As you get better then you can test yourself at more challenging breaks.

Special Note
from Mike

This overview of surf etiquette is definitely something to remember and will come in handy anywhere you go to surf, from Bali to Cape Town. For example, most people would not join a basketball league or even learn to drive a car without knowing some of the rules first, and surfing is no different. Nuances will be learned over time as well, with some slight variations depending on locale, but one thing should always remain constant- we are all out there to have fun and enjoy how lucky we are to surf.

 With Aloha,

Michael Guthrie