Surf safety and surf etiquette are paramount to an enjoyable surf session for everyone involved.
Surfing is fun, it’s adrenaline-pumping and life-changing.
Surfing can also be dangerous to you, and those around you. Like any sport or activity, there are guidelines for best practices. Keep reading, to discover how you can maximize your own surf etiquette and general surf safety while minimizing the chance of accidents. No one wants to experience conflicts with other surfers, but everyone enjoys good vibes and good karma!
Select the most appropriate location for your skill level. If in doubt, ask your local surf shop.
The surfer closest to where the wave broke has priority, or in some places, it’s the person first on their feet. Use discretion and your observation skills and remember, if in doubt, don’t drop in!
Stay out of the way of other surfers- when paddling out, paddle towards the broken part of the wave so you avoid interfering with surfers on the green face.
Don’t be a wave hog- take turns, encourage others.
Be observant, pay attention at all times.
Assist a fellow surfer in trouble or distress.
Spend a little time speaking to locals before surfing- figure out the local vibe, how best to fit in.
Your board is a missile and has the potential to harm another person. Never ditch your board when a surfer is behind you- hold onto it like a life depends on it. Remember a 9ft board with a 9ft leash has a reach of close to 20 feet…. and your fellow surfer on a similar board has the same… try and keep a good 40ft from other beginners.
Surf etiquette is something all good surf schools should teach. A quality surf lesson, with a mature instructor and good track record will start you off on the right foot!
Remember to relax, have fun, and don’t be a jerk. Smile, share and lift the spirits of those around you. Before heading out to surf, consider a good warm up, a work-out, getting some of the extra energy out. In this way, you aren’t depending on catching 50 waves at the expense of everyone else’s fun!
By now, you may have come to your own conclusion that bringing a surfboard with you makes no sense financially. We all would prefer to travel with our own, tried and trusted surfboard. High airline surfboard carrying rates, the distinct possibility of same said airline damaging your board and it being unrideable regardless, is pointing you in the direction of renting a surfboard while on vacation in Costa Rica.
A long standing stigma has been attached to ‘rental surfboards’- in times gone by, they were usually old, yellowed, junky boards. No one would want to be seen riding one, highlighting the fact that you are a traveling surfer, not a local, and on top of that, a tourist!
Thankfully, those days are behind us here in sunny Costa Rica. Even in the little community of Playa Grande, you can find brand new off the rack, lightly used, or standard surfboard rentals at rates that make airline fees look like Teahupoo compared to Waikiki.
While some of the upsides of renting a board include getting to try something without having to buy it, possibility of renting a brand new board for the fraction of the cost of that board, being able to switch out boards if the swell or surf conditions change.. there are potential downsides too, if you are not aware of how to avoid them.
No matter where you rent a surfboard in Costa Rica, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, make sure you inspect the surfboard thoroughly prior to walking out the door with it. Below is a quick checklist for newbies to surfboard rental:
Check the fins, check where the fins attach to the board (called the fin boxes). Make sure there are no cracks in the fin boxes, and make a note of how many fins are on the board.
Check all the way around the surfboard (the sides are called the ‘rails’) and particularly inspect the nose (front) and tail (back) of the board. Make note with the shop assistant of any dings on your rental form. Generally we note down just the open dings, areas that water can enter the surfboard. Pressure dings are indentions made by a knee or elbow, hopefully not your head 🙂
Check that there is a leash on the board, and sufficient wax so you don’t slide off.
If you are a beginner surfboard, read below on how to NOT damage your surfboard!!
If you are unsure of how to transport the surfboard, ensure you ask someone at the surf shop to show you the best way to secure the surfboard to the roof of your vehicle. At Frijoles Locos, we provide the use of tie-down straps for free to those renting surfboards.
You will need a valid credit card or your passport to rent a surfboard. At Frijoles Locos, we take a swipe of your credit card, opening a tab/ account for you, which you can utilize throughout your week here in Playa Grande.
If something happens to the surfboard you have rented, you are advised to bring it back to the shop asap so it can be repaired. You will be charged for any dings/ damage to the board. This is why it is so important to check over the board prior to renting it. If there was a ding/ damage there already, and it was not noted, you will be responsible for it. If it were your own board, you would need to fix it, so it is not such a surprise that you must pay the cost to repair a rental board.
Some Surfboard Rental Considerations (where-ever you might be renting a surfboard):
Always ask for the replacement cost of the surfboard in the event it is broken or stolen.
If you would like a surf board with a lower replacement value, ask your shop assistant to help to select one. If the board is broken or stolen, you will be responsible for the replacement fee.
As a beginner surfer, still learning how to ride waves, you are less likely to need a ‘performance surfboard’, nor will you want the higher replacement cost associated with breaking it or if it is stolen.
Please take care of the equipment, and honor the fact that if you break it, you will pay for it. If you borrow a friend’s board, would you replace it if you broke it? If someone borrowed your equipment, what would you expect from them?
Please be sure to check over your rental surf board and/ or equipment, just as you would a rental car, as any unrecorded dings/ broken fins/ damages, will be your responsibility.
How to Avoid Having Your Rental Board Damaged, Broken or Stolen:
Never leave your surfboard out of your sight, not in the car, not on the beach, even if you are just grabbing a drink, take your board with you.
Never leave your boards on the roof of the car, or inside the car, even if you have paid a ‘guard’ to watch them. Not even for a minute. Your boards are worth more than a month’s pay to them, so don’t leave the temptation there.
Avoid breaking your board by sticking to the area of the surf that are suitable for your abilities. If you are a beginner, and the waves are big, stay where the waves have already broken (called the white water) and practice standing up here. Nose-diving the board is generally how a board breaks, so avoid steep, fast waves outside your ability especially at low tide here in Playa Grande.
Avoid busting your fins by being aware of how close you are to the shore-jump off your board before it gets too shallow, where your fins will hit the sand and bust out. They are not cheap to fix. A broken fin and fin box will cost at least $45.
Never leave your board standing upright, never lean it against a wall or a tree – it can very easily be knocked down by the wind and smash against the ground or another hard surface. On windy days, be especially careful of leaving the board on the roof unsecured- it will fly off!
Make sure to observe your shop attendant while they securely strap your boards to the roof of your car. A sure way to lose your board or cause great damage is by not learning how to safely strap the boards to the roof! Always have the fins facing the sky, and at the front of the car. Check that it is secure, as the bumpy roads will shake loose a poorly secured board. Please do not stick the surfboard through the windows of the vehicle- it is very dangerous for pedestrians, other vehicles and for your board.
If you are keeping your surfboard inside your hotel room, be aware of ceiling fans.
Do not allow children to stand on the surfboard at any time unless it is in the water or you have already ensured that the fins are pushed carefully down into a sandy place. If you don’t, you will be likely to break a fin or at worse, break the board in half.
Try to find a quiet area of the beach where there are the least amount of other surfers. This is even more important if you are not very experienced. You should never paddle out where there are a lot of other surfers, as you will be a hazard to yourself and to others.
We hope that these pointers help make your rental experience much more pleasant. It is never fun to have to pay for damages to your surfboard or possessions!