Surf Hacks

You, too, can become one with the ocean — gear up with our tips for your next surfing adventure!

Surfing is really unlike any other sport — everything moves around you, while you must learn how to maneuver with it. Literally going with the flow. Finding complete harmony with the ocean yields a very powerful, unique and humbling connectivity to the world around you.

On our latest Yelapa-based FP Escapes, powered by Yogascapes, we had a chance to ride some waves in the tiny surf town of Quimixto, picking up a few key tips along the way that will keep you safe, healthy and beautiful on your next surf adventure.

Downtown Cut Offs

Suit up!

To keep your bikini top from falling off mid-wave, try a criss-cross back. They generally hang on with much more success than a triangle top.

If you have trouble with wetsuit rash, wear a rash guard underneath your suit, or use a water-based product like Bodyglide to protect you from getting a rash. Avoid using Vaseline or anything petroleum-based — it will rot your suit!

Put a plastic bag on your feet before your put on your wetsuit — they will slide in much easier.

Get a wetsuit or leash with a key holder. Don’t stash your keys under your wheel — so not worth the risk!


Catch some waves!

Spend some time watching the water before you paddle out. Observe the tides, where the waves break, who is catching the waves and where is he/she sitting.

Leave the water occasionally to reevaluate your position. Tides change and your offshore perspective can shift, so make sure to monitor your surroundings.

Wrap your towel in a hot water bottle before heading out. Upon your return to shore, you’ve got something toasty warm to snuggle up in.

Simply High Waist Bottom, High Neck Crop Top

Preserve your gear…

Bring a large jug of warm water to rinse your board and wetsuit. Salt water is corrosive and will decrease the life of your gear. An old laundry detergent bottle works great — pierce a few holes in the lid and use it as your own personal shower!

A thick hanger will help to dry your wetsuit quickly and will help to prevent wearing holes into the shoulders.

The sun is brutal on gear — never store anything outside. Build a rack in the garage or inside the house.

Before giving your board a new wax job, it’s important to remove any excess wax. Fill an old pair of tights with flour (should resemble a bean bag) and rub it along your deck to get rid of the old wax.

Basic Bottoms, Lowers Rash Guard

Pack your bags!

The most important thing to pack when going on a trip: a massive sarong. It’s such a versatile piece — you can use it as a shawl, head wrap, sarong or the perfect beach blanket.

Store your wax in a frisbee under your passenger seat. It’s the coolest place in the car and, if the wax does melt, it will be contained. Added bonus! Your whip will smell like surf wax!

Kanaio Bikini Top

Stay Beautiful

To best protect your skin from harmful UVA & UVB radiation, use a natural sunscreen (cream, not spray), packed with minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Apply 30 minutes before getting in the water and remember to reapply every 1-2 hours!

If you do catch a few more rays than planned, essential oil of lavender does wonders for topical burns!

Salt water removes many oils from your skin, so be sure to rinse off in fresh water and keep some coconut oil in the car to help rehydrate your skin.

Keep some deodorant in the car to refresh after your ride.

Stay hydrated! Drink an extra 16-20 oz right before you paddle out. Not only will it help to maintain your strength and endurance, it will also  control your internal temperature, which will allow you to stay out longer.

A well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is key to keeping your body performing at its best. A good morning pre-surf meal should be low in fat and high in fiber. Before your next ride, fuel up with one of these energy-boosting snacks:

  • Acai berry banana bowl
  • Whole wheat tortilla spread with almond butter and banana slices
  • Pita bread with hummus, lettuce, cucumbers and olives
  • Handlful of almonds, walnuts and dried fruit

The best way to score some beautiful beachy locks is…to take a quick dip in the ocean. But, if you want/need to recreate this look at home, we’ve put together a natural DIY salt spray recipe that will give your hair an effortless, salt-water-sculpted vibe.

Printed Halter Top

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp organic coconut oil (melted) or argan oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt (add more for a beachier look)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp leave-in conditioner
  • Dab of pomade
  • Spray bottle

Note: Adding a few drops of essential oil (lavender or jasmine are great!) will add a refreshing smell to your spray.

Step 1: Pour hot water and sea salt into spray bottle and shake until salt is dissolved.

Step 2: Combine oil, leave-in conditioner & pomade in separate bowl and add mixture to the spray bottle.

Step 3: If desired, add a few drops of your choice of essential oil. Shake the bottle until all ingredients are combined (a minute or so should do the trick).

Now you’re styling! Apply spray liberally to towel-dried hair and scrunch away.

Tip: Try putting your hair in a loose bun or braid while you wait for it to dry. When it’s time to let your hair down, give it one last spritz and scrunch for extra wave.

Printed Halter Top, Zinke Emmi Solid Bottoms

Shop all Free People Surf!

+ Any other surf hacks? Let us know!

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5 years ago

Surfing looks like so much fun! I think it feels a bit like skiing, which always makes me feel so free.

5 years ago

Wow, this post makes me want to hit the road to a warm beach so bad! As a Midwesterner I rarely see big surfable waves.

5 years ago

I moved to Oahu last year and have been on a quest to learn to surf. Some tips I have for newbies like me: Make time to stretch your arms, back, and legs before you get in the water. If you do this on the beach, you can scope out the conditions at the same time! I also practice the pop-up on dry land a few times to work on building into my muscle memory. If you fall a lot like I do, your hair will get very tangled by the ocean. Work coconut oil into your locks before and after you get out in the water and you will save yourself from knots. If you have bony hips and ribs, you may get bruises on your front side your first few sessions. Wearing board shorts and a rash guard helps prevent bruising and also protects your skin from the sun. Finally, always load on the sunscreen. Your face is the most important and many of the creams you get from the drug store will run into your eyes and burn. I’ve been layering on 3 layers of Physician’s Formula Argan Wear Ultra-nourishing Argan Oil BB Cream which has SP30. It doesn’t run into your eyes, even on really hot days, and stays on in the water. Reapply every other hour. Don’t forget sunblock on the back of your legs, especially if you ride a longboard where your legs are exposed to the sun. Hope this is helpful, happy surfing!!!

5 years ago

Great post – some friends and I who are all in our 40s learnt to surf last year in the UK after our kids caught the bug. The three of us have all been surfing all winter so far – in thick winter wetsuits, boots, gloves and hats. It’s brilliant exercise, however bad a day I’ve had getting in the water makes it better and it’s made the dull grey UK winter a whole lot shorter!

5 years ago

surf has changed my life and gave it a direction. everything is about the ocean to me.

5 years ago

surf has changed my life and gave it a direction. everything is about the ocean to me.