Heading to a Surf Retreat? Here’s What You Should Pack!

Surfboard? Check. Bathing suit and rashguard? Check and check.

Think you’re ready for your first surf retreat? Your readiness actually comes from your packing list.

Beyond your board and your willingness to tumble off it, there’s a list of items every surfer needs to make your first surf camp one of the best weekends of your life.

What’s on it? Don’t leave home until you’ve packed these five California surf camp essentials.


Are you ready to paddle out in the California sun? Not without your SPF.

Sunscreen is a must because you can get burnt even in overcast conditions and in the water. Even when you are half a meter underwater, you’re still privy to 40 percent of the sun’s rays.

Plus, cool or underwater conditions hide the burn, so you could get seriously burnt if you’re not careful.

Bring a sunscreen that offers 50 SPF for the ultimate protection against UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, you’ll bring something waterproof. We also recommend bringing a dedicated face sunscreen (mineral version do the trick) as well as sunscreen for your lips.


A RinseKit is a surfer’s best friend. These portable showers rinse off the day’s sweat as well as salt, dirt, and sand.

Why a rinse kit over a bucket of water? RinseKit is a real shower – with pressure. It does far more to get rid of the grime and leave you feeling clean that standing under a tap.


Protect your ears from water but keep an ear out for potential dangers by bringing a pair of earplugs designed for surfers.

We always recommend earplugs to surfers to prevent surfers’ ear. Cold wind, water, and long-term exposure can result in a constricted ear canal that traps water. You don’t want water in your ear -it leads to infections and can even progressively cause deafness.

A pair of soft silicone earplugs will do the trick. Get two pairs – one to leave in your car and one to bring to the beach – so you never have to go without.


Never miss a break with the right tide watch. A tide watch shares tide data within your wristwatch that is up-to-date and complete with information like:

  • Wave height
  • Water temperatures
  • Wave period
  • Wind speed
  • Wind direction

High-end watches now have GPS and WiFi that allow real-time access.


Bringing your own board? Always carry it in a bag.

Your surfboard is more fragile than you may realize, and you should have a bag whether you drive here from San Diego or fly here from New York. A travel or day bag will protect your board from dings, nicks, breaks, fading, cracks, and scratches.

Even leaving your surfboard out in the hot southern California sun can cause delamination on the deck, which can wreck your board if you’re not careful.


Forgetting your sunscreen, surf watch, earplugs, or day bag could turn you epic surf retreat weekend into an epic fail. Without these, you can wreck your body, miss your waves, and ruin your board in one fell swoop.

Do you have your kit but still need a surf camp to bring it to? Check out our three and five-day surf retreats.