Endless miles of coastline dance along the salty waves while rays of sunshine sparkle along the ocean’s surface, permeating through the teal waters as nature lovers mingle on the shores: This is the gorgeous sight greeting California surfers hitting the beach.
Surf culture is an undeniable part of the California coastal lifestyle, which seeps into every aspect of our lives—from how we spend our free time to how we dress and style our hair. While this laid-back, beach-loving spirit is prevalent throughout the Golden State, there are a few standout businesses that truly embody the lifestyle and take it to the next level.
Here are seven top surf shops that are constantly innovating and exposing new generations to the values that are distinctly Californian.
Los Angeles Area Surf Shops
Hobie Surf Shop
Located along the Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, Hobie Surf Shop has helped to pioneer the California surf industry since opening in 1954. The business initially served as an entertaining pastime for surfer and entrepreneur Hobie Alter, but his hobby of crafting balsa wood surfboards for his friends ended up leading to a revolution. Merely four years after Alter opened the store, the rising cost of wood provided the impetus to create the same product using an entirely new method: With his team, Alter perfected the polyurethane foam mold and the polyester resin coating. This innovation ultimately changed the manufacturing process of surfboards for good and encouraged the acceptance of the surfing lifestyle in California.
Today, the boards are still hand-shaped, just like they were back in the day. Choose from the dozen-plus surfboard models available, and pick up any other gear you may need before you leave. While the original location in Dana Point is worth checking out, the company also has locations in Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente.
Situated on Seal Beach’s Main Street, just off the Pacific Coast Highway, Harbour Surfboards is making history. The surfer’s paradise is home to the oldest surfboard manufacturing shop in the world—and it is still operating daily. Now celebrating 60 years in business, Harbour Surfboards sells all the items necessary to embody the surfing lifestyle both on and off the board.
Peruse the nearly two dozen surfboard styles to find the one that speaks to you, and grab a leash and fins to meet your needs. Once you’ve made a decision, walk 10 minutes to the beach so you can catch some waves and break in your board.
Infinity Surfboards resides along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, too, right beside Dana Cove. The first board crafted by Infinity was brought to life in 1970 using the customary balsa wood, but the company has since created its own carbon “infinFLEX” technology, resulting in light yet durable boards. When you visit the shop on Del Prado Avenue, take a look at the other outdoor goods before hitting the waves; Infinity carries skateboards, apparel, and surf art along with a wide selection of longboards and shortboards.
San Francisco Bay Area Surf Shops
Mollusk Surf Shop
Nestled in the Sunset District of San Francisco, Mollusk Surf Shop brings together surfing, art, music, and film to create an immersive experience that celebrates California artists and innovators. Head to the stylish shop to catch a concert, check out the work of local artisans, and of course, find the perfect board and surf gear. Featuring hundreds of surfboard variations, wetsuits, towels, apparel, and more, Mollusk Surf Shop has everything you need to get started.
San Diego Area surf shops
Hansen Surfboards is the largest surf shop in San Diego County and is responsible for creating some of the most popular surfboard models, including the 50-50, Classic, Superlight, and Competitor—all of which remain in production today. Before settling in Encinitas and opening his own store, avid outdoorsman Don Hansen apprenticed under the legendary Jack O’Neill and worked for other industry heavyweights such as Hobie Alter and Hap Jacobs. Check out his creations by stopping by the only Hansen Surfboards location and browsing through the various surfboard styles. You can even pick up a wetsuit, accessories, footwear, apparel, and surf gear before hitting the swells.
Central Coast surf shops
Buell is not like most California surf shops. Instead of crafting numerous surfboards, Buell focuses on designing and creating high-quality wetsuits that conform to the body, providing flexibility and warmth so the surfing experience is much more satisfying.
While California’s temperate weather makes it an ideal surfing destination year-round, the water temperatures range from cool to downright frigid, making wetsuits necessary for surfing in the Pacific Ocean—especially in the fall and winter. Buell offers several types of wetsuits, but all are known for being easy to get on and off while still sealing tightly so the heat stays in and the water stays out. Head to the Santa Cruz store to browse through the wetsuits and apparel, rent boards for the day, or even sign up for a surf lesson.
Sawyer Land + Sea Supply
The stunning Sawyer Land + Sea Supply is an inviting, inclusive, and highly curated surf shop in Santa Cruz. The welcoming environment makes every visitor feel at ease; even the most novice surf enthusiasts are bound to feel accepted into the culture that is so fundamental to the California lifestyle. Step inside the immaculate boutique to shop for surfboards, hammocks, packs, apparel, and lifestyle goods so you have everything you need for enjoying outdoor recreation and soaking in the sun. You’ll be ready to hit the beach in no time.