Surf Etiquette

Surfing is an ever-evolving sport that has seen may changes over the years. The dominant forms from our perspective these days are the shortboard, longboard and SUP’s. No matter what you ride, please take note of the following “rules of the road” so that everyone can enjoy the waves together.

Six Simple Surf / SUP Rules

Surfing has a widely accepted set of rules designed to keep everyone safe in the water. Following these insures that everyone catches waves and no one gets the "stink eye" (or worse) from fellow surfers. Whether you're riding a shortboard, longboard or SUP, these same rules apply.

Rule no. 1: Right of way

The surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. This means if you’re paddling for a right, and someone on your left is also paddling for it, you must yield to him or her. If you're unsure whether the surfer with the right of way is going to take the wave, just ask!

Rule no. 2: Don’t drop in

Dropping in means taking off on a wave when someone else has the right of way. This is rude, and can be dangerous. If you don't make the drop - or the other surfer is faster - you may get run over. If you accidentally interfere with someone's wave, let the other person know you're sorry. This goes a long way towards reducing tension in crowded lineups.

Rule no. 3: Don't paddle through the lineup

Don’t paddle out through the middle of the lineup. When paddling back out, do NOT paddle in front of someone riding a wave - even if you have to paddle through the whitewater. If you're in a spot where you can't paddle behind a surfer, you need to paddle as fast as possible to get over the wave and out of the way. And, if you’re a beginner you should avoid paddling out into a lineup of experienced surfers. Paddle out at a less crowded area of the beach.

Rule no. 4: Don’t ditch your board

If you’re paddling out and a wall of whitewater is coming, you can't just ditch your board and dive under it. If you let go of your board, anyone around or behind you could be seriously injured - even if you're wearing a leash (which is required at the Isle of Palms). This is especially true when it gets crowded.

Rule no. 5: Don’t be a snake

When a surfer deliberately paddles around another surfer in order to get the right of way for a wave, he's a "snake". Wait your turn. No one likes to be snaked.

Rule no. 6: Don’t be a wave hog.

Just because you can catch every wave it doesn’t mean you should. Shortboarders complain about longboarders doing this, while longboarders complain about SUPers doing it. Since it is easier to catch waves on a longboard - and even easier on a SUP - it becomes tempting to catch them all. Don't do it. Give a wave, get a wave.

Following these simple rules will keep surfing and paddleboarding safe and fun for everyone.