Surfing Safety Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Equipment

May 13th, 2024

Summertime is quickly approaching and our beaches here in Tofino are filling up. There are more and more surfers in the water, all different ages, skill levels, and intentions. That’s why it is important to know your way around the beach and in the waves in order to keep yourself and others safe, while protecting the gear as well.



Surfing is a fun and can be a dangerous sport. Things can go wrong quickly if we’re not present and alert. Here are 7 tips to make surfing a more safe and pleasant experience:

  1. Before you even leave home for surfing, check the daily conditions: swell and weather forecast, tidal information, possible hazards, and all of the information about the beach you plan to go to that day. 
  2. Wear a wetsuit: The Northwest Pacific Ocean’s temperature averages at 10℃. Cold water shock is a serious threat. It can seize your muscles and instantly stop your breath. Unless you’re going for a quick cold plunge, we recommend wearing a wetsuit for all water activities, even in the summer.  
  3. Create an ‘arm helmet’: always cover your head from every angle you can when falling off the surfboard. Keep your ‘helmet’ on until you can see your surroundings and make sure it’s safe.
  4. Once in the water, avoid touching the leash! When the surfboard slips away from you, swim to it, or do a back kick with your leg, and it will come back. Do not wrap the cord around your hand or reel in the board. You could end up with a broken, dislocated or even a severed finger.
  5. Never keep the surfboard between you and the wave. If the wave hits the board, it’ll come straight towards your head. Instead, keep the board on your side, holding it with one or both hands for easier maneuvering over the waves. However, if it happens and you can’t get away from the surfboard fast enough, dive under water where you’ll be safer. 
  6. Do not fight the rip! You can get caught in a rip current in shallow water and carried out a few hundred feet. To avoid that from happening, stay calm and start swimming parallel to the beach until you make it out. Panicking and swimming against the current will lead to faster exhaustion. Signal for help as soon as you realize you can’t make it out by yourself! 
  7. Always be aware of your surroundings: have a landmark on the beach to avoid drifting with the currents, keep an eye on the incoming waves, be aware of the fellow surfers around you and keep a safe distance from them, and be extra cautious during stormy weather. Staying alert at all times will help keep you and others safe in the surf. 



Surfboards might seem sturdy and durable at a first glance, but they can be damaged quite easily, especially the fins. It is important to take good care of it, either you own it, or rent it.

  1. Transport to the beach: the most common way is to strap the surfboard onto the roof of your car. If you need help with that, we offer complementary straps and soft racks with all the rentals. However, if your vehicle is big enough and you don’t mind a bit of salty water and sand, then storing them in the car could be a good option as well. In between the seats works. 
  2. Once you park, you’ll have to carry the board the rest of the way. You have two options: either hold it with both hands and rest it on top of your head, or hold it in one arm and rest it on your side, leaning on the hip. 
  3. Never drag the surfboard and do not lean it on the wall or the side of your car. Make sure it is tightly strapped and be careful not to drop it. When you arrive at the parking lot or the beach, lay it on the ground with fins pointed up and be careful not to run over it with your vehicle. 
  4. The fins are quite fragile, so don’t ride the surfboard into the sandbank, hop off before the water gets too shallow. 

surfing safety tips

If you’ve never surfed before or you’re new to this area, I recommend taking a surfing lesson. Our instructors will teach you all about the local hazards, tides, rips and currents, and show you how to properly handle the equipment. 

Happy surfing!


Lara & the Swell Team