Whether you're seeking a trusted shaper to repair a dinged board or a forgiving longboard to learn on, there's a local surf shop in SF for every skill level. There are also all kinds of swells surrounding the city: Prone to frigid temperatures and powerful rip currents, Ocean Beach is a surf spot for the truly hardcore—the ones who’ve come in from a full session before you’ve had your morning coffee. Luckily, the comparatively mellow swells of Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and Bolinas are all less than an hour's drive away, making for the perfect day trip (even on days when the waves are flat).
Find the right surf shop for you
Opened by husband-wife team John McCambridge and Johanna St. Clair in 2005, this artsy-cool surf shop sells boards, gear, clothes and sundries for men, women and kids. The bi-level space lends a hint of whimsy, decked out with colorful area rugs, globe paper lanterns and tree-houses on the mezzanine level by local designer Jay Nelson. Inside, you'll find hundreds of boards by shapers like Christenson, Campbell Brothers, Tanner and Gary Hanel, as well as wetsuits, gear and beach accessories such as surf zines, sunscreen and books. The couple also sells their own line of in-house clothing, which includes tees, button-downs, board shorts, easy dresses and sweats. Don't miss the room full of used boards in back.
After fifteen years on Sloat Boulevard, Aqua relocated to the northern side of the Sunset in 2015, just down the street from Outerlands and Trouble Coffee. Though the new space lacks the expansive backyard of its previous location, it’s recognizable by its salvaged wood walls and checkerboard tile floors. You’ll find a wider variety of Ocean Beach-ready clothing, including hats, tees, flannel button-downs and lightweight down puffers, all displayed against staggered aqua and red shelving. Despite the move, certain Sloat Street hallmarks remain: Aqua is still staffed by a small team of hardcore local surfers and carries a wide selection of new and used boards from Bic, Surftech and Boardworks. The store offers 24-hour rentals for wetsuits and boards.
This narrow, blue-hued repair shop is helmed by Alex and Sarah Martins, a former professional surfer from Brazil and a former surf instructor, respectively. Together, they meticulously color-match and repair fiberglass, epoxy and wood surfboards. Alex is a master of his craft, specializing in ding repair. He accepts a limited number of boards each week, which keeps wait times to a minimum (two to three weeks, usually). The business is environmentally conscious, using VOC-free resin and repurposed supplies when possible. Much of the Martins' business comes from word-of-mouth reviews, for good reason—all their repairs are guaranteed.
Bob Wise started surfing the bracing waters of Ocean Beach in the ‘60s and launched his own surf shop on Wawona Street in ‘68, intending to shape and glass the boards of his buddies. Today, Wise claims the distinction of owning San Francisco's oldest surf shop, though he has since expanded and relocated to the other side of the park. The Cabrillo Street store sprawls across three stories and overlooks Ocean Beach. The well-appointed stock includes surfboards by Surftech, Firewire, Torq, Lost Surfboards and many more. The spot is particularly known for its range of wetsuits from the likes of O'Neill, Rip Curl, Body Glove and Xcel, as well as an impressive array of boots, hoods, gloves and rash guards. The generous size of the store means there's room for extras that you won't find at nearby surf shops, like GoPro waterproof cameras and surfboard travel bags.
This minuscule board shop is often obscured by the line for the similarly tiny Devil's Teeth Bakery next door. The store sells new boards, repairs dings and offers one-on-one board shaping lessons for particularly hands-on surfers. Up front, you'll find a short row of boards, wax and surf and skate accessories, as well as the friendly shop dog. In back, owner James Mitchell is known for crafting custom boards to exacting specifications.
Dan and Robin Moreno opened this friendly Pacifica surf shop in 1985, where colorful boards hang from the ceiling. Conveniently located just off Linda Mar Beach, Sonlight is an excellent source for experienced wave carvers and beginners alike. Though the Morenos retired in 2015, they passed down the business to their daughter and son-in-law, Dana and Jeremiah, keeping the family tradition alive. The small space is crowded but orderly, packed with an extensive selection of surfboards by Arrow, Harbour, Linden and more. The racks include wetsuits, accessories (fins, leashes, ding repair kits) and clothing by Rip Curl, Quicksilver and Patagonia. Wetsuits, surfboards, body boards and booties are available for rent, and those with kids should inquire about the wetsuit trade-in program. For serious dings, Jeremiah provides speedy, affordable repairs.
This hip surf and skate shop near Bolinas peddles Equator Coffee alongside boarding gear, clothing and accessories. In 2005, owners Nate McCarthy and Will Hutchinson took over an empty auto warehouse next door, tacking an additional 10,000 square feet onto their formerly modest 600-square-foot store. (For those more accustomed to small-scale mom-and-pop operations, this surf shop's layout feels downright luxurious—there's even a full-size skate ramp in back.) In one room, you'll find row upon row of surfboards from brands like Firewire, T. Patterson and Stewart; another bears wetsuits of all sizes and thicknesses. The original storefront, a former gas station, contains a selection of basics including button-downs, henleys, chinos and sweats by RCVA, O'Neill and more. Grab a coffee and kick back on the sunny front patio.
Founded by childhood friends Shawn Rhodes and Greg Savin, Nor-Cal has been a Pacifica fixture for over 25 years. In particular, the spot is known for its inexpensive surfboard, paddle board, body board and wetsuit rentals, conveniently offered in full- or half-day rates (from just $12 for wetsuits and $14 for surfboards). The store's four instructors are experienced and patient, providing individualized attention in group and private lessons. You’ll be able to pick out the store’s loyal customers around town, distinguished by their Nor-Cal-branded tees and hoodies.
Danny Hess’ surfboards, created from salvaged wood and recycled foam, double as works of art. (Really: It's not uncommon for non-surfers to purchase his wares.) Hess is one of the few shapers around crafting surfboards from wood, sourcing redwood, fir and cedar for tail parts and fir, poplar and walnut for the decks. He works from a sawdust-covered workshop within Woodshop, a 2,200-square-foot collective that also houses three fellow local craftsman: artist Jeff Canham, chair maker Josh Duthie and furniture designer Luke Bartels. Check out Hess' website for newly completed designs or make an appointment to commission a custom board.
Once you get over the incongruous atmosphere of the Stonestown Galleria (a crowded mall two miles from the beach), Ocean Beach Outpost delivers the goods. The store is helmed by fellow surfers Hans Geiszler and Kyle Parsons. Geiszler is the founder of Japhy, a line of retro-style surf trunks that have a built-in waterproof stuff-sack, while Parsons launched Indosole, a line of sustainable shoes whose soles are made from discarded tires. The pair sell an admirable line-up of 25 beachy, Bay Area indie brands, including Michael Junod surfboards, Bureo skateboards, Sunski shades and clothing by local lines like San Franpsycho and Establish SF.