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Keeping surf spots secret a challenge in social media age

A surfer rides a wave in Oceanside, June 29, 2016.
Alison St John
A surfer rides a wave in Oceanside, June 29, 2016.

Veteran surfers know that keeping the best beaches and surf spots secret is a vital part of surfing etiquette. More and more, though, Instagram and other social media users are violating that code by posting the locations. Now some of the best kept surfing secret spots are getting swamped, and generating the ire of long-time surfers.

"'The first rule of Fight Club was you don't talk about Fight Club,' and that's sort of how it goes with photographing certain waves and certain surf spots. You just don't shoot those photos, or if you shoot them, you don't name them," journalist Adam Elder, said.

The San Diego-based writer joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about his reporting about the social media violation of surfing culture for The New York Times, and what he sees for the future of hidden surf spots.


"You can still find uncrowded waves in the middle of the city, even San Diego. I've had those experiences and they're great. Honestly, those are the moments that tend to stick with you. They're definitely out there, but there's always new pictures being taken all the time," Elder said. "That's one of the things about Instagram is that there's a momentum to it where a spot is photographed and it draws other people that spot to stand on the beach and photograph it, and that draws other people. And you can imagine what sort of effect that has day after day on a place."