This past Friday Will Sileo had an article “Epic Dilemmas: Bring A Surfboard Traveling or Find One There?” featured on The Inertia.
Will’s article was very well done and a great reference for any surfer who will be traveling with the hope to catch a few good waves. The article breaks down the author’s Pros and Cons regarding; 1) Bringing your board(s) with you, 2) Buying a board, or 3) Renting a board.
The author brought up some great suggestions referencing a trip to Spain, one that I had never thought of was that FCS fin system rules Europe. So, when traveling without a board but you brought your favorite fins will you even be able to use them?
My advice is inline with Will Sileo for the most part, however my opinion of traveling to Hawaii (Kauai specifically) varies from the authors experience in Spain greatly. I have never been to Spain, so I am taking Will’s word and comparing the experience to a surfer’s journey to Kauai.
I agree with Sileo’s conclusion if you are traveling for serious surf the best option is not to rent, either bring your board (assuming it is the right board), or better yet have a local shaper make you a board that will be ready upon your arrival.
Renting a board
A good tip for the serious traveling surfer thinking about renting a board – Call ahead of time and see if someone carries the board, brand, or specific shape you are looking for. This may not be an option when traveling somewhere with a language barrier however as they say, “closed mouths don’t get fed.” Find a shop and give them a call or email with your inquiry.
Sileo listed a couple Cons that included, cannot dawn patrol (due to shop opening hours), paying for damage, and paying hourly rates on rentals. These pitfalls can be avoided on Kauai with a little planning. For example, if you are staying here on Kauai for a week and think you may only surf half of the time, it could very well be more cost effective to pay the weekly rental rate over the daily (or worse yet hourly). Plus, you may find that with a board constantly available you can sneak in the extra dawn or dusk session.
I rent a fiberglass board for $30 a day and $170 for 7 days, you end up saving $40 from the daily rate and can hit the water whenever you want. Ask the rental shop if they provide roof racks for your rental car. Most shops like Scotty’s will provide soft top roof racks with the rental fee.
With regards to paying for damage on rented equipment there are a few things to think about. Does the shop have a rental protection plan? If they, do it is usually an extra $3-$5 dollars a day. Might be a waste of your money however if something goes wrong could save you in the long run. Most damage to a board happens outside of the water. Seasoned surfers care for any board like it was their own and proper protocol functions on a subconscious level. A couple bonus tips or thoughts, does your accommodation have a safe place for you to store the board overnight? Are you familiar with how to transport the board? For example, if you are used to putting your board in the back of your van at home and here on Kauai you will need to strap it on top of a sedan, ask the shop if you are unsure. Over tightening straps can lead to a damaged board.
Buying a used board on Kauai is not a difficult process and can be a very pleasant experience. There are a few consignment shops, and the craigslist sporting section has hundreds of used boards for sale. A healthy portion of these boards are made for Hawaii or specific Kauai locations. People here are very honest with equipment conditions and easy to arrange meeting with for inspection/purchase.
One of Will’s cons with buying a used board was what to do with the board when you are done? The last thing anyone wants to see is another wave storm for sale $5 under the store price. Do everyone a favor, if you buy a wave storm to use during your trip when you are pau – give it away. Do not throw the board away, find a kid who would be stoked to add it to their body board quiver and be happy passing it on. I wish we had a number on the amount of body boards and soft top surf boards that hit the landfill each year.
Sileo makes this point that you can put a board up for sale on craigslist as well in his article. If you are selling a fiberglass board or one with a little value left, set the price to sell, and be aware of your timing. Note that if you lead with “leaving the Island on this date” you may get a bunch of calls the day before with low ball offers.
You can call up some of the smaller surf or consignment shops and see if they will take the board off your hands or would be willing to sell on consignment. Same is true if you have a friend on island, ask them if they have the space to store it and sell it for you. Make sure to show your friend some love.
How important is surfing on your trip? How important is the equipment to me when I go surfing? Plan according to how you answer these questions. I guarantee you will have a blast while on Kauai both in and out of the water!
“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”