Surf safety fundamentals for total beginners

Surfing is an extreme sport, and surfers need to be aware about many factors: the waves, rocks and currents at the spot, other people, dangerous animals, tides...

Let's get familiar with some fundamentals about safety, so that you can enjoy your first waves more relaxed.

Group of surf students walking in the beach while holding their surfboards

Tip 1: Take classes instead of figuring it out all by yourself

As a first time surfer, some of the dangers in the water are simply not visible, because they are unknown.

Taking classes with a professional instructor will not only help you learn faster, but also ensure that you do so in safe conditions (and covered by an insurance).

Surfer swimming to catch her board

Tip 2: Hold your board with two hands

Surfboards are a frequent cause of injuries. To avoid this, hold your board firmly with two hands whenever you're not on it and a broken wave approaches.

Never pull your board from the leash or fins, as this can injure your fingers super easily.

Surfer falling down from his board

Tip 3: Protect your head with your arms when falling down

After falling down, you might be hit by a surfboard or another surfer. Wrap both your arms around your head until get back above the water surface and see what is around you.

Busy crowd of surfers

Tip 4: Stay aware of your environment

During the surf session, your position constantly changes, affected by the waves and currents. Make sure to keep a safety distance from other surfers as well as from potential obstacles (like rocks).

Use elements at the beach (a tree, parked car, parasol...) as reference point to know your position and whether the currents are pushing you.

Surfer falling down from his board

Tip 5: Fall out of your surfboard safely

Water is likely to be shallow at the end of your ride. Do not jump out of the board head first, also avoid going feet first, as sprained ankles are a common injury for beginner surfers.

A safer solution is to let yourself fall from the back.

Exhausted happy surfer

Tip 6: Save your energy

Surfing is very intense on the body, and tends to quickly get exhausting. Don't fight the white water whenever you get pushed under it. Just remain stable and quiet until you get back up to the surface.

Get out of the water and take a break whenever you need. Take your time, recover your breath. Stay hydrated and energized.

More tips

The surf education website Barefoot surf* has published their own article covering 11 Security Aspects of Surfing, which is complementary to the current one. We encourage you to check it out.

Let's close the topic with a touch of humor, with even more tips from "The Raglan Surf Report" youtube channel:

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ℹī¸ We hope that these tips are useful to you. There is a lot more to tell about safety in surf.

We're preparing more articles, and you can help us do so by contributing or sponsoring us.


The photos illustrating the tips have been provided by talented photographers via website:

* is affiliated to Barefoot surf, meaning that we get a commission in case you decide to make a purchase throught the link, at no cost to you. The linked article is totally free.

Last update: 15 Apr 2023.