Around the World in 8 Surf Museums

WE BRITS FIRST GOT OUR TASTE FOR SURFING BACK IN 1890 AND OUR LOVE OF THE SPORT HAS BOOMED EVER SINCE. BUT FOR A COMPLETE HISTORY LESSON IN SOME THE SURF WORLD’S GREATEST LEGENDS, WHY NOT TRAVEL THE WORLD AND TRY THESE SURF MUSEUMS FOR SIZE?
1. MUSEUM OF BRITISH SURFING, BRAUNTON

On our own British soil, Devon’s Museum of British Surfing is the UK’s number one place to swot up on your surf. Since the museum opened in 2012, it’s added boards of all shapes, sizes and eras to its collection. The latest exhibition, ‘The First Wave’ coincides with the 125th anniversary of British surfing. Watch out for upcoming vintage surf swaps, films and more.

 

2. FLORIDA SURF MUSEUM

Florida Surf Museum is located off the golden Cocoa Beach, so it’s no surprise that Kelly Slater is the worshipped champion here. So once you’ve seen the statue dedicated to the athlete, a half-hour saunter takes you to the Ron Jon Watersports shop where this tiny museum is housed. Check out their exhibition ‘Locals Only’ – a look at the ‘garage shaper’ innovation and how the Cali-dominated surf scene reached the East Coast. Find plenty on surf legends such as Dick Catri and Pat O’Hare too.

3. TEXAS SURF MUSEUM, CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS

The Lone Star State sounds like an unlikely location for a surf museum, but there’s a solid surf fan base here, and this quirky place dedicated to the Hawaiian surfing heritage is testament to that. It’s a decade old and is packed with surf photography, and boards. And to mark the 50th anniversary of Endless Summer, catch the iconic movie in their projection theatre before it moves to the Smithsonian.

4. INTERNATIONAL SURFING MUSEUM, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA

George Freeth was among the first people to ride the US waves in 1907. So you’ll find tributes to him and other Hawaiian-born legends like Duke Kahanamoku in this art-deco museum. Aside from sculptures, brochures and memorabilia check out The Surfing Walk of Fame on the nearby Jack’s Surfboards. It’s not attached to the museum but is claimed to be the only one in the world.

5. THE SURFING HERITAGE AND CULTURE CENTRE, CALIFORNIA

This centre is a great place where they wholeheartedly promote surfing in every way, from oral histories and photos to surf art, cinematography and surfing memorabillia. They aim to share all aspects of the story of surfing, of the past and present and even looking towards the future. There's a great sense of community with the Centre being a hub for surfers and SHACC members, and they are super friendly to everyone that visits.

6. SURF WORLD GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA

Aside from artwork, photography and Aussie surf artifacts, this interactive museum houses an impressive collection of over 100 different surfboards dating back to the early 20th Century, the largest collection of surfboards in Australia. If you can't get to Australia, why not take a virtual tour of the museum on their website, and swot up on Oz’s biggest surf legends.

7. SURFWORLD MUSEUM TORQUAY, AUSTRALIA

For the most modern and impressive of surf museums, this one in Australia’s surfing capital comes up trumps. Not only is it home to a Surfing Hall of Fame and SurfWorld shaping bay (where you can watch surfboards being made), they also house an abundance of historical artifacts, a theatre and educational tours.

8. JEFFREYS BAY SURF MUSEUM, EASTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa’s Eastern Cape is renowned for its world-class surf championships, so it’s only right they have a museum that tells the story of surfboard evolution from heavy wooden boards to lighter foam and glass fibre boards, and the stories of local champions and surf pioneers. Tie in your visit with the J-Bay Open to see these local heroes in the flesh.