Guide to SUP surf etiquette

So you’ve picked up one of our fantastic SUP boards for sale and are ready to hit the waves!

Nothing will end your session quicker than stink-eye from the locals, so we thought we’d help you by compiling an SUP surf etiquette guide that will help you to avoid any potential mishaps in the line-up!

Find a peak with the least surfers on it

Spend 5 minutes prior to your surf watching the line-up, count the set waves and watch where they are breaking. You’ll also get to see where the crowd is sat and any empty peaks that might be coming through, along with any channels of calm water that you can utilise.

Paddle out around the break

After watching the line-up you’ll be able to see where the best place to paddle out is. Start your paddle in the break between set waves and make sure you don’t get in the way of people surfing on a wave.

Ditching your board

We all get caught inside of a breaking wave and one of the worst things to do is bail your board. Bailing is only OK in big wave surfing when there is no other way to get through. Ditching your board can lead to an injury to those left in your wake as well as damaging your board. If you must bail your ride, look around and make sure no one is behind you and hold on to the bottom of the leash near the plug as you dive through the whitewater.

Scan the line-up

So you’ve made it out back, one of the first things to do is glance around and see who’s out there. Those people are ahead of you in turn for the next wave and grabbing one before them is a big no-no. Identify the alpha male in the line-up and give a friendly but silent nod! He’s the one that regulates the line-up so getting in his way could end your session pretty quickly.

Waiting your turn

After you’ve established the pecking order you’ll figure out when your turn for a wave is. When your turn comes, paddle hard and confidently, you get one attempt at this as falling off could mean you won’t get another chance!

Give a few waves to other surfers

Nothing will endear you to a new line-up more than giving away a few rides. If someone paddles alongside you, give them a smile and let them have the wave.

Call impending sets

When stood on your SUP you’ll have a great vantage point for impending set waves. When you spot them, call out “set on” to the local crew and even which wave is best. The locals will see you know a thing or two and may even give you the next bomb.

Because you’re standing, you can see the set waves coming before anyone, so tell the surf crew that a set is coming and which wave is better. In this way, you dish up some good waves to the crew and they start to think you’re not so stupid, not cool yet, but not so bad.

Be cautious of wave count

You’ve got a few waves under your belt, but remember to be aware of getting too many of the really good waves. It’s easy to do and there’s nothing worse than a wave-hog! Get a few good ones and move down to a quieter peak and repeat the process depending on the duration of your session.

Never drop in

The number one rule when surfing on any craft is to never drop in. If someone’s already gliding across the wave, don’t even paddle for it.


Snaking is when you paddle around someone into the prime position to catch a wave. Even if they are just sitting on their board, never paddle around them.

Be aware of those around you when surfing a wave

You’re up for a wave and start paddling, give a quick glance down the line to see if anyone’s paddling out or those who are caught inside. If you’re skilled enough you’ll be able to go around them, but if you’re a beginner, pull back and wait for a quieter opportunity.

Be in control of your gear

As we mentioned earlier bailing your board is not looked upon kindly, but this also applies to your paddle as well. Hitting another surfer with a board or paddle will more than likely see you ordered in to the beach with your tail between your legs.

Strap on a shorter leash

Using a shorter leash around the 6-7-foot mark will keep the board closer to you after a wipe-out and reduce the risk of it pinging off and hitting someone. A shorter leash also reduces the risk of it tangling up between your legs.

Opt for wider breaking waves

To increase your wave count without looking greedy, catch wider breaking walls that break further out or in deeper positions. These waves are often missed by surfers in the line-up as they can’t paddle into them quick enough, but on your SUP, this isn’t a problem you’ll face.

Build rapport

A surf line-up is tight-knit community and are that way because the surfers have spent many years together bonding and talking in the sea. You will be able to join this group by being friendly, smiling, not snaking or dropping in, showing respect and not acting like a SUP kook!

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