7 Safety Tips for Surfing on Oahu

Surfing is not only a great sport for thrill-seekers and adventurers but it’s also a fantastic pastime and hobby. That said, it’s not without its own set of risks and dangers. As any experienced surfer will tell tell you, safety is your number one priority in the water and should be taken seriously. Planning ahead is truly key to a safe and fun day in the water. In fact, the vast majority of dangers can be reduced and/or eliminated just by being aware and prepared.

For more information on how to stay safe while surfing on Oahu, keep reading below!

man looking at ocean holding a surfboard

Safety While Surfing

Safety while surfing isn’t just for your protection but for others as well. That’s why it’s really important that you are prepared before ever entering the water. There are plenty of things you can do to stay safe while surfing. Below are our top 7 tips:

Learn about the ocean

If you want to learn to surf, you should first learn about the ocean. While surfing is done riding waves on top of the water, there is still an entire world underneath that deserves your respect. Therefore, learning about dangerous water conditions like rip currents, wind, swell directions and conditions, will help you enjoy your surf sessions and keep you and others around you safe. 

Rip currents

Rip currents are a normal part of the ocean but they are extremely dangerous to swimmers and surfers. Rip currents are incredibly powerful channeled currents that occur near breaking waves. They can drag a strong and healthy adult underneath the waves and straight out to sea in seconds. They’re dangerous and for some unprepared swimmers, deadly. Understanding how they work as well as how to escape them is extremely important if you intend to surf. 

Wind & Swell Direction

Waves are created by large storms and wind generated from those storms. Learning about the ocean swells that create the surf are key to keeping you safe. You should never go out in surf that is beyond your ability. Knowing how the winds affect the waves will also keep you safe and enjoy your surf more as strong winds from the wrong direction can create stormy hazardous conditions.


You should be learning about the underwater ecosystem as well. This not only includes the coral and reef system but also the wildlife of fish and mammals. Learning about their habits and their behaviors can mean the difference between a safe and enjoyable afternoon or a major emergency. 

Warm up first

Before ever entering the water, it’s extremely important that you spend 15-20 minutes warming up first. You might be wondering why this is beneficial to your safety. The answer is pretty simple – the more stretching you do, the healthier your body will be. This, in turn, means less soreness following your surf session and injury to your muscles. Trust us, your body will thank you for this later.

Come prepared

For your safety, you should also come prepared with the correct gear and protection. This includes sun protection and surf gear that can protect you from harmful rays and injuries.

Sun protection

While it might be tempting to pick up some high SPF sunscreen before heading for the waves, you might want to reconsider. Hawaii has laws that ban the use of chemical sunscreens in order to protect the fragile ecosystem from further damage. Choose an ocean friendly chemical free mineral based sunscreen.  Another great option is to use a lycra rashguard. They’re incredibly lightweight and will keep your skin safe while also protecting the environment. 

Invest in gear

Some other gear to consider investing in can include a soft top surfboard, helmet, leash and deck grip for your surfboard. Especially if you’re new to the sport, these items can make a world of difference in terms of your safety. 

Hold onto your board

It’s critical to protect yourself and others around you from potential accidents. It’s very important to always be aware of your surroundings and others surfers. You should always do your best to keep control of your surfboard. If you have to throw your board because of an approaching wave be sure to stop, look behind you and to both sides of you to ensure you are not bailing your board into someone that could be hit by your loose board. Always keep control of your surfboard for your safety and for others. 

Follow proper etiquette 

Believe it or not, there is a long list of proper etiquette rules when it comes to surfing.  This includes understanding the right of way as well as bad habits such as dropping in and snaking other surfers. Knowing proper surf etiquette ahead of time will save you a lot of headache in the water and will put you in better standing with the other surfers around you. 

Know your limits

Just like with any sport, it’s always important to know your personal limits and not go out in surf that is beyond your ability. It may be tempting to go out and surf large waves but if you’re still learning the ropes, you might want to hang back. Jumping ahead of yourself just because you see others doing it can spell disaster for you and your fellow surfers. Learn to be humble and accept that you can’t surf like a pro until you put in the hours and the practice. 

Additionally, make sure that you’re giving yourself plenty of breaks to eat a healthy snack or drink some fresh water. Both will keep your energy stores up and allow your body to rest for a bit between surf sessions.

Surfing on Oahu

Are you ready to hit the water and enjoy some waves? If so, look no further than SurfNSea for all of your surfing needs. We offer everything you need for your surfing journey, including surfing lessons and surfing rentals. Not to mention the best surfing on Oahu! Whether you’re a beginner looking for some guidance and direction, or you’re a pro in need of some new gear, we have it all for you. 

So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today, we’ll have you out in the water and surfing like a pro in no time!