A big question when you're planning a surf trip is – should I pack my surfboards or rent them at my destination?
Advantages to Renting Surfboards:
- Saving $$$. A huge factor in considering whether you want to rent surfboards is considering how long you’re going to be at the surf spot. Board bag fees can be super expensive, so it’s likely that you can save money renting a surfboard at your surf destination. But if you’re staying at a place for 2 weeks and have to rent a board at $30/day, you might pay for your board bag fees and then some. Try to figure out ahead of time how much it will cost to rent a surfboard where you are headed and compare that to the cost of traveling with your board.
- Surfboard Damage. Surfing at a new spot can be a challenge because when you’re unfamiliar with the wave, lots of stuff can happen to your surfboard. Your surfboard scrapes the reef. You ding it on the rocks getting out. That crazy sponger causes you to wipe out into someone else, who now has some very unfriendly words for you. All these can result in damage to your board. When you rent a board, they’re usually beat up already so that even if you damage it, you won’t have to pay much, if anything. If you’re down in Central America with your brand new Al Merrick and ding it on your first wave because you didn’t know that there was a huge rock halfway down the line, you won’t be happy. If you rent a surfboard, you don’t have to worry much about what happens to it.
Disadvantages to Renting Surfboards:
- Rental Surfboard Quality. Renting surfboards at a surf shop can be a real crap shoot. Who knows what surfboards they will have available. Size, shape and quality can all be lacking, and you might be stuck renting a surfboard that you really can’t ride on the waves at your surf destination. A lot of surfboards are old, dinged up, weird shapes, and you’re obviously not familiar with them. If you plan to rent a surfboard, you better be ready to ride a totally random surfboard. Good luck with a longboard on that super gnarly barreling reef break...
- Finding a Rental Surfboard. At some surf destinations, renting boards may not even be an option. You have to know whether there is access to rental boards near where you’re staying. You have to find a surf shop, like their boards, and be willing to pay their prices.
- Unflexibility. So let’s say you fly into an awesome surf spot, and by the time you get there, it’s midnight. You are so stoked to wake up at first light the next morning to paddle out while glassy, firing, and not crowded. If you have to rent a board, this is probably impossible. You have to wait until the surf shop opens for the day (wherever it is) and pick out your board. By that time that happens, you might have missed out on the best wave day of your trip, you just never know. And then, what if you have to return your board every night? You might miss out on every early morning and late evening surf sessions.