Fiji surfing isn't a free-for-all. Surfers follow an unspoken set of rules designed to promote fairness and orderliness while reducing the risk of injury.
Those rules make up surfing etiquette. Adhere to them and you'll avoid trouble. Ignore them and you'll attract the disdain (and worse) of your fellow surfers.
Below, we'll cover 4 of the most important aspects of surfing etiquette to consider when visiting the top Fiji surf spots (Cloudbreak, Wilkes Pass, Restaurants, etc.). They'll help make your experience tackling the waves more rewarding.
Rule #1: Wait Your Turn
You see the perfect breaking wave. It promises to get you barrelled for 100 metres or more. So you ignore everyone around you and devote your attention to catching it.
Hold on a moment!
In the process of catching that perfect wave, are you snaking it from someone who has the right of way? Are you trying to position yourself near the peak out of turn?
Usually, the person closest to the peak when the wave starts to break has the right of way. Be a good sport and let that person take his or her turn.
Rule #2: Paddle Behind Nearby Surfers
Smart paddlers are to surfers as cats are to oncoming cars: they get out of the way. That's the correct response when you see someone barrelling toward your position. Don't paddle in front of that person; paddle behind him or her.
Paddling in front is not only rude, but may also result in injury if the other person runs you over.
Rule #3: Lend A Hand To Those In Need
If you see a surfer in trouble, be ready to offer help. Your assistance might mean the difference between that individual making it safely to shore and being lost in the water.
Fiji surfing can be dangerous, especially at spots like Cloudbreak. Most surfers try to look after one another and respond immediately when someone needs help.
Consider this: if you were the one in need, you'd want other surfers to come to your aid. So be ready to do likewise for others if the situation arises.
Rule #4: Keep A Tight Rein On Your Board
A surfboard to the head can do major damage. It can even be fatal. For that reason, take steps to control your board.
If a huge wave approaches and you're not positioned to catch it, don't just ditch your surfboard. Grab it firmly and duck under the approaching wave.
If you're confronted by a large swell of whitewater, do likewise. Grab your board and get under it.
Don't expect your leash to keep you attached to your surfboard. Leashes break. When they do, an errant board can hit another surfer and ruin his or her Fiji surf holiday.
At Namotu Island Resort, we encourage our guests to observe the surfing etiquette practiced at all of the local surf spots. That's the best way to enjoy the world-class surfing available off the shores of Namotu Island.