As it turns out, the ratings did not differ too much. They are all quite good for their very own reasons. Which shop works best for you, really comes down to
- what sort of board you are after
- how cashed up you are at the time of purchase (boards can be quite pricy…) and also
- what type of shopper you are e.g. prefer lots of choice over personalised service.
Here is a bit of a lowdown of the shops where we get our toys from…
180 Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach
Dripping Wet on Campbell Parade is like the Supré of surfshops. Lots of stuff in there, super crowded and would not recommend it if you have claustrophobic tendencies. It’s a popular place amongst backpackers as you can get insane deals like a beginner’s board like a mal including bag and leash for $350 which is in some cases cheaper than getting a second-hand board from any of the other shops. They are probably not the best boards but they’ll do the job for your first attempts in the surf. It’s also good for a second board. My favourite board at the moment is a Xanadu short board but for Bondi onshore slop in summer a fish is great. I did not want to spend a fortune though on another board, so I opted for a dripping wet “home brand” fish, which is just perfect for Bondi.
Dripping Wet is not the place where you would pick your high performance board but you definitely can score a good deal.
They maybe two different surf shops next to each other, but I think it’s the same owner, same staff and they stock very similar stuff. RipCurl is my sentimental favourite just because I bought my very first board there and it was the only surfshop in Bondi back in the days. They have quite a lot of boards to choose from and stock most of the big brands. The staff knows what they are talking about and they give great advice on specs for your board. I’ve never felt like they are selling me stuff just to make their commission. They’ll take their time if you are in for a new board. Most of the guys surf locally and know what you need for the conditions around here. On the flipside, they tend to be overpriced and you won’t score anywhere near as good deals as you would at Dripping Wet.
RipCurl/Bondi Surf&Co is definitely not like Supre, it’s more like your little favourite boutique where you have faith that they choose the outfit that looks awesome on you.
40 Bronte Road, Bondi Junction
Claudia says: I’m having troubles describing that one. Well, it definitely has the most boards. You find everything there – from big name brands to your local shaper. If you know what you are looking for, chances that you find what you need are quite big. I guess they are also good for some inspiration and just browsing through the latest shapes that are available. You probably don’t find super cheap deals like at Dripping Wet. What you might find though is a board from a local shaper at a decent price if you don’t want to fork out big money for the well known brands.
I’ve had mixed experiences there. Sometimes I left simply overwhelmed by the choice available and could not make up my mind. But then I did buy my last board there which was perfect for me. Having said that, I knew the guy who worked there from the surf. So he knew exactly what board would work for me.
If I had to compare SurfCulture to a clothes shop, a department store like Myer would probably describe it best: Lots of choice which can be good but also a pain if you are bad with decision making.
Anna says: I’ve never actually shopped at Dripping Wet or Ripcurl / Bondi Surf Co. but I have forked out for a fair few boards from Surfculture.
I reckon the best thing about this store is the huge number of second hand boards they stock. I’m a massive fan of the second hand board, I think I’ve bought about 5 from Surfculture and each time I’ve been stoked.
I reckon it’s good to try heaps of different boards and if you’re like me and tend to go through them, paying a few hundred bucks less for something still in very good nick is a relief and variety is the spice of life right. Cheaper boards equals more boards and over time you can work out what kind of board you really like, rather than surfing the same old thing. Change is good.
The guys in the shop know their boards and can pretty much decipher surfing girl speak too , ‘I want something not too foamy, not too long, not too narrow, easy to duckdive, easy to turn … and pretty’. Also, if you hate your vintage purchase I think they let you take it back for exchange … plus you get free wax. Win.
Visit a Shaper
The board I’m surfing now is the best board I’ve ever had and it’s custom shaped. It’s amazing and I swear that I fall off less, turn better, never nose dive on steep waves, paddle better and can duckdive anything. It’s perfect and totally backs up my ‘leave it to the experts’ philosophy.
Luckily for me the shaper who made it (AH) has seen me surf heaps and knew exactly what to do, although I did provide slightly OTT instructions regarding my pink spray … we all like pretty things.
Anyway if you find a shaper you want to go to and they havn’t seen you surf, just tell them honestly what you surf like, where you usually surf and vaguely what you’re looking for. I think they’ll deliver something decent. Being the experts.
Shapers are usually about $100 bucks cheaper than the big name shop boards, but really when you think about the effort put into hand shaping a board … I’d be happy to pay more.
A good shaper in the area is AH. He’s a lovely bloke, non intimidating, easy to talk to and good at working out exactly what you need.
There are heaps of other ‘surfshops’ around. E.g. Roxy, Billabong and Surfection in Bondi, well I would not call them surfshops necessarily. Billabong has a few boards and Surfection does not even stock any I think. So if you are after an actual board or any other sort of stuff that helps you in the water rather than just looking like a surfer out of the water, don’t bother.