Bucket lists are stupid, because all they really do is set you up for failure. When someone tells me about all the adventurous things they have on their bucket list, I eventually start to imagine them old and gray, lying on their death bed clutching a crinkled up sheet of paper with only a handful of the items checked off. They are not satisfied or fulfilled. They are bitter. However, since many people I know have some type of running list of cool shit they’d like to accomplish before they die, I figured I’d give it a whirl and compile a list of ten things every surfer must do before they meet their maker. If you surf and you kick the bucket before completing this list, don’t blame me – I’ll be too busy agonizing over my own unfulfilled surfing life.
1. Visit Hawaii
The Hawaiian islands are to surfers what Mecca is to followers of Islam. As such, a pilgrimage to this holy land should be a requirement for every surfer. I’m not saying you have to surf Pipeline or anything. Just bearing witness to the epicenter of surf history and culture is enough.
2. Watch The Endless Summer
In 1966, Bruce Brown created what would eventually become one of the most influential surf films of all time. The grainy quality and cheesy narration still strike a chord with surfers today and continue to encourage surf travel and exploration.
3. Go on a Surf Trip
Whether it’s a three week boat trip to the Mentawais or an overnight camping excursion just a few hours from your house, going on a surf trip is a vital part of the surfing experience and a rite of passage for surfers everywhere.
4. Ride a Single Fin Surfboard
Retro shapes are so hot right now, but that’s not why you need to ride a single fin. Having a connection and appreciation for the early legends of surfing who defined what style was and expanded the horizons of the sport while riding single fins – that is why you need to ride one.
5. Learn How to Body Surf
I’m not talking about “fins and a hand-plane” body surfing either, I mean real body surfing. Just you and the wave. This is as intimate with the ocean as a surfer can get.
6. Get a Custom Board from a Local Shaper
Everyone hates pop-outs and with good reason. Support your local shaper, learn about surf design, and get a board made just for you. Nothing quite compares to the excitement of hearing the words, “Your board is ready,” from your shaper.
7. Shape Your Own Board
Were you paying attention when your local shaper made you that magic board? Good, now it’s your turn. Even if you only spend an afternoon mutilating foam in your garage and never create a seaworthy design, you will at least develop a strong respect for what surfboard shapers do for a living.
8. Join an Ocean-Minded NPO
While saving the environment has become en vogue these days, it remains a serious and necessary undertaking. As surfers, we have our pick of ocean-minded, non-profit organizations whose primary purpose is to preserve our beaches and oceans. Put your time, money, or both behind one of them.
9. Learn Proper Surf Etiquette
Nothing is worse than a self-described “lifelong surfer” who doesn’t seem to grasp the nuances of proper surf etiquette. If you take the time to learn how to surf, make sure you also take the time to learn how to do it the right way.
10. Teach Someone Else How to Surf
I know, the lineups are crowded enough already. But isn’t part of being a surfer the passing along of wave-riding stoke to somebody else? What if nobody had taken the time to teach you how to surf? We owe it to the art of surfing to share the simple joy that gliding across water can bring.