An Essential Etiquette Guide for Surfing in Biarritz

Photo of Jennifer Migan
8 November 2017

You finally made it to the Basque Country because you heard that the region is the epicentre of surfing in France. Before you unleash your inner Lair Hamilton with your newly bought surfboard and ride the Bay of Biscay all day long, you might want to learn a few rules about surf etiquette.

Follow the rules in the ocean| | © elkhiki / Flickr

Safety at all times

You should be extremely careful about your surroundings when surfing. It’s not just you in the ocean, so make sure that you’re not endangering the other surfers’ safety with your surfboard or behaviour.

Be modest and humble

Don’t be cocky and overestimate yourself; you should take some classes if you have never tried surfing before and you should use surfing material that matches your abilities, not your fantasies.

Take a lesson first| | © Jamin / WikiCommons

Practice on land first

It might feel silly, but it’s highly recommended that beginners practice their takeoff (the start of your ride) on the sand first. It is a very good way to train yourself to be balanced before jumping in the ocean.

Ride with a buddy

Especially when you’re a beginner, you should never go surfing alone. In case something goes wrong, it’s best to have someone nearby to rescue you or get help if need be. This is not mandatory for advanced surfers, although they should be careful too.

Don’t ride alone| | © Pierre / Flickr

Be knowledgeable about the environment

Before you venture out into an unknown territory, make sure that you know what type of waves you’re surfing. At ‘beach breaks’, the waves are breaking on a sand bottom. At ‘reef breaks’, the waves break over a rock bottom, which is the case for most of the world’s biggest and heaviest waves. Surfers also talk about ‘point breaks’ when lines of swell hit a part of land at a perpendicular angle and break that part of the land along and around.

Be aware of the environment| | © David Whittaker / Pexels

Follow the rules

Don’t try to impress and act recklessly. Surfers have no patience for uncivilised behaviour in the ocean. The number one rule of priority in the ocean is pretty basic – one wave, one surfer.

Avoid thunderstorm

It may feel like a given, but do not ride when the forecast announces that a thunderstorm is coming. It might look tempting, but it’s pretty dangerous. To plan ahead, check Surf Report website, which gives pretty accurate forecasts every day.

Watch the storm| | © Fanny Schertzer / WikiCommons

Seek your sweet spot

Surfing is a lot about balance and each surfboard has a sweet spot in which there is the same amount of weight and volume on either side of the board, both forward and at the back. To find your sweet spot, hold your board palm up on your hand like a scale and see where the board is levelled. This is your sweet spot. Enjoy the ride!

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