I know, I know, to call our fair city "Hotlanta" is just sooo 2001 – but with the temps in the 90s everyday, I. Just. Don't. Care. It's hot. And I don't like it. I want to get away. Far away… to where there's cool waters, cool breezes, and mega-cool surfing. Just head south, my fair Atlantans. Your surfing mecca awaits.
Before we all lived and died by our GPSes, TomToms and Garmins, the crafty surfers behind the world's largest surf shop had a great marketing idea. Billboards. Lots and lots of billboards. Those Ron Jon Surf Shop billboards down I-95 and beyond – started decades ago, and have been one of those wonderfully quirky remnants of years gone by.
241 MILES … 221 MILES … 140 MILES … 128 MILES … 88 MILES .. Welcome to Ron Jon Surf Shop Cocoa Beach! We made it – my sun-fried brain is cooling down already. Probably just the air conditioning, but let's not ruin the moment.
As soon as you pull up to this behemoth, yes I said behemoth, Ron Jon Surf Shop looks like Disney's version of a beach getaway. For really, really large cartoon characters.
Once inside, it's not just the air conditioning that will woo you. Think Kelly Slater meets Don Ho. All hopped up on Mountain Dew. With two stories and 52,000 square feet filled floor to ceiling with merchandise, you'll find everything you need to live the beach lifestyle. I seriously wanted to just set up a little hammock in the corner and sip from a tiki glass with a little umbrella … but I did not think management would care to much for that.
With more than two acres, this world-famous shop is filled with swimwear, sportswear and beach gear. At the Pro Shop, you'll find surfboards, skateboards, paddle boards and more – for the beginner or pro. Or, if your main goal is to just look good on the beach (and really, who doesn't?) Ron Jon Surf Shop has all the latest styles in swimwear for the entire family. And there's always the latest ‘Hot Item' to check out. During our visit, the ‘Hot Item' was board shorts. Or as I like to call them, a bikini's best friend.
With whatever you buy, you'll get a cool Ron Jon Surf Shop sticker free in your shopping bag. Oh, and a little fun trivia about the Ron Jon sticker – they've shown up everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the Mir Space Station. And, though not required, I must personally insist that you pick up an official "One of a Kind" Ron Jon t-shirt. They're sooo much cooler than a Hard Rock Café t-shirt.
But, as they say, that's not all! After you've achieved the perfect surf look, the Cocoa Beach location has much more to offer, from beach gear rentals (boards, bikes, chairs, umbrellas) to surf lessons at the Ron Jon Surf School by Craig Carroll. And by the way, Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach is open 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You just KNOW there's a need for sunscreen at 3 a.m. on December 25th. Don't question it, we're in the surf mecca now.
There are eight locations in all: Long Beach Island, New Jersey (the original), Myrtle Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West, Fort Myers and Panama City Beach (a perfect weekend getaway from Atlanta), and of course, Cocoa Beach.
So … how did all this surfing madness start?
Ron Jon Surf Shop History 101:
Ron Jon Surf Shop was founded in 1959 on the New Jersey shore when a bright young man named Ron DiMenna was just discovering the sport of surfing with fiberglass surfboards. His pastime soon became a passion and homemade surfboards would no longer do. When DiMenna's father heard that his son wanted his own custom surfboard from California, he suggested, "Buy three, sell two at a profit, then yours will be free." His Dad was right and Ron Jon Surf Shop was born.
The original Ron Jon Surf Shop opened in Long Beach Island, New Jersey in 1961. DiMenna sold surfboards out of that tiny Jersey shore shop and supplied former customers with surfboards to open their own surf shops on the East Coast. When he headed to Florida two years later and opened the "One of a Kind" Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, he sold even more.
Today, Ron Jon Surf Shop has grown into a world famous surfing mecca. The original Ron Jon Surf Shop on Long Beach Island, N.J. is now a four-level surf emporium filled with a colossal selection of active lifestyle apparel and board sports equipment. It even features one of the world's largest surfboards (more than 24 feet in length). Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Fla. is a whole water world of eternal summer fun, encompassing more than two acres, overflowing with more surf wear, sportswear and beach gear than is available in any other single venue. The addition of stores in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West, Fort Myers and Panama City Beach, Fla. and Myrtle Beach, S.C. brings the Ron Jon surfing mystique to loyal followers in those areas.
The Ron Jon Surf Shop logo and name has become recognized around the globe for more than 50 years with only minor revisions. It has been spotted on the space station Mir 200 miles above the earth, and has purportedly embraced one of the long slender legs of the Eiffel Tower. And every day, it is seen on vehicles ranging from '65 Ramblers to '10 hybrids.
The company has established several licensing agreements resulting in Ron Jon Surf Shop store locations in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and JFK International airports, Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos. The surf-themed Ron JonSM Cape Caribe Resort in Cape Canaveral, Fla., which includes a company owned Ron Jon Surf Grill restaurant, and the Ron Jon Surf School by Craig Carroll in Cocoa Beach are also extensions of the brand.
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