By Jake Howard

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a bummer.

If you’re hitting the streets around Dana Point or San Clemente this holiday season, there are many unique opportunities to find that special something for that special someone, thanks to our area’s rich ocean culture and the creative types who help make it so vibrant.

If you’re going for a big-ticket item such as a new surfboard, I implore you, do not go to Costco. There are innumerable world-class board builders in this immediate area. So, if you’re looking for that hot new custom board to really send the gift-giving over the top, place an order with any one of them; they’d love to have your business.

For the longboard cruiser in your life, Hobie Surfboards, a Dana Point original, continues to produce exquisite boards, as does Dewey Weber Surfboards in San Clemente. For the shortboard shredder, Lost Surfboards and T. Patterson Surfboards both offer great, high-performance designs that have been proven by the world’s best surfers.

And if it’s something a little out of the ordinary, be it a fish or an asymmetrical shape, craftsmen including Donald Brink, Matt Parker, Cole Simler, Ryan Engle, Tyler Warren and the crew at Infinity Surfboards are all ridiculously creative shapers and have a keen understanding that, at the end of the day, riding surfboards should be fun. 

Or dip your toes into the water at Basham’s Factory and Surfshop in San Clemente. The rack of used boards is always well-stocked, and you’re sure to find a diamond in the rough. They also sell all of the blanks, tools and supplies for somebody looking to get into making their own boards. You can even rent space in a shaping bay there.

But enough about surfboards—there’s no shortage of cool, local brands to support—and just because it looks like a surf company doesn’t mean it is a surf company. Beware of corporate impostors.

Born at The Point, the San Onofre Surf Company, is a great example of a label with local roots and passion for our area’s surf community. They’ve got some hip tees, cozy hoodies, hats and more.

Abysse is another cool local company that opened a storefront in San Clemente this year. Founded by Hanalei Reponty-Gudauskas, Pat Gudauskas’s wife, the company prides itself on making all of its products in California with 100% recycled fabrics from ocean waste. Run by women for women, for the ladies on your list, it’s worth walking into the shop.

For the collectors, there are plenty of talented artisans in Dana Point and San Clemente to support. Besides making beautiful, hand-crafted boards, Tyler Warren is also an accomplished artist whose work brightens up any abode.

Or perhaps you might want to catch up with Renaissance man Brian Bent. More than just the guy with the cool, old hot rod and kook box surfboard, the dude can paint.

And if it’s high-grade photography you’re after, luminary lensmen such as Tom Servais and Art Brewer have both been documenting the surf scene for decades and have captured some of the sport’s most iconic images. Both live locally and do a brisk business selling various prints.

Of course, there’s always that somebody who says, “I don’t really want anything,” yet you’re constrained by guilt to get them something, anyway. In such instances, why not pay it forward? There are no shortage of local, ocean-related charities doing a world of good that could benefit from a holiday donation.

The Surfrider Foundation is headquartered right here in San Clemente and stands up for wave-riders around the country. From fighting for the Clean Water Act in the Supreme Court to regular water-quality monitoring, they do a lot.

The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center is helping preserve the past, present and future of surfing. With the world’s most exhaustive supply of surfboards and artifacts, they regularly host community events and timely exhibits, and their doors are always open for a visit. They’ll also be moving into a new space in the Dana Point Harbor as the redevelopment takes place and are looking for funding to help with that endeavor.

And for the sports fan, how about supporting USA Surfing as it gears up for the first-ever appearance of surfing in the Olympic Games in 2020? Headquartered here in San Clemente, the organization is building the Olympic program, and local groms are also benefiting from the development programs they’ve instituted.

I could go on and on with more gift ideas—we haven’t even touched on surf travel yet—but hopefully the above rant is enough to give you some momentum. There are plenty of cool cats in our community who would benefit from your support and patronage this holiday season.

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