Surf Etiquette

Lesson 3 Chapter 1

Pecking order

Surfing is all about respect. From respect to the ocean to respect for one another. Most beaches and surf breaks operate on some form of pecking order.

So what exactly is a pecking order? A pecking order is showing respect to the local surfers, not getting in the way and allowing them to freely catch the best waves.

Showing respect to these surfers can go a long way as they have so much more experience and knowledge than you.

Watching advance surfers rip up their local break is great to watch and learn from. They know exactly where the take-off zone is and they will often be on the best waves.

This takes years and years experience and skill to judge.


This applies at a higher level of surfing, more towards intermediate to advanced. However, it’s worth knowing about for any future references.

Snaking is when a surfer paddles towards the inside of the other surfer who is closest to the curl.

Snaking is always done in a sneaky way where often the other surfer has no idea until the last minute.

Respecting one another goes a whole lot further than snaking will ever get you.

Share the waves and have fun!

Give way

It's very important to know the correct etiquette for when you're next out in the white water and you see a surfer up and riding towards you.

What do you do? Who has priority? You or the oncoming surfer?

The surfer riding the wave always has the priority. This means you need to get out of their way and make sure you don't spoil their wave.

Here are your two options to give way to an oncoming surfer:

  1. Head to the curl of the wave and allow a clear path for the surfer
  2. Paddle fast to the shoulder

A bad idea is too panic and throw your surfboard in the direction of the surfer.

If you really are unsure it's best to stay still and the more advanced surfer will surf around you or flick off if they have too.

Dropping rule

The most annoying thing you can do to ANYONE. Don't do it, even if your life depends on it. Really.

This is a sure fired way to never be allowed back to the beach.

What is it?

When a surfer is up and riding, the unspoken rule is they are free to surf the wave until they decide to finish or flick off. If you decide you would also like to surf the same wave, you would essentially be ‘dropping into’ the same wave as them.

This can be extremely dangerous as surfers often collide causing serious injury and bad vibes all round.

Dropping Rule

The surfer who is up and riding inside, closet to the curl, has priority on that particular wave.

*If you happen to be caught out and accidentally drop in, you should immediately get off the wave.