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What to Pack for your Hawaiian Surf Trip – Surf Apparel

Surfer Posing on a Surfboard wearing SPF Rashguard, Boardshorts and Reef Shoes

When most people think about packing for a Hawaiian surf trip, they think board shorts and bikinis. Hawaii, even though considered a warm and tropical paradise, has a very diverse climate, so you may want to rethink your packing checklist before taking off. Here are some essential items you will need when getting ready for a Hawaiian surf trip.

Boardshorts and Bikinis

Woman surfer cross steping on a longboard while on a surf trip

Surfing in Boardshorts and Bikinis is always more fun!

The best part about surfing in Hawaii is the warm tropical water and air temperature. There is no better feeling than riding a wave while wearing next to nothing. It is important to remember however that Hawaii is a tropical climate and walking around in wet board shorts or bikini bottoms all day can create major problems. One problem is rash in between the legs or buttocks. The humid air makes it hard for things to dry out down there which can create cysts and boils if not cleaned properly. You can also get whats known as “Haole Rot” from not taking care of your skin or properly drying it off with clean towels.

Bring an few extra pair of boardshorts or bottoms to change into after each surf session to keep your skin healthy. For women, please remember to pack surfing appropriate swimsuits. There is nothing more embarrassing than taking a big wipeout and coming up with half your bikini missing.

SPF Rashguard

Surfer wearing a Rash guard, Surf Hat and Reef Shoes

Packing a rash guard is a good idea for any surf trip!

A good longsleeve rashguard is a must when surfing in Hawaii, especially if you are not accustomed to surfing without a wetsuit. Your skin may not be used to laying down on the surfboard giving you a nice rash around your stomach area. Rashguards also help to protect you against the powerful sun. They don’t call this place the tropic of cancer for nothing. Hawaii is located close to the equator making the sun very powerful thus dangerous to those without a nice basecoat. Make sure that you pack a rashguard that has SPF built into the material. We carry a full line of SPF rash guards for sale at our surf shop made from high quality material that are guaranteed to last for many surf trips.

Wetsuit Top / Springsuit

Kid Surfing in Hawaiii wearing a Spring suit and Reef Shoes

Make sure to pack a spring suit for your kids so they don’t get cold while surfing in Hawaii.

Depending on where in Hawaii you go, you might want to bring a wetsuit top or spring suit. It may sound silly since Hawaii is synonymous with warm water surfing but it does get chilly sometimes. You won’t need to pack your winter 4/3 full suit by any means but a nice 1 or 2mm wetsuit top will help keep your core warm and allow you to surf longer, especially if the trade winds start to pick up.

If you are surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, a 2mm spring suit might not be such a bad idea as the water temperatures there can get very low due to deep water upwelling. This is when cool water from deep below is pushed to the surface. Wetsuit tops and spring suits will also offer you some protection should you hit the sharp reep below, softening the blow and acting as a body armor.

Reef Shoes

Sea Urchin and Coral Reef

Reef shoes help to protect your feet from sea urchins and sharp coral

For some surfers, the thought of wearing reef shoes sounds a bit dorky, but in Hawaii it is a brilliant idea. Most Hawaiian surf breaks are rock, reef or coral bottom and contain lots of wana (sea urchins) which are very sharp. Having a good pair of reef shoes will help protect your feet should you accidently kick the reef when you wipeout. Once you understand a surf spot and where all the rocks and shallow areas are, you may opt out of wearing reef shoes.

Please note that even though reef shoes will protect your feet against sharp coral, it is not a good idea to use them for walking on the reef. Coral is very fragile and takes a long time to grow back; an inch a year, so please be respectful and keep your feet off the reef.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Reef Safe Suncreen

Reef safe sunscreen is essential when packing for your next surf trip to Hawaii.

Sunburned bodies are a common site in Hawaii due to the enormous amount of sunlight the islands receive. It is a good idea to pack sunscreen but please beware that not all sunscreens are created equal. Since most of Hawaii is covered with fragile and sensitive coral reef it is important to use only reef safe sunscreen. Chemicals such as oxybenzone, which is found in most sunscreens is harmful to coral reef especially in large doses. If you can not find a reef safe sunscreen to pack before you leave for Hawaii, no worries. Hawaii is a huge advocate of reef safe sunscreens and products can be found just about anywhere on the islands.

Other items to consider packing would be a few extra towels and some physical sun protectors such as sunglasses and hats. We prefer the mesh trucker hats, because they float, so you can where them while surfing!


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