Chasing Waves South: Your Ultimate Travel Essentials Guide for a Warm-Water Surf Odyssey

photography by Craig lugsden

Most surfers fit into two camps: you've either booked a trip south for the winter or you are obsessively checking flights, reading spot guides and ripping duolingo. We love what winter brings here in Tofino - off shore winds, less crowds and significant swell - but can you blame us for following the birds south for the winter? Over the past few decades, we've been on a surf trip or two. 

The following is what we have deemed travel essentials for your next warm-water surf trip:

Swim Fins

While not the most space-efficient item in our list, swim fins can be used in a couple of ways.  When your arms get tired from paddling, grab your pair of Yucca's and get back out there for a body surf.  Alternatively, there's likely some sights to see beneath the surface of your choice destination and you can use them to snorkel. 

Storm Tip: bring a carabiner to clip the fins to the outside of your bag to avoid drips and to save space.

Shop Yucca Swim Fins. →

Surf Hat

Essentially, any hat you surf in can be a surf hat.  However, we carry some that are specific to surfing.  Not only do these hats keep the sun off your ears and scalp, but they are made with chin straps, are buoyant and have drainage holes.

Storm Tip: Try not to pencil dive off your board as you may get choked when the hat floats and you don't.

Shop Surf Hats. →


"I'll just get wax when I get there" you might be surprised when it's either hard to find wax, or your choice wax brand isn't available.  Instead, grab a bar before you go!  Just google the water temps for your target destination and month, and buy the wax formulated for the temperature you'll be in.  Even if you plan on renting, it can pay to have a bar of wax to supplement the meager rations of the rental shop.

Storm tip: give a bar, make a friend

Shop Sexwax. →

Reef Boot

Surfing over a reef?  You may also have to walk over exposed, dry reef to get out the back, depending on the spot or tide.  They may not be the most fashionable, but you'll avoid losing a day of surfing due to an open cut on your foot.

Storm Tip: When you jump off your board, try not to enter the water vertically as you may kick the reef.

Shop Xcel 1mm Reefwalker. →


What's worse than dinging your board?  That ding keeping you out of the water.  To avoid this, we like bringing the Solarez "weenie" kit on our travels.  Small enough to fit into your carry-on, comes with a sanding pad for before and after your repair. We like the Epoxy version as it's safe on all types of boards. 

Storm tip: work in the shade, cure in the sun.

Shop Board Repair. →


I know you're trying to ditch the neoprene by flying south, but it could be a good call to leave a mm or two behind.  A wetsuit top can help during those dawn patrol sessions or take the bite out of a stiff off-shore wind. A Rashuard can guard against chafing, but can also protect you against the unrelenting sun.  You can get loose or skin tight versions, some even come with a hood! Whether it's for warmth, sun care or to avoid chafing, we have several options for you. 

Storm Tip: A loose fitting rash guard can work out of the water as a sun shirt for hikes, fishing, etc.

Shop Rashguards. →

Surfer's Journal

When it's mid-day, the wind is up and you're surfed out, you still need something to pass the time.  Crack open the most recent issue of the surfer's journal and mind-surf through the pages.  We also have past issues available at a discount.

Storm Tip: Leave an issue behind at your hostel, favourite cafe or surf shop - you'll always be welcomed back.

Shop the latest issue →

Water Bottle

You may be buying bottled water in your choice location anyways, but why not bring a bottle that'll keep the water cooler for longer.  Bring a Yeti Rambler along to keep your water cool and fresh for hours.  You can also go with the light weight plastic Yonder line. 

Storm Tip: Use a Yeti cooler backpack as your carry-on bag.  It may not be the most practical, but it'll be worth its weight in gold when you arrive.

Shop Drinkware. →

Mineral Sunscreen

You need some sun care that will last you for a solid 2-3 hour session. We like to use a mineral-based (zinc) sunscreen as it lasts, is reef safe, and is less likely to cause breakouts.  It's also easy to apply and because you can see it, you know when to reapply.

Storm tip: make sure you apply some on your lips to avoid one of the top 5 most painful/irritating sunburns known to humankind.

Shop Suncare. →

Explore more of our tried and true Travel Essentials →

We're here to help. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call at 250-725-3344 or send us an email at