Surfing is an activity like no other. In an environment that’s constantly changing and moving, keeping up the pace sure is hard, which is why it’s often better to go with the flow or, in this case, with the wave.
That being said, in order to truly become one with the ocean and make the most out of your surf session, it’s best to gear up on tips and tricks. From extending the life of your surfing equipment to protecting your skin and staying safe, we’ve got you covered! Without further ado, here are 35 surfing hacks that will help you ‘slay’ the ocean and go from zero to hero:
Skincare & health hacks
Photo by Steve Crane
- Always apply sunscreen (and re-apply every couple of hours) when you are not using a wetsuit. It’s best to opt for natural products – in the form of a cream, not sprays. Check the label and make sure the product contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which form a barrier against the sun’s rays, absorbing UVA and UVB rays.
- For tropical burns, essential oils, such as lavender oil, can work wonders on your skin.
- If you wish to go out for a drink after a surfing session, you don’t have to worry about showering. You’d be interested to know that salt water cleanses your skin and removes excess oil. Therefore, simply rinsing your skin with fresh water should be enough. Apply coconut oil afterward to rehydrate your skin.
- Keep a spare deodorant stick in the car. You will probably forget to pack the one you have at home.
- Wear earplugs, especially when surfing in cold water. Exposure to cold water can lead to a condition called surfer’s ear.
- Pay attention to any pain that might occur in the joints or muscles. If this happens, for your own well-being and safety, be sure to take some time off to recover.
- Stay hydrated. Drink extra water before paddling out because salt water dehydrates.
- Take good care of your body just like an athlete would – train hard and surf harder. Pay attention to your nutrition and try to surf as often and as much as possible.
- This particular tip is for the ladies: when surfing in a bikini top, go for a criss-cross back. This will do a better job at preventing your bra from slipping off.
Surfing equipment hacks
Taking care of your wetsuit
- When putting your wetsuit on, use socks or plastic bags on your feet to make it easier to slip into it.
- If your skin is prone to developing rashes, use a rash guard underneath your wetsuit to soften the rub. Alternatively, you can apply Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on the area where you usually get rashes from your wetsuit. Other products that can protect and soothe your skin are Neosporin and Belly Jelly.
- Don’t dry your wetsuit in direct sunlight – it might damage the glue in the seams.
- When storing your wetsuit, use a designated wetsuit hanger. Normal hangers will wear out the wetsuit at the shoulders and stretch the neoprene, whereas a wetsuit hanger like the SlideHanger hangs your wetsuit by the waist, without stressing the material.
- Keep a plastic tub in your car. When you’re done surfing, take it out and sit in it when removing your wetsuit. Leave your wetsuit inside. This will prevent all that nasty sand from getting inside your car. Plus, you can use it as a washing bucket.
- Invest in a waterproof key holder. When you have to leave your car by the beach, instead of taping your keys to your car or hiding them somewhere, use something like the Northcore waterproof key pouch. You can simply carry it inside your wetsuit or drysuit.
Taking care of your surfboard
Photo by Andym5855
- Never leave your surfboard inside your car – it can get deformed and the heat inside can seriously damage it.
- Do not leave your surfboard out in the sun.
- Pack a large jug of warm water and use it after your surfing session to rinse your surfboard and wetsuit. Saltwater is corrosive and can shorten the lifespan of your gear. It’s best to clean it off as quickly as possible.
Photo by Richard Rydge
- Don’t wrap your leash around the tail of your surfboard. This can cause kinks along the leash, causing it to get coiled around your leg when surfing. This is not only annoying but can become quite dangerous too. Not to mention that touching the fins can cause weak points, and the leash might snap the next time you get wiped out. It’s better to remove the leash altogether. Also, do not drag it along on the sand.
- Don’t throw away old surf leashes. They can save your surfing session in case your current leash breaks.
- If you are traveling, use removable fin systems. If you do not have removable fins, slice open a tennis ball and place the halves over your fins for protection.
- Pack duct tape, even for short surfing sessions. It works wonders on skin cuts and minor surfboard and wetsuit repairs.
Wax cleaner - Photo credit northcore-europe.com
- Before waxing your surfboard, make sure you remove the excess wax. To clean excess wax from your surfboard, fill an old pair of tights with flour and make a ball the size of a grapefruit. Rub the ball along your surfboard to remove any remaining wax residue.
- When applying wax to a new board, apply in diagonal lines up the board, then back down crosshatch. This little trick will save wax. Using circular motions will consume more wax.
- Take your time to sit on the beach before you hit the surf. Observe the waves, see where they break, notice the sets of waves and intervals between them. Watch the other surfers – where are they sitting, how many waves they are catching and try to replicate their strategies.
- While watching the swell, do your warm-up.
- Get out of the water now and then and reevaluate your position. Tides tend to change throughout the day, and you might need to change your spot.
Photo by Richard Rydge
- In big wave surfing, don’t catch the first wave in a set, as tempting as it may look. The third and fourth waves are considered much safer.
- Don’t surf alone unless the swell is small and there are no sharks around.
- If a spot looks surfable, be patient and wait for the waves. Do not leave a spot in hope of finding a better one; you might end up sacrificing an entire day without actually surfing any waves.
Photo by Richard Rydge
- Do your research and learn how to accurately read a wave.
- Learn how to forecast surfing conditions. Meteorological diagrams of weather systems show fronts, wind direction, high/low pressure, etc. When learning to read them, you will be able to assess the surf all by yourself.
- If you are wearing rings on your fingers, please take note that you might lose them when surfing in cold water. To play safe, it’s better to take them off before you hit the waves. Make sure you have a reliable watch strap, as watches do tend to come off while surfing.
- Try to surf with other experienced surfers as they may just be able to share their own tips and tricks you can use to improve your surfing skills.
- Ultimately, if you truly wish to become a better surfer, it’s best to explore all the different waves the world’s oceans have to offer by traveling the globe!
These are our recommended tips and tricks for getting the most out of each day spent catching the waves. By now, you’re probably asking yourself “How did I not think about this before?” Well, it’s better late than never and now’s as good a time as any to put the above-mentioned surfing hacks to some good use. Remember that safety comes first, yours as well as others’. Respect the locals and the ocean. Last but not least, do share the knowledge and keep the good vibes alive!
Are you planning on going on a surfing holiday anytime soon? Be sure to put our surfing hacks to the test the next time you hit the waves!