We’re a weird bunch. Surfers have strange, kooky habits that often don’t make sense from afar. Luckily for you, we’re here to break down the five weirdest surfer habits. So sit back, relax and uncover why your surfer friends do the strange things they do.
1. Waxing the tops of our feet
If you’ve surfed any breaks with particularly rocky or pebbled entrances, you may have noticed something a bit odd about the regular surfers there. Surfers who have to do a bit of stone walking to get out into the lineup tend to wax the top of their feet in addition to the top of their boards. At first glance, this is incredibly odd, but there is some sound reasoning behind it. Walking on rocky underwater terrain is often difficult and requires a bit of balance, skill, and luck to stay upright. Algae make underwater rocky terrain exceptionally slick and hard to walk on, so why don’t surfers wax the bottoms of their feet not the tops? Surfers are waxing the tops of their feet, so they can store some extra traction for when they finally make it out to the lineup. Once out in the lineup, the surfers will rub the bottom of one foot onto the top of the other, transferring the wax and getting rid of any unwanted slickness and adding some extra traction for that first pop up.
2. Falling into surf speak
Whether you are a professional surfer or an accountant who happens to surf, if you’re talking surf with someone who is in the know, you will undoubtedly drop all formalities and fall into surf-speak. Now, what exactly does that mean? It means your exchange with your new surfing buddy will be full of words like, “stoke,” “gnarly,” “pitted,” and so much more. The only explanation for this is that basic English, or Spanish for that matter, cannot accurately describe the intricacies of wave riding.
3. Throwing Shakas
Shakas are the universal language of surf culture. You see someone you know out in the lineup, throw them a shaka. You see a stranger score a nice barrel from the channel, throw them a shaka. You’re taking a picture with buds, throw a shaka. Shakas originated in Hawaii but have since become ingrained in surf culture as a passing hello and sign of mutual respect.
4. Being particular about sunscreen
Sunscreen matters. There’s no denying that, but surfers, in particular, will shy away from certain types of sunscreen in favor of others. And it has nothing to do with skin protection. Most sunscreens have certain chemical compounds that wash off the body in the water and can kill coral reefs upon contact. Chemicals like Oxybenzone are found in most name brand sunscreen products and are incredibly harmful to coral reef life forms. Surfers spend every possible waking moment in the ocean, so naturally, they want to preserve it. Surfers often opt to purchase and use reef friendly sunscreen.
5. Our love-hate relationship with each other
If you’re at a party where you don’t know anyone, and you find out someone else surfs, you have an instant conversation topic and mutual respect for each other. If there’s one thing surfers love to do outside the water, its talk about surfing. But, if you see that same guy or girl and their ten or so friends at your local break when you are surfing alone, you might not be too happy. Surfers love and respect each other, but simultaneously love isolation.