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Surf Etiquette a talk story by Zander Morton

Surf Etiquette - It's Time We Talk Story

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Aloha surfers! I recently came across an enlightening article by veteran surf journalist Zander Morton. He discussed the concerning rise of hostility and lack of etiquette he’s observed in the water.

Morton referenced a Nate Florence and Koa Rothman podcast episode where they vented about the frequent lack of respect in the lineup these days. As seasoned pros, they had some crazy stories to share.

According to Morton’s recap, Florence and Rothman described surfers blatantly dropping in, aggressively snaking, and basically acting like they own the ocean. As the veterans made clear, that type of attitude is totally uncool.

Morton added how Florence and Rothman pointed to a few key factors leading to the surf etiquette crisis - massive crowds as the sport grows rapidly, newcomers and groms simply not aware of proper protocol, and some hothead attitudes.

The pros stressed to Morton the critical need for mutual understanding and preserving aloha spirit in the water. Experienced surfers have a kuleana to educate the unfamiliar and lead by example. Communication, patience, and simply spreading good vibes are crucial too.

In his article, Morton highlighted the urgency of restoring respect, with pro surfing exploding in popularity. He agreed with the veterans that bringing back the roots of surf culture and etiquette should be a shared effort.

After reading Zander’s insightful piece, I couldn’t agree more with the message. While there are more people surfing than ever, there are also enough waves if we stay cool. Let’s honor the tradition of surfing by passing values like patience and aloha to the next generation. I appreciate legends like Florence and Rothman sounding the call, as well as journalists like Morton spreading this important story. 

In a similar idea, one perspective from Matt Rott which I have also shared in my website is that in the context of surfing, it's essential for newcomers to respect the fact that others have been surfing at specific spots for an extended period and likely possess a better understanding of the waves. Therefore, when approaching a new surf spot, it's advisable to proceed with caution. Take your time to observe the situation from the shoulder, watching the wave dynamics and understanding where everyone is positioned and whose turn it is to catch a wave. Slowly integrate yourself into the rotation rather than paddling out and immediately heading to the top of the peak. Acting in such a way would not only be considered selfish but could also lead to negative consequences, including potential conflict or being asked to leave the spot. Building rapport and making friends in the surfing community require respectful and considerate behavior towards other surfers and the established dynamics of each surf spot.


We need to reflect on how to best share the waves while avoiding hostility. As the sport's popularity booms, it's crucial we keep our cool and treat each other with respect. We all gotta remember why we surf - to have fun and spread good vibes! Regardless of whether you are an experienced professional surfer or sharing the lineup with beginners, it's essential to avoid being selfish. Being skilled doesn't give you the right to hog all the waves. The key principle is to take turns and share the waves with others. Embrace the joy of witnessing someone else catching a wave, realizing that it can be just as gratifying as riding one yourself. Remember, surfing is a communal and enjoyable experience when everyone respects each other and shares the stoke of catching waves together.

As we get more crowded lineups, talking story and keeping perspective is key. Let's pass on the tradition of respect to the next generation. Paddle out there with aloha for your fellow waterpeople. There's enough waves for everyone if we share. Thanks for reading Zander's thoughts and mine about restoring the aloha spirit!

Full Article becoming-an-epidemic



For more on this related topic, check out blog posts here:

 Surf Etiquette