As proof of San Francisco’s depth of culture, the city can even boast of having serious surf street cred. Surfing legend Jack O’Neill pioneered the city’s surfing scene back in the early 1950s. In those pre-wetsuit days, O’Neill rode a balsa wood board, braving the frigid waters and the notoriously fickle waves at Ocean Beach’s Kelly’s Cove, then later opened Mollusk Surf Shop, one of the world’s first surf shops, just off the Great Highway.
A few short blocks from the beach, Mollusk Surf Shop is a very different kind of surf shop from O’Neill’s original store, down the coastline in Santa Cruz. It serves as a bit of a hangout for the San Francisco surfing community, and, of course, sells boards—everything from longboards from Marina del Rey’s Anderson surfboards to barely four-foot-long paipos, a wooden bodyboard by Wegener Surf of Encinitas. Shop for wetsuits and vintage-style board shorts sewn right in San Francisco, as well as arty T-shirts that pay tribute to the local surf scene, whales, and even harvest moons.
Indeed, Mollusk isn’t only about the sport of surfing, but also about the art of surfing: The shop has books, a gallery space for art shows, and live music events (don’t miss the second-floor space that looks like a weird wooden submarine). The shop has also expanded into Southern California, with locations in Silver Lake and Venice Beach.