Surfing the age of COVID-19

Surfing during COVID19 at Queens, WaikikiAre party waves still cool in the age of social distancing and COVID-19? Hawaii has issued a stay at home order but has allowed some exceptions. Luckily, venturing out for recreational activity including surfing is one. But how does one stay safe while enjoying this healthy exercise? 

These days it seems we have more questions than answers, but we have come up with a few things to consider when heading out with your custom T&C Surf board, or other favorite ocean sled. 

First, does this coronavirus live in salt water? Surfrider Foundation staff scientist Katie Day, recently attended a Coronavirus Research Update webinar hosted by the Water Research Foundation, and attempted to shed light on whether spending time in coastal waterways could increase the risk of contracting the virus.

In response to questions sent in from the surf community, she wrote, “The virus has been shown to remain viable and infectious, at least temporarily, in natural freshwater environments including lakes and streams,” she continued noting the dilution is suspected to keep the risk low. “There was no information shared on the ability of the COVID-19 virus to remain viable in saltwater, so it’s unclear if swimming at saltwater beaches elevates the risk of contracting COVID-19. However, communal spread is a serious issue so spending time at popular beaches, if in close contact to other beachgoers, will increase your risk.”

Since Hawaii has closed popular beach parks, cruising on the beach in groups is less likely and obviously to be avoided. But what about out in the lineup? How close is too close? 

We all have at some point spotted a friend in the lineup and paddled over to him or her to give handshakes, hugs, or kisses. Although resisting that urge might seem out of the norm, maybe just throwing a shaka could be a smart way to prevent your healthy excursion from turning into an unhealthy one. 

Also, friendly or unfriendly paddle battles are usually unnecessary and pretty annoying to begin with, so avoiding those as well could also be worth considering. Plus, the fact that most people’s schedules are now wide open should allow for us to be less aggressive in the water. Unless they’re a nurse, doctor, or medical professional on their break, then they should be able to get any wave they want...right?

Another thing to be mindful of during this time of quarantine and even after this blows over, would be the gross act of spitting in the lineup. We’ve all seen it and many of us may be prone to do so ourselves, but really, it’s just a nasty habit we all should make a point to avoid. God forbid it would drift over to and make contact with a fellow surfer or bodyboarder. Eww! 

So, after careful consideration, party waves are probably still ok, but only if you have plenty of room. And if there’s one silver lining to this lockdown, it’s that the lineups have been much more roomy.

What are some other ways to steer your board clear of this atrocious flu bug in the lineup? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 


  • harry Timmins

    In reality, at least on Maui, lineups are more crowded than ever. No one is working, no sports such as canoe, football, etc., no school , so everyone is surfing.Surfing is probably the healthiest thing you can do for your body and is super beneficial to the immune system. When I was growing up if I had a cold mom would say, go in the ocean and blow it out. I have never heard of someone catching a cold from someone else in the water and I’ve been surfing 58 years. Aloha

  • Keoni

    This is nothing more than a flu and is not even as deadly as flu season. Inflated deaths by categorizing deaths of causes like cancer and heart disease are being counted as virus deaths. This is all fear-mongering hype.

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