Surf etiquette – ‘Tis the season of goodwill

By Toby Millage

We have an ever-thriving local surf population of age-old amigos, shred dogs, fruit bats and groms, but as we enter this time of year the Algarve receives more numbers of hashtag van lifers, a growing remote working community, surf tourism and a general plethora of floaters. 

No doubt we are all in this to have fun ‘shredding the rad’ but I thought it was time we brought up the basic rules of surf etiquette to minimise chaos. 

Maybe this is new to you, maybe you need reminding or maybe you can rip this page out and give it as a Chrissy present. Essentially these unwritten laws make for a much improved and merry all-round surfing experience. 


Before even considering heading into the water observe the surf break to see if there are enough waves to go around and if the conditions are within your ability to handle.

Right of Way

Once out, take note that the surfer closest to the peak of the breaking wave always has right of way. On a dual breaking peak, communicate to other surfers with a wave call of “left” or “right”!

Don’t drop in

Taking off in front of other surfers who are up and riding is a surfing cardinal sin. 

Do not snake

Repeatedly paddling around someone to get into the inside position while another has been waiting is a massive NO NO. There is a line-up, wait your turn. These actions will create complete chaos. 

Don’t get greedy

Share the waves. Even if you can paddle out furthest outside with a larger board and catch waves first every time you reach the line-up. Wait. It does really grind on people and dropping in might start occurring. 

Respect the local surf community

Keep in mind that the locals surf the spots every day. Give respect and interact while visiting a spot, keep things friendly, earn some respect yourself. Don’t rush straight outside, take your time. 

Paddling back out

If a surfer is up on the wave, take the path into the section already surfed so they have a clear path to surf the wave. 

Never let go of your board

It is essential to learn the art of the duck dive or the roll. Never throw your board away. These situations have probably led to about 75% of hospital surf injuries. 

Saying sorry

If you break any of the etiquette rules in any way just apologise. It goes a long way to smoothing things over. 

Respect the beach

Don’t litter, use local bathrooms, pick up any rubbish you see even if it’s not yours. Try the rule of five – don’t leave the beach until you have found five items for the bin.

If there are any rules you want to add or you’d like to discuss any of these etiquettes, go to our Facebook page. 

Let’s shred the gnar!


Share this edition