Travelling, finding and shredding new waves is one of the great joys of surfing life but it can go sour if you approach it with the wrong attitude. Or the wrong crew. Once etiquette breaks down ruffled feathers, negative vibes and car park show-downs are never far away. Let’s avoid all that can we?

1. Respect the locals.

The golden rule. There are established hierarchies at most surf breaks in which established locals tend to get the best waves. This may not be perfectly fair. Maybe you have a different philosophy about equality and the ocean being open to all takers. That’s a revolution you’re welcome to put into practice at your home break. But when surfing away, its best to smile, go with the flow, blend in.  

2. Be aware of regional differences.

A sub-clause to the above. Perfectly acceptable behaviour at many surf breaks can be seen as aggressively provocative at others. Photographing certain Victorian waves may get you run out of town. At some South Aussie breaks you’re expected to wait until the line-up is emptied before you paddle out. Bodyboarders are not always welcome at Cape Solander but are free to pile on at nearby Shark Island. Not knowing these (and many others) is a sure way to identify yourself as an outsider.  

3. Don’t paddle out in a pack.

Nothing upsets the delicate harmony of a line-up more rapidly than an invasion of highway surfers. Try to travel in a small group if you’re heading to a crowd -sensitive region. Two ideally, three max. Arrive solo at any surf break in the world and you’ll go unnoticed or make friends. If you’re away on a bucks show or some sort of end of season footy bash, consider finding your own peak further down the beach so you can go hog-wild.

4. Leave only footprints.

You’ll get away with free camping most places if you don’t leave a mess behind. But the minute you start leaving beer cans, fire pits, orchy bottles and knotted condoms in your wake you start making enemies and ruining it for other travellers. No one wants to clean up your shit. On the flipside pick up after others you’ll be earning sweet karma points and be welcome everywhere. 

5. Go easy on social media

After scoring great waves posting evidence can feel like licking the icing off the cake. But social media is a beast with no cage. Who knows where that revealing shot will end up once its reposted or shared. You may not name the wave in question but someone else might. There is more potential for secrets to be blown on social media than in surf mags. If you must share – why not share a six pack and a series of wildly inflated stories with your real life friends like back in the olden days?