If you have a surfer in your life, then getting them something surf related for a gift is a surefire way to please them. Most surfers are rabid about their favorite pastime, and there has never been a better time for interesting and fun surf-related gadgets and gifts. Given the pandemic this year, surfing has seen a huge number of new beginners.
Of course, if your surfer is asking for a specific board or wetsuit, then that might be outside of the scope of this article (or, check out our guide to the best surf wetsuits). But if you’re looking for interesting ideas, our roundup of the best gifts for surfers will steer you in the right direction!
This list has been updated and revised for the 2021 holiday season! Of course, this list is also perfect for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and anything else!
There are a huge array of technical and tide surf watches available. Some of them are extremely tech-oriented, and some are simple tide watches. It all depends on your budget, aesthetic, and a sense of what the person you’re buying for might enjoy. Make no mistake though, these watches make great gifts!
Really? The Apple Watch? Yep. No longer looked down upon in the lineup, the Apple Watch is now on the wrists of many surfers due to its amazing activity tracking capabilities. It is now water-resistant enough to withstand an average session, and with new apps such as Dawn Patrol you can track your waves, distance paddled, calories burned, and log sessions. With Surfline Sessions, you can even replay all your waves that were caught by the Surfline cameras.
Some versions of the Apple watch also support for LTE cellular connectivity, so you can receive and send texts and calls in the water. Now, I know what you might be thinking…however some people may really need such functionality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends who have been on call for work but can’t surf because they need to be by their phone. With the Apple Watch they can get those work calls in the water and leave immediately if duty calls. Those with small children or elderly relatives that are afraid to miss emergency texts or calls can also benefit from this.
If you want cellular connectivity ensure that you are buying the right version – look for “cellular” or “LTE”.
I recommend a rubber strap – the cloth material ones do not dry quickly and end up retaining odors.
Apple Watch Ultra
The newest kid on the Apple block is the Apple Watch Ultra. This watch is set to compete with Garmin type watches – it’s much bigger than previous Apple watches, has enhanced waterproof ratings and a very long battery life (36 hours). According to Apple, the Ultra is made for “high impact water sports” which obviously should include surfing.
The Ultra also includes advanced metrics for health stats, a flat screen and a titanium case.
Unfortuantely the only drawback to the Ultra is the large size – it may not look so great on smaller wrists. But other than that, the Ultra is looking to take the action sports world by storm.
Garmin Instinct Solar – Surf Edition
If you’re not a fan of the Apple watch or simply want something slightly different, the Garmin Instinct is an extremely popular smartwatch choice. Garmin watches are top of the line, featuring extensive features that track activity, heart rate, and an array of highly technical stats that the Apple watch doesn’t quite master. Garmin watches target a niche of people who want hyperaccurate and very detailed data. But the best part is that these watches are solar powered – which is an amazing feature for those who spend time outdoors or who travel extensively.
Garmin watches work with iPhones and Android phones, which is a great feature for those who don’t have an iPhone and would like a more versatile watch than the Rip Curl Search.
The cool part is that these watches can link to Surfline Sessions, which is one of my favorite surf technologies. Garmin makes a surf-specific solar watch in two models – the Cloudbreak and the Pipeline. However, Surfline Sessions also works with these models of Garmin watch:
Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2
The Rip Curl Search GPS is a great gift for any surfer, and it has been updated for better performance AND it has compatibility with Surfline Sessions! Surfline Sessions allows you to see all your waves recorded on the Surfline cams. This surf watch was specifically designed for surfers in mind, and provides the ability to track your session data in terms of waves caught, distance paddled, distance surfed, and top speeds. After a session the waves can be plotted on a map of the surf spot. Social media read, the session data can then be posted on Facebook or Instagram for a fun post surf report. Because of its GPS capability, you will always have the most accurate tide and time data on your watch, meaning this is one of the most accurate tide watches on the market as well.
The new updated watch also supports other sports as well: Snowboarders, Stand Up Paddle enthusiasts, kiteboarders, and boogie boarders can also use this watch, so it’s not strictly for prone paddle surfers.
I have a lot of fun using this watch to track my sessions and seeing all my stats tabulated.
Do you know a surfer who is always talking about their fear of sharks? Maybe you have a family member you want to give a little extra protection to. Check out the Sharkbanz 2 magnetic shark repellent. This small band that you wear on your ankle has been shown to deter many sharks in quite a few live tests. Although we here at SurfingHandbook cannot guarantee its 100% effectiveness, it is certainly better than nothing if sharks are something that are on your mind. We also have a review written by someone who actually uses the Sharkbanz.
Revbalance Swell 2.0 Balance Board Trainer
Looking to train when there are no waves or it’s just too cold and windy out? The Revbalance Swell 2.0 is an insanely popular balance board and paddle trainer that will help surfers cross-train for balance and coordination while out of the water. This is one of the most well-reviewed and well designed balance boards that has ever hit the market. It has a cushy “Durasoft” traction deck that allows you to use the board with or without shoes, an extended length roller that allows you to use the board both crossways and long-ways, and removable magnetic skid stops that enable you to adjust the difficulty level. For the surfer who wants to stay fit and sharp between swells, this is the absolute perfect gift.
Rheos Sunglasses makes shades specifically for water enthusiasts – these quality sunglasses not only look great but they also float – meaning they are perfect for those who are often out on the water whether it be surfing, stand up paddling, kayaking, fishing, sailing, or just lounging in the pool. We just received a pair to test out and the first 24 hours wearing them has been nice to say the least – they look sharp and the lens clarity is excellent. And because they are designed to be light enough to float, they feel like a feather when they’re on your head. Stay tuned for our full review in the coming days, but for now check out the Rheos line over at their website.
GoPro Hero 11
The latest and greatest from the masters at GoPro, the GoPro Hero 11 is an amazingly innovative little camera. Perfectly waterproof, this is an excellent camera to capture surf shots of yourself or your friends. And it’s not just for water sports, the GoPro Hero 11 shoots anything from the family pet to snowboarding to weddings to skateboarding to traveling. The Hero 11 updates almost every area of the GoPro camera, with a front and back touch screen, 5.3k resolution at 60fps, 8x slow motion at 2.7k resolution, and 30% more battery life. It’s also waterproof to 33 feet with a new processor called the GP2, which they have dubbed a “system on a chip”. This means it has extremely fast performance compared to previous models.
One of the coolest additions to this camera is the Hypersmooth 4.0 digital stabilization, which can render shaky hands perfectly smooth–it’s pretty amazing to see in action. It also performs excellently in low light conditions, improving on the color range and subtleties, making for much more professional-looking shots. As a professional videographer, I think this camera is finally one that can be used for professional shoots.
- Revolutionary Processor: Faster. Smoother. Better. The powerful new GP2 engine changes the game—snappy performance, responsive touch controls and double the frame rate for amazingly smooth footage. Designed specifically for the demanding nature of the GoPro, the GP2 “system on a chip” is by far our fastest ever.
- High-Res Photos plus Videos, High Frame Rate: Step up to the sharpest-shooting GoPro ever. Upgraded to incredible 23MP photos and 5.3K video resolution at 60fps, HERO10 offers double the frame rate for amazingly smooth motion. Plus, there’s 8x slo-mo at 2.7K and you can pause videos and grab 15.8MP still photos from 5.3K video that look amazing.
- Unbelievable Image Quality: Shoot with fine detail, realistic textures and stunning contrast, even in low light. Images look their best thanks to a new water-shedding hydrophobic lens cover that repels water while helping to eliminate lens flare and other artifacts.
- HyperSmooth 4.0: HyperSmooth has never been smoother, and it’s easy to dial in the best stabilization at all times. Plus, get even better low-light performance and horizon leveling with a higher tilt limit, so your footage looks perfectly straight when you want it.
- Fast, Reliable Connectivity: Super easy, super fast. Transferring photos and videos from your cloud-connected GoPro to your phone is simple and versatile, with your choice of effortless wireless upload via the Quik app or a lightning-fast wired connection via USB. There’s also unlimited cloud storage with hassle-free auto upload. Just plug in your camera when connected to your home Wi-Fi and the camera does the rest.
Open Roads Goods Surf Kit
The Open Roads Goods Surf Kit is a trendy case that can hold surf wax, sunscreen, a wax comb, and has a stash pocket for other personal items. It also comes in several other prints and colors other than the one pictured here.
This is an excellent idea for travelers or those who just like nice ways to organize their supplies. The kit comes completely filled with all the essentials – simply choose Sex Wax or Sticky Bumps wax and you’re all set!
They also have a slightly larger version here
Surf Ears 3.0
I recently reviewed the Surf Ears 3.0 earplugs and I have to say, they have become one of my favorite pieces of gear. I didn’t realize how sensitive my ears were getting in the water until I started surfing with earplugs. Not only do they help prevent water from getting stuck in my ears, but they also help prevent the onset of Surfer’s Ear, which can require surgery down the road. They also improve my confidence in the surf as I didn’t realize how much I was dreading the pressure pop of duckdiving larger waves that would sometimes happen (you can blow an eardrum this way).
If you’re buying these as a gift, they come with 3 different size earbuds so you won’t have to worry about picking a size. They also have a youth size called Junior 2.0 (separate item). These are sturdy, work well, and are comfortable.
BeachBox Portable Shower
The BeachBox portable shower is a space-friendly and useful addition to a surf kit. With a neoprene sleeve to help insulate and keep warm water warm, the BeachBox portable shower allows 4-5 minutes of continuous water and 6 spray nozzle settings from mist to jet. This is an invaluable way to help rinse off after a session. And the uses don't stop at surfing - this is great for many outdoor activities!
Fix Manufacturing Surf Cloak Keychain
Unfortunately Leatherman discontinued our favorite surf tool, the Thruster. However Fix Manufacturing has created a very simple, small, and useful tool for surfers that might be even more portable.
This petite keychain features a Philips head screwdriver, a flat head screwdriver, and a hex key that will work with all fin systems. It also has a handy bottle opener for post surf beers. Best of all, this little thing is very affordable! As of this writing it is about $15.
If you have a friend who is in need of a small tool for a friendly budget, this is the perfect gadget for any surfer.
The Hitch Safe has been one of my own personal favorite purchases. It’s a combination lock drawer that fits into the hitch on the back of your car or truck and allows you to store keys, money, and anything else. But its main use is for keys – and it’s not just for surfing. I’ve used my Hitch Safe to stash my keys when I go snowboarding, hiking, and even out to bars and restaurants. If you have at least a 2″ hitch this is something that all action sports enthusiasts can use, not just surfers. NOTE: if you’re buying this for a Toyota Tacoma 2005 – current and Tundra 2007- current you have to buy these pin adapters.
The Fin Puller
This is by far one of my favorite finds of 2020. The Fin Puller makes life SO MUCH EASIER when it comes to taking fins in and out. You really should have seen me trying to get my FCS 2 fins into my last board. I ended up using a beach towel and a hammer. Yeah, bad idea, but I couldn’t get the damn things in. This is a piece of gear that most surfers will eventually have in their gear box, so be the hero and buy it for your favorite surfer now before they even know what it is!
The Fin Puller makes quick work of taking fins in and out of surfboards – essential for FCS2 fins that are notoriously difficult to get in and out. It also helps remove stuck fins much easier and prevents damage to the board. It’s also made of recycled plastic!
HangAir Wetsuit Drying Hanger
Having a dry wetsuit before a surf is a luxury that we don’t always get to experience. This is especially true on cold winter days when putting on a damp wetsuit is not all that inviting. The HangAir Wetsuit Drying Hanger is a clever device that encourages airflow through the suit to ensure that it dries out quickly. This hanger also helps prevent wetsuits from starting to smell due to constantly being damp. And it’s not just for wetsuits! You can use this on snowboard gear, diving suits, and anything else you can think of as well!
GoPro Grill Mount
Does your favorite surfer already have a GoPro? Do they struggle to get good surf shots? Give them the GoPro Grill Mount, one of the most innovative GoPro mounts created. Paddling with a GoPro is almost impossible, and the risk of dropping it is high. And because surfing is so dynamic, there are very few places to actually put the camera on your body. However, holding it in your mouth actually works extremely well! The Grill Mount was designed to be extremely comfortable and safe – and even molds to your teeth! This is the perfect gift for someone looking to capture the perfect barrel shot.
Surf Grass Mat
If you’re a surfer you know that it’s a luxury to change in and out of your wetsuit in freshly cut green grass. It’s clean and keeps your feet and suit free of dirt and sand. However, this is a rare luxury. UNLESS you have the Surf Grass Mat, which is basically a small patch of artificial turf that allows you to have your own private lawn to change on wherever you go. I really like having one of these – they’re fun and unique. Plus, with its stitched edges and velcro closure, this is a bit more nice and gift-worthy than simply cutting a square at the Home Depot. This makes a perfect gift for any surfer.
Slowtide Changing Ponchos
The Cadillac of changing ponchos, Slowtide ponchos are super warm, good looking, and useful. I have used both the extra warm ponchos and the quick dry ponchos. They are both excellent – I use the extra warm one in colder months, and the quick dry version in the warmer months. These have changed my surfing life – I’m no longer cringing at the thought of getting in and out of my suit on a cold or windy day. Plus, these ponchos are great to wear for the quick drive home.
Open Roads Goods Changing Poncho
Wetsuits these days are so good that surfers go out in all sorts of extreme conditions. However, getting in and out of the wetsuit is a different story. Early morning dawn patrol and late evening sunset sessions often mean changing in a cold parking lot. Changing ponchos are a perfect way to stay reasonably warm while you get in and out of your wetsuit. These can be a game-changer and makes everything that much more comfortable.
Changing mats are very helpful when it comes to changing out of a wet wetsuit. You simply stand in the middle and peel of your suit, then cinch the mat up to make a waterproof carrying bag keeping all the saltwater and sand off your car or truck. This is a great and useful gift that most surfers would use but don’t have.
This is another item I got this year that I wish I had gotten much sooner. I had always intended to showcase my favorite board (the mini simmons I had shaped myself), but I just never got around to it. This year I finally installed the rack in my room and I really love it.
Surfboards are all works of art, and many surfers I know have at least one board they want to display. This is one of those gifts that people might not know they want until they get it!
Surf Books – Gifts For Surfers
Bad Karma – The True Story of a Mexico Trip from Hell
The newest surf book release (published in December 2019), this is a hugely popular true story of a surf trip gone wrong. Down in mainland Mexico the main character gets pulled into the seamy underbelly of the Mexican drug cartel world.
With photos from the author and great writing, Bad Karma is a crowd-pleaser for even non-surfing folks; the sure sign of a great book.
“In the summer of 1978, twenty-one-year-old Paul Wilson jumps at the chance to join two local icons on a dream surf trip to mainland Mexico, unaware their ultimate destination lies in the heart of drug cartel country. Having no earthly idea of where he’ll get the money to pay his share, and determined to prove his mettle, he does the only thing he can think of: He robs a supermarket. And, if karma didn’t already have enough reason to doom the trip, he soon learns one of his companions is a convicted killer on the run, and the other an unscrupulous cad. Mishap and misfortune rule the days, and mere survival takes precedence over surfing.”
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is an autobiographical look at a life spent surfing. It’s an excellent work that follows the adventures and tales of the author, William Finnegan, from his childhood through his adult life. It’s one of the most well written and poignant surfing books that I’ve ever read, reading like both and adventure tale as well as a study on American boyhoood and growing up through the fifties and sixties. The author, a regular writer for publications such as the New Yorker, weaves together stories about both his life in and out of the surf, making Barbarian Days a well written and compelling page turner.
The Wave by Susan Casey was published a few years ago, but I wanted to add it to this list anyway because of how much I liked it. I found it to be thoroughly engrossing and interesting. Author Susan Casey takes a look at the science of rogue waves in the open ocean; what makes them form, and how they can be responsible for the sinking of entire container ships in a single blow. She also takes a look at the sport of big wave riding, with a special focus on Laird Hamilton and his exploration of big waves in Hawaii. I ripped through this book quite quickly as I found the science behind the big waves quite fascinating, and also found the stories of Laird Hamilton’s feats jaw dropping.
Surf Is Where You Find It
Written by one of the most revered names in surfing history, Surf Is Where You Find It by Gerry Lopez is an autobiographical collection of stories revolving around the author’s time surfing Hawaii and around the globe. Lopez is a gifted writer, and hearing his take on surfing Pipeline and other spots in the sport’s early days is riveting. Not only are his stories rich with surfing history, but they also make some deep and insightful connections to life lessons that Lopez has learned over the years. I quite enjoyed this book as well as the many rich, full color photos that it contains.
The History Of Surfing
The History Of Surfing is a full color, beautiful coffee table type book that is packed full of interesting stories, narratives, and photos from surfing’s past; from its inception to present day. You can’t go wrong with this – I actually got this as a gift myself and I love having it out in my room, and page through it now and then. It’s also a magnet for my friends who come over. It’s over 500 pages and chock full of 250 rare photographs. Matt Warshaw is synonymous with “surf history” and he has done an incredible amount of research into all the nooks and crannies of surf history.
Random Surf Stuff
Shark Attack Salt n Pepper Set
Okay. This shark attack salt and pepper set is hilarious and right up many surfers alley. If your surfer has a good sense of humor this salt and pepper set is sure to be a hit.
Magnetically holds together and makes an amazing decoration.
Lego Surf Rescue Set
This is awesome for kids who like surfing – Legos are always a hit and this Lego Surf Rescue set features a surfer, jetski and rider, and a shark. Perfect for staging a shark attack and dramatic rescue. I remember loving Legos as a kid, and if your boy or girl is the same they’ll dig this set. Recommended for kids 5-12.
Surf Trip World Map
The “Surf Trip World Map” is a pretty sweet map from Awesome Maps featuring a colorfully illustrated world map with premier surf spots labeled on pretty much every inch of coastline.
This is a great gift for a surfer of any age. I love staring at maps and thinking about visiting far flung destinations, and this gives a bit more of a surfing edge to those daydreams. They also have a corresponding “Snow Map” for those who are more mountain-inclined.
NEW – The folks at Awesome Maps have created this map in several formats, including a beach towel, a hanging canvas, and even a card game! The towel and hanging canvas are my favorites right now, although the classic surf trip map is still extremely popular.
Don’t forget the dog this Christmas! This is a super fun Dino Surfer dog toy made by Fringe Studio. There’s not much to really say about it except it’s got the crinkly stuff in it as well as a squeaker. This is an awesome gift for any surfer’s good boy or girl.