How to shop for the surfers in your life
By Jake Howard
A holiday confession, as I write this—I’ve done zero Christmas shopping. I don’t think the deck of Uno cards I impulsively grabbed in the checkout line the other day counts.
Caught in a flurried panic this morning about the holiday shopping crunch—and what I was going to write here this week—some thoughts for those of you, like me, who’ve yet to venture out into the holiday hordes.
I’m a big believer in shopping local and supporting small businesses all the time, but this time of year can really make or break some folks. Rather than funding Jeff Bezos’ next space mission, help keep our mom-and-pop shops afloat. There are so many small surf businesses in our area that could really use the support.
For starters, the area’s core surf shops are the backbone of our surf communities here in Dana Point and San Clemente. Help ’em out.
Whether it’s new clothes, wetsuits or whatever the surfy object of desire may be, we’re lucky to have a lot of great shops that employ a lot of great people. Swing into your favorite shop and see what they’ve got going on.
You may find that perfect gift, or you may score the ultimate deal; you’ll never know before you go. Oh, and wax makes amazing stocking stuffers—and surfers can never have too much of it.
The same thing goes for surfboards. If you’re a parent keen on ordering that killer custom shape for your young frother, now’s the time. The board won’t be ready in time for Christmas, but an order form under the tree is a gift that keeps on giving (think fresh new board just in time for summer).
But if you want a board you can put a bow on, check the racks in the local shops. There’s no shortage of beautiful, locally made boards out there.
Some people are just plain hard to shop for. My younger brother lives in New Zealand, and figuring out what to get him and then shipping it to the other side of the world is a royal pain in the posterior.
Instead, for the past few years, I’ve made donations to charities in his name. It’s better than sending him something he may not want, and in the end, it’s something we both feel good about.
If you’re keen to support local charities, there are a bunch of outstanding organizations in the area doing amazing work.
A few groups to look into are Surfers Healing, which works with autistic kids; USA Surfing, which is the governing body of America’s Olympic program; the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center, which preserves and shares the sport’s rich history; and, of course, Surfrider Foundation.
Along that same vein, the Dana Point Surf Club and San Clemente Board Riders are the area’s two big surf clubs. Both are dedicated to bringing their respective surf communities together and having a positive impact.
Family-oriented and fun, if it’s something you may be interested in supporting or getting involved in, hit them up. Both clubs have active Instagram accounts and can be contacted directly.
And for those on a budget, you’re golden. I’m a big fan of USED Surf. It has an amazing inventory of boards, and its customer service is top-shelf. It’s worth stopping by if you’re in the market for a first surfboard for somebody or a board that won’t break the bank.
While you’re in San Clemente, the Rip Curl Trestles Surf Outlet is the go-to for fantastic wetsuit deals.
If and when you shop around the streets of Dana Point and San Clemente, keep in mind, there are things surfers will always use: wax, wax remover, leashes, fins, ding repair kits, sunscreen—and the list goes on.
Even if you’re not on the hunt for the big-ticket items like a board or wetsuit, there are plenty of options to stoke out the surfers in your life.
Jake Howard is a local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. A former editor at Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, today he writes for a number of publications, including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.