Ride with the Vibe and Follow These 4 Surfer Courtesies

March 18, 2020
The Nai Harn

An afternoon out on the waves is a great way to start your vacation at the beach. When you paddle out into the sea, you will soon forget your concerns and find peace in the rhythm of the waves. But surfing is not just about having a couple of carefree hours on a surfboard. Surfers need to observe proper etiquette, even when hanging loose.

Know which waves suit you

Most surfer courtesies fall under this general idea. Knowing what skill level you are is an important unwritten tenet of recreational surfing. Some beaches have easygoing waves. They are uniform and do not reach serious heights. Others have rougher waves, which are only navigable by more experienced riders.

When you are at the beach, you must know what you can take on. When you ride, be sure you would be able to get back to the shore. An inexperienced surfer who attempts to take on tall breaks will most likely fail, bringing the wave down and affecting everyone else’s ride. Taking on beginner-level waves is fine; everybody starts somewhere!

Observe right of way

Surfer culture is built around sharing and self-knowledge. One manifestation of this is how they take turns and give way to each other. Surfers let the person closest to the crest ride the wave; it is practical, after all, and this is the person best positioned to ride. This is not a hard and fast rule and can be adapted to the situation.

For example, right of way goes to someone who has been giving up waves for others all day. If they find the right wave for them, even if they’re not the one poised for it, the other surfers should give way and let them get a crack at it.

Dropping in, then, can be seen as impolite. This happens when a surfer cuts in front of another person who has the right of way and takes the wave under them. This is potentially dangerous because the other person can get caught in the current the ‘stolen’ wave leaves behind.

Share the waves

Take your turn properly. Don’t hog waves–if you’re using a longboard or a standup paddleboard, you will probably get a lot of waves in one go. This is alright, but you must be sure to let everybody catch a break too. If you keep going in, you might be taking from short boarders, which can get annoying if it happens for an entire afternoon.

Similarly, keep to the line and let riders closer to the wave take it first. Don’t paddle your way out and catch it before everyone else. You don’t want that to happen to you, either.

Stay humble

Being a beginner might make you impatient; however, you cannot take on something you have no practice in and expect to be great at it. Nearly everything in life needs practice, so learning the rules (both the written and unwritten ones) and refining your technique goes a long way.

It is easy enough to stay humble when you’re doing the right thing. However, you should stay the same even after making a mistake. Because you’re just learning the basics you will surely make some awkward move or commit a no-no. Quickly apologize and move on. Everybody has been where you are, so they should understand!


Surfing is an enjoyable activity that is perfect for a long trip to the beach. Its enthusiasts advocate a chill, laidback lifestyle. However, there are still social conventions to follow when catching waves. Knowing yourself and being aware of others is the best way to get along with everyone when out surfing at sea.

If you are looking for a resort near a surfing beach in Phuket, book a stay at The Nai Harn Hotel. We have a stunning view of Nai Harn bay, and our beach is perfect for surfing and other water activities. Get a room today or contact us for inquiries.