Great Gifts for Beach BumsS

Sand. Water. Sunshine. Everybody loves the beach. And anyone who has ever had a good day at the beach will love these gifts.

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

1. Handplanes $50 to $120
You may not know this but the purest way to surf a wave is on your belly. And it's pretty easy. These little handplanes—basically surfboards for your hands—changed my life. Enjoy Handplanes makes fast little ones from recycled surfboards, and Danny Hess makes models better suited for bigger waves. Here's an article I wrote about handplanes on The Scuttlefish, my ocean site. If you're feeling handy, you can buy a DIY kit from Cyrus at Korduroy.tv. (Cyrus's surf movie, Stoked or Broke, is also an excellent buy.) [EnjoyHandPlanes.com; Korduroy.tv]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

2. Teak Mat $55
Here's a nice little trick: Changing in and out of a wetsuit on a teak mat instead of in a tupperware bin or on the asphalt of a beachside parking lot feels like you're changing on the deck of a ship. And the rot resistant wooden slats allow sand to rinse off very easily. This is the nicest one I've tried. [Amazon.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

3. Vintage Cousteau Books $50
I collect these. Voraciously. The 40-year-old science is a bit outdated (They talk of pods of millions of dolphins and the mystery of why the cetaceans squeak), but the images, art, and adventure bound in each volume make them treasures. [Ebay.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

4. Anzfer Farms Lamps and Vases $120
Best friends Jon and Joe scour the western seaboard for driftwood, and refine the raw pieces into lamps and vases. Each one is unique. [Etsy.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

5. VW Vanagon by GoWesty $25,000 and up
The legendary VW van, refurbished and augmented with sturdier parts, engines, accessories and engines. I'd love a Synchro with AWD and a Subaru engine. Used, of course, but with long warranties. Expensive for a car that is 20 years old, but until someone else makes a van with a stove, fridge, shower and bed inside that fits in a standard parking spot, you've really got no choice for coastal camp adventuring. [Go Westy]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

6. Life on Blu-ray $36.49
The follow up to Planet Earth, funded by Discovery Networks and the BBC. Do not get the one narrated by Oprah. Get the one narrated by David Attenborough and his crisp british accent. Amazon.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

7. Calypso Model $550
Cousteau transformed a minesweeper into a machine of science. It was also his oceanic home. This is a very nice model of the Calypso, including helicopter. [MyHobbyStore.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

8. Wegener Bluegill $750+
An alaia is a thin, traditional surfboard design that is really tough to ride unless you're a) very good and b) only hitting mellow, peeling waves. The bluegill is easier to paddle on and gives you some of that alaia feel with a more manageable ride. [MolluskSurfShop.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

9. GoPro Hero HD Camera $179 to $300
Just like in my snow guide, I'll include a Go Pro Hero here. They do HD, like many, but they come in waterproof housings good to 100 feet—which is a useful margin of pressure resistance to have when waves come crashing down on your head. GoPro Hero cameras and their surf mounts were used at the big wave surfing contest Mavericks and the mounts never broke loose. I love these cameras. [GoProCamera.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

10. Waterproof Cameras $220, discounted
My favorite ocean going camera comes from Panasonic. It has the best image quality and a decent depth rating of 33 feet. Roughly. [Lumix/Amazon]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

11. Patagonia Wetsuit $550
The water seems colder than usual this winter. That's why I'm extra curious to try out a Patagonia wetsuit, lined with wool fibers. Wool's nonporous structure lets it stay stink free and able to insulate while wet. I'd get an R3 with a hood, which is just right for the water I frequent. [Patagonia.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

12. Speedo ~$25
Comedic for Americans, stylish by European standards, and Hydrodynamic as your butt after you've waxed it. Hypothetically. [Amazon]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

13. Target up & up Sport Sunscreen $10 for two bottles
When Consumer Reports reviewed all sorts of sunscreen, from high to low end, they found Target's house sunscreen performed the best. Insane, I know. And cheap. And a clever present for those who you'd prefer to not end up with alligator skin at the end of a decade of tanning. [Target.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

14. Finis Swimsense $200
A motion sensing watch that logs your swims and recognizes different kinds of strokes. It can upload distance, laps, pace, strokes, and calories burned to a PC. [Finsinc.com]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

15. Shark Shield Prices Vary
The shark shield emits an electrical field which is supposed to annoy sharks by overstimulating them through their Ampullae of Lorenzini (an electronic sense organ) when they come within a few meters. Sounds like a great present, except shark attacks are too rare to really worry about, at all. And the device may not even work well enough to stop a charging shark, anyhow. Probably worth passing on and having your beach bum just get over their irrational fear. $600 [Sharkshield.com; Popular Science]

Great Gifts for Beach Bums

16. Otterbox cases $50
Water, jolt and scratch resistant-ifying a gadget before someone takes it to the beach could save them a lot in repair and replacement bills. Just saying. [OtterBox.com]


Great Gifts for Beach Bums

17. Vibram Five Finger Flow Shoes $70-100
They look weird but they strengthen foot muscles and give you more ability to work on balance. The flow model has siped bottoms that are ideal for grip on wet surfaces ("sipes" are the little cuts in snow tires that allow them to stick to slick surfaces) and are neoprene topped for warmth and quick drying. I'd love to wear these hopping rocks between tide pools, or even while surfing. [Vibram]


The burning sensation that comes from holiday shopping isn't from rubbing against the unwashed masses at malls: It's trying to pick out presents for everybody on your list. Gizmodo's daily gift guides and best gadgets list are the all-natural, non-smelly cure.