Surfing and travel go together like surfing and…localism. It’s true, we surfers have created quite a little conundrum for ourselves. We all want to travel, but we don’t want anyone to travel to our spots. We want to have our break and eat it too. And, for every wave that you’ve been dying to surf, you can all but guarantee there is a local there who doesn’t want you to surf it. Can’t we all just get along? No, we can’t, but if you follow the advice below you can avoid looking like a kook and might not get your butt kicked.
This is imperative. Follow basic surf etiquette. Don’t be obnoxious. Be friendly and courteous. Don’t litter. Don’t draw attention to yourself in the parking lot. Basically act the way you would want people to act if they were surfing in your backyard.
Travel in Small Groups
Solo is ideal, but unless you’re an MMA fighter, it’s probably best to have a like-minded friend to have your back.
This doesn’t always mean all-black wetsuit with an all white board. It means try to look like you belong there. If you’re at a semi-secret spot up north, by all means stick to the all-black ninja look. If you’re in Newport or VA beach, wear some neon and rock the stickers (it helps if you actually rip).
Watch the Locals
Nothing screams kook like getting washed over the reef. Watch the locals to figure out where to exit and enter the water. When it comes to navigating reef, research is always better than learning through experience.
Let your Surfing do the Talking
If you surf well, you will get waves. Exceptions apply at elite waves, but as a rule, if you are respectful, take off deep and execute a mean turn, you won’t have any trouble.
Don’t Blow up the Spot
If you’re on your cell phone blabbing about how it’s firing, you probably won’t make many friends. Unless you’re in certain places in Southern California, in which case you might just blend in.
Know Your Limits
If you can barely perform a bottom turn you should never paddle out at Trestles. If everyone in the water is a significantly better surfer than you, you’re probably in the way. It’s always good to push yourself, but make sure you’ve mastered the basics at a beginner break before you step out of the baby pool.
Don’t be a Total Kook
The leash goes on the back foot. The wax goes on the top of the board– nose to tail, rail to rail for a longboard, traction pad to chest-area for a short board. Don’t wear goggles unless absolutely medically necessary. Booties with a springsuit is a fashion decision that must not be taken lightly. Fins must face a certain way. If you’re clueless, ask your local surf shop. All of these things should go without saying, but let’s face it, they need to be said.