Planning for a surf vacation is an exhilarating feeling. It’s probably taken a ton of research, planning, and decision-making to get to this point.
Choosing where to go and when to go is a feat of its own. After all the choices and now that you’ve settled into an upcoming surf trip, the packing comes next.
Packing can be very daunting because it’s vital that you bring everything you need, not under-pack, not overpack, and not forget the essentials. Stressful, right?
Don’t worry, leave the surf trip packing list to us and just focus on gathering the items.
Most people wait until the last minute to pack but not you this time! We’re going to help you plan ahead so you don’t have to stress at the last second.
Instead, you can relax and think about how excited you are for your surfing trip.
This list is for you, no matter what type of packer you are. If you’re a last-minute packer or an organized and ahead of schedule kind of packer, this list will help you make sure you’ve gathered all the essentials.
While in a foreign location, you never know if you’ll be able to purchase what you need in a pinch. It’s better to make sure you’ve packed everything you need. You got this!
The Ultimate Surf Trip Packing List
Keep reading for the list of must-have items and other items to consider bringing on your surfing trip of a lifetime:
1. Surfboard or Surfboards
Some travelers choose not to bring any larger gear like their surfboards and instead rent one. But there is nothing like surfing your own board. Most avid surfers bring their boards because they know what works for them.
Most high-level surfers bring 2 to 4 surfboards with them so they have options for all surfing conditions and in case something happens to one of their boards.
If you have a board you love or are comfortable with, you should bring it on your trip because trying to rent and learn a new board while also surfing new waves can be difficult and eats up a lot of time.
You also never know if there will be places to rent or purchase gear unless you look it up ahead of time, and some surfers visit remote locations which may not have surf shops and places to find the equipment you need.
It’s best to bring your own board so you can get the most out of your trip. Depending on your surfing level and the location you’re going to, consider bringing anywhere between 1 to 4 boards.
It’s best if your boards are of different styles or lengths so that you’re prepared for all possible surfing conditions. Don’t forget that airlines will charge you for bringing your surfboard.
2. Surfboard bag
If you’re traveling with your surfboard, a bag to cover it is vital. Taking your surfboard on a plane without putting it in a sock or bag will lead to scratches, dings, and your board will take a beating. If you are flying, you will most likely want a travel bag with wheels to make hauling it around in the airport that much easier.
Having a bag for your surfboard is an absolute must. Even if you’re not taking it on a plane, you’ll still want to travel with it in a bag while you get to your surfing destination to protect it. Bags are also great for storing your surfboard when you’re not using it.
The more padding a bag has, the better. There are all kinds of options out there, but if you’re a frequent surf traveler, you should go with one that is heavy-duty and provides a lot of padding and support.
Another pro tip is to put your wet suit and other light gear inside the bag which will provide extra padding during your surfboard’s trip to its destination.
This will also save space in your personal luggage. Win-win. Some surfboard bags may also fit more than one surfboard, which is something to consider if you’re bringing multiple boards on your trip.
3. Extra Pair of Surfboard Fins and Keys
Of course, you’ll need surfboard fins if you’re bringing your surfboard but bringing an extra pair is always a good idea in case your fins get damaged.
Fins take up very little space, so it’s best to take precautions and bring an extra set. You should also take the fins off your board during your travels so they don’t break or get dinged.
Make sure you also have your fin keys so you can easily get your fins on and off.
4. Comfortable Surf Suit
Another item that might be obvious but is necessary to mention is a surf suit that you will feel comfortable in.
A surfing trip usually means a lot of swimming and time spent in the water so bring a few surf suits that are not going to fall off while you are surfing.
If you don’t feel comfortable in the water, you are not going to surf your best. It is important to feel comfortable and not like you are going to fall out of your bathing suit.
5. Wet Suit
You more likely than not will want or need a wet suit during your surfing trip, unless you are in a tropical place. It’s essential to research the area ahead of time to determine if you need one and, if so, which thickness level.
Not having a wet suit or not having a thick enough wet suit can ruin your entire trip because if you’re super cold, you won’t be able to last in the water for very long and therefore you won’t have a good time.
Even if you’re going to a tropical location, you may still need a light wet suit. If you don’t think you need one it’s good to bring one anyway because it could be cold in the mornings or the weather could change.
There is no reason not to pack a wet suit if you’re bringing your surfboard because it’ll easily fit inside your board bag and will act as extra padding.
6. Rash Guard
A rash guard shirt is very important to protect your skin against the water and your board. You may not need it when you first arrive because your skin won’t be irritated yet, but after a while of rubbing against your skin, you may start to feel a rash coming on.
If you’re wearing a wet suit or long sleeve surf suit you won’t need a rash guard so keep this in mind, but it’s good to bring these types of shirts on your trip anyway.
They’ll protect your skin from getting irritated while hiking, biking, or doing other outdoor activities. A rash guard-specific shirt is better than a regular shirt because it dries faster and is made for this kind of use.
7. Travel Towel
Standard towels are very bulky and take up way too much room when packing, but there are tons of lightweight and compact towels on the market for bringing on vacations and packing in a bag. These towels are fast drying, absorbent, compact, and made of microfiber, so they barely take up any space and pack well.
They’re perfect for bringing on your trip, so you don’t have to worry about air drying, buying, or finding a towel to use somewhere.
8. Bag for Gear
A backpack or tote bag is a must for any travel. It can be used as a personal bag on your flight and then you can use it to carry your items to the beach like your towel, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.
It’s hard to forget this item since personal items will need to be packed for the plane anyway like headphones, a book, wallet, phone, chargers, and more.
Wax won’t take up too much space in your bag so it’s a great item to pack. This wax is a cult favorite and will stick to the board and create sticky bumps. Wax is important because it gives you a grip when you’re surfing.
Make sure to research the water temperature before your trip to ensure you have the correct type of wax for the best possible experience.
Make sure you bring your surfboard leash because it’ll save you from potentially endangering other surfers, swimming long distances chasing after your board, and from your board getting damaged.
Especially when you’re in a new area you don’t know as well, it’s best to be safe and use a leash to avoid anything from happening. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra leash with you in case your first one breaks. An extra leash takes up barely any space, so why not.
11. Board Repair Kit
A ding is terrible enough, but not having a way to fix it is worse. A board repair kit takes up minimal space in your bags and can save the day.
Patching a ding will protect your board in the long run and make you feel better about the situation.
12. Zinc Sunscreen Face Stick
If you are going on a surf trip, you are going to be spending a lot of time in the water and in the sun. You want to make sure you bring plenty of zinc for your face to protect it from sun damage. Make sure you get something that is waterproof, reef safe and will last the whole time you are out in the water.
13. Reef Safe Sunscreen
You want to make sure you protect your skin while you are protecting the ocean. Read your sunscreen and make sure that it is safe for the ocean, if not invest in some good quality reef sunscreen like this one. If you love the oceans you want to make sure you are protecting them while you are playing in them.
14. Polarized Sunglasses
You only get one pair of eyes, so make sure you protect them. If you haven’t already, invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses. They will not only keep from your eyes sunburning, but you also want get a headache from squinting
15. Hat for Surfing
I used to make fun of all the old surfers in the water that wore these, then one day I realized it not only protects your face from the sun, but it also helps to shade your eyes so you can see the waves better. Once you wear one, you will never go back. Trust me!
16. Water bottle
Nothing like having a nice long session in the water and coming out and not having anything to drink. Invest in a nice water bottle that will keep your water cold while you are out in the waves. They are easy to hide on the beach and so refreshing to have nearby when you are done ripping waves.
17. First aid kit
You never know what could happen when you are out surfing. There are sea urchins, reefs, surf fins, and other surfers. We all hope that nothing will happen when we are out catching waves, but when it does it is always good to be prepared. This first aid kit is small is easy enough to fit in your day bag.
Did you even go on a surf vacation if don’t have photos or videos to show your friends and family? This GoPro will help you document your trip in and out of the water.
19. Soft Racks
If you are planning on renting a car on your surf vacation and driving around and finding other surf breaks, you are going to want to bring some soft racks that you can throw on your rental car. This will make your life much easier carrying your boards to the next surf break.
Dry bags are great if you have anything you don’t want getting wet, like a cell phone. Yes, cell phones are all waterproof these days, but from my experience, it’s always better to keep them dry. If you plan on doing any boat trips to breaks on your surf trip a dry bag will come in handy.
21. Cooler Backpack
Nothing better than getting out of a sick session and having a cooler of ice-cold beers waiting for you on the beach. This cooler backpack is awesome because you can still carry your board down to the beach as well as your cooler : )
Now that you have an upcoming surf trip planned and a packing list for the ultimate surfing extravaganza, you’re ready for a good time.
Remember to research the surf destination ahead of time to be prepared for the weather, water conditions, and other local information you may need.
Plan and pack thoroughly and have a good time. Trying foreign waves is an exhilarating experience. Surfs up!
Do you have a special item that you never forget to add to your surf trip packing list? Say so in the comments below