5 tips for surfing in crowded spots and still have fun

Many beginners and improvers are not comfortable when there are other surfers around. In some popular surf destinations, a few enthusiastic beginners don't realize that there are rules to follow, nor that they are not in control of their board and trajectory. When progressing, it is also not always easy to switch to a new spot, and find waves to catch while staying out of the way of more advanced surfers.

Are you in this case? Then here are 5 tips which should help bringing the fun back into surfing.

Busy crowd of surfers

Tip 1: Know and follow the surf etiquette

The rules of surf etiquette are designed to not only ensure safety while surfing, but also to maximize the number of waves surfed.

Get familiar with it, it will help you being more confident in the water. A good resource to learn the etiquette is this article by Barefoot surf.

Surfer announcing his intent to the crowd

Tip 2: Communicate

-"Are you going for this wave?" -"Left or right?" -"I go right!"

Some surfers tend to be too silent during the sessions. Ask when in doubt, tell when you're about to do something. This is a good habit to take, as it dramatically reduces the risk of misunderstandings.

Group of surfers queuing in the lineup

Tip 3: Take turns and share the waves

After catching a wave, don't paddle directly back to the peak. Start queuing behind the surfers who are already waiting.

If you've been catching a lot of waves, offer the next one to another surfer who hasn't been so lucky, even if you have the priority. You'll earn their gratitude, and they are likely to return the favor.

Two surfers about to crash on each other

Tip 4: Stay calm and be friendly

Some people might do something dangerous for themselves, or other surfers. There is no need to shout or to be aggressive at them. Explain what the problem is, and why their behavior is not safe or not suitable. They will be much more receptive this way.

Everybody makes mistakes at some point. If you make one, acknowledge that you did, apologize.

Crowd of surfers waiting for a set

Tip 5: If it's too crowded, look for another spot

Sometimes, there's just no point, there are just too many people for the spot, and it is not safe out there.

Instead, go surfing somewhere else. The waves might be less nice, but at least you'll have more opportunities to catch some - and you'll avoid accidents. Another alternative is to surf at less frequented hours.

More tips

Another important factor to catch more waves during a crowded session is the positioning. The article Learn How To Position Yourself To Catch Better Waves by Barefoot surf* is a great resource about this topic, check it out!

Let's close the topic with a touch of humor. Underneath the satire, Luke Cederman from "The Raglan Surf Report" makes a pretty relevant point about positioning in the line up in the video below:

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ℹī¸ While we have covered most basics here, there is a lot more to learn about 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 photographs:

* Affiliate disclosure: Gonna.surf 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.