Surfing Lessons on Oahu: Learn Etiquette on the Water

Surfing Lessons on Oahu 101: Surf Etiquette


You’re about to dive into one of the most exhilarating sports out there. Surfing! And hey, we don’t blame you for being excited; I mean, who wouldn’t want to glide on water? But before you paddle out, let’s chat a bit about surf etiquette. Sounds boring, we know, but trust us, it’s an essential part of surfing lessons on Oahu; after all, a huge part of surfing is the culture.


Why Surf Etiquette is a Huge Part of Learning to Surf


Okay, look, the ocean is not a lawless wasteland. There’s a sorta “unspoken constitution” that we all follow. Why? Because it keeps things chill, organized, and above all, safe. Without rules, you’ll find yourself in a sea of chaos, dodging boards and irate surfers—and let’s face it, no one wants to be “that guy” or “that girl.”

a close up of a propeller on the beach

1. The Right of Way (It’s a Thing)


First up on our list: right of way. Now, listen carefully, this one’s big. The surfer who’s closest to where the wave is breaking has the right of way. Period. That means if you see someone already riding a wave or preparing to catch it, you gotta back off and give them space to maneuver. Don’t drop in on someone else’s wave; it’s just not cool. That also means you gotta keep your eyes peeled for what’s going on around you. It can feel like a LOT to keep track of, especially starting out…but don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.


2. Don’t Hog the Waves


Alright, moving on. So you caught a wave, rode it, and now you’re back at the lineup. Fantastic! But don’t be a wave hog. Surfing’s a communal experience; sharing is caring. Give others a chance to ride, especially if you’ve had your fair share of waves. Trust us; the ocean’s not running out of ‘em anytime soon.


3. Paddling Out? Steer Clear!


A huge aspect of surfing lessons on Oahu is paddling, in this case paddling out. Paddling back out through the waves while avoiding incoming surfers like a real-life game of Frogger. Here’s the lowdown—if you’re paddling back out, it’s YOUR responsibility to stay out of the way of the surfers riding the waves. If that means taking a little detour, then so be it.


4. Leash Etiquette


You’ve got your board on a leash, right? Good. But here’s the thing, if you wipe out, don’t let go of your board. A loose board can be a danger missile, and you don’t want to be the one causing accidents. 


5. Wait Your Turn


Some spots can get crowded. Like, really REALLY crowded. And in those situations, a lineup naturally forms where everyone takes turns. Try to recognize and respect the lineup. There’s no “cutting in line” in surfing (unless you want the same done to you).


6. Don’t Forget to Smile 🙂


Our number one suggestion for a beginner looking for surfing lessons on Oahu: smile. Surfing’s supposed to be fun! Remember that we’re all out there to enjoy the ocean. A smile or a quick nod can go a long way in making the lineup a friendlier place. So spread the stoke, yeah?


Closing It Up—Etiquette is Essential to Learning to Surf


So there you have it! The basic rules of surf etiquette for surfing lessons on Oahu. It may sound like a lot, but most of it is common sense and good manners. So go out there, catch some waves, and do it with respect for your fellow surfers. 

a man riding a wave on a surfboard in the ocean

Take a Surf Lesson


Want REAL surfing lessons on Oahu? They’re the best way to cut out the guesswork and learn quickly from experts. Contact Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience to get the most out of your water time. 

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