Body Boarding and Bodysurfing
According to the movies, in the Old West there was always friction between cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers. A somewhat similar situation exists between surfers and body boarders (and between surfers and stand-up paddleboarders). That's why they generally keep to their own separate areas. Often the body boarders, who lie on their stomachs on shorter boards, stay closer to shore and leave the outside breaks to the board surfers. Or the board surfers may stick to one side of the beach and the body boarders to the other. The truth is, body boarding (often called "boogie boarding," in homage to the first commercial manufacturer of this slick, little, flexible-foam board) is a blast. Most surfers also sometimes carve waves on a body board, no matter how much of a purist they claim to be. Novice body boarders should catch shore-break waves only. Ask lifeguards or locals for the best spots. You'll need a pair of short fins to get out to the bigger waves offshore (not recommended for newbies). As for bodysurfing, just catch a wave and make like Superman going faster than a speeding bullet.
Equipment-rental shacks are located at many beaches and boat harbors, along the highway, and at most resorts. Body-board rental rates are around $12–$15 per day and around $60 per week. Ask the vendor to throw in a pair of fins—some will for no extra charge.
Honolua Surf Company. Surfboards, apparel, gear, and logowear are available at these moderately priced surf shops. There are several locations statewide. Kona Shopping Village, 75-5744 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740. 808/329–1001; www.honoluasurf.com.
Orchidland Surfboards & Surf Shop. This venerable shop—in business more than 40 years—carries a wide variety of surf and other water sports equipment for sale or rent. They stock professional custom surfboards, body boards, and surf apparel. Owner Stan Lawrence, famous for his "Drainpipe" legacy, was probably the last person to surf that famous break before lava flows claimed the Kalapana area (the rubber slippers he left on the beach burned up before he got out of the water). Old photos, surf posters, and memorabilia on the walls add to the nostalgia. Through the shop, he hosts surf contests here and on Oahu, and does the daily surf report for local radio stations. Located in the heart of historic downtown Hilo, this surf shop is as authentic as they get. 262 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, Hawaii, 96720. 808/935–1533; www.orchidlandsurf.com. From $15 body board; $25 surfboard.
Pacific Vibrations. This family-owned surf shop—in business more than 35 years—holds the distinction of being the oldest, smallest surf shop in the world. Even at a compact 400 square feet, this place stocks tons of equipment, surf wear and gear, sunglasses, and GoPro cameras. You can rent a surfboard, stand-up paddleboard, or a body board, but you have to buy or bring your own fins. Located oceanfront in downtown Kailua Town, it is tucked away fronting a vintage cul de sac, and is worth a stop just for the cool Hawaii surf vibe. 75-5702 Likana La., #B, at Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740. 808/329–4140. $15/day, surfboard; $15/hr., paddleboard; $5/day, body board.