Beach Toys for Boys

BY Kevin C. O Donovan

Hey guys over here. You know that feeling you had when you were 10 when you were craving that hot new surfboard? It never went away did it? Guess what? It never will.

What that means is with memories of your carefree summer days at the beach fading into fall and the holidays fast approaching — along with your family friends and the distinct probability of a trip to the mall for presents — it’s time to prepare for next summer’s days of sun and fun on the beach.

To that end we found 10 cool beach toys for boys that will more than satisfy your insatiable lifelong yearning for new sources of adrenaline fun and excitement. If you still feel the need for speed literally and figuratively speaking you came to the right place.

Looking for a fun way to work on your tan while embracing your competitive side without breaking a sweat? Try bocce at the beach. No longer the sport of aging Italian men with cigars competitive bocce leagues are popping up all over the country. Although traditionally played on crushed seashells or short grass the beach environment provides a cool new twist on the ancient sport. All you need is a relatively uncrowded stretch of beautiful beach — say oh Wrightsville Beach’s strand at low tide. A regulation bocce court measures 8 feet wide and 60 feet long but feel free to shorten that for convenience or quick dips in the ocean. The rules are simple. Think horseshoes but with more finesse (and even less chance of severe head injuries). Bocce sets are available at Redix on Causeway Drive for as little as $15.


Any trip to the beach requires a solid base of operations and beach boys don’t sit on the sand. Behold the Renetto Canopy Beach Chair. Renetto a design firm powered by childhood friends Dave Reeb Paul Robinett and Steve Tinto calls the canopy chair the “first shot fired in the Renetto revolution.” This ingenious lightweight and overall exceptional seat made with lightweight steel and heavy-duty nylon fabric provides the amenities you’ve come to expect from a first-class beach chair — dual drink holders light weight storage space and resistance to salt air — but also adds two more fabulous features in one: the canopy. Say it starts raining on your day at the beach. You’re covered. Burning sun? Covered. Reach back with one hand and it’s “canopy engage!” When you’re ready to head out the chair folds quickly and the canopy becomes the backpack that carries your chair complete with padded shoulder straps. The Renetto Canopy Chair is available online at for $49.99.

Though celebrities and others famous for no apparent reason may inexplicably enjoy wearing clownishly oversized sunglasses to the beach these kinds of things don’t fly with beach boys on the Azalea Coast. You require a cooler look more understated classier and the bodacious amount of sunshine requires total UV protection to keep you from frying your retinas on the water. The Dragon Brigade blends form and function with cool and class marrying high tech lenses with classic good looks that will protect your eyes and keep you from looking like you’re trying out for the X-Games Extreme Sunglasses Team. The Brigade protects your peepers with 21st century high impact-resistant polycarbonate APX lenses that provide 100 percent UV protection and the available classic jet or tortoiseshell frames won’t go out of style 15 minutes after your purchase. The Brigade is available locally with an MSRP of $85 at Sweetwater Surf Shop on North Lumina Avenue.

Wilmington native Shawn Spencer’s Bike Cycles store in Mayfaire Community Shopping Center has the perfect bike for cruising around our favorite island in the sun: the Wrightsville Beach Cruiser. This sky-blue beauty rides on 26-inch tires for a smooth ride on sand or street and employs a coaster brake for simple and slightly nostalgic speed control. Besides the familiar name this bike was actually custom-designed for the laid-back beach lifestyle. As Bike Cycles’ Charlie George explains “The cruiser is what we call a pedal-forward design with a short seat which allows you to ride a little lower but still get good leg extension.” The Wrightsville Beach Cruiser is the perfect choice for folks seeking simple eco-friendly transport cruising with family and friends or even light exercise without the need for tight-fitting shorts. The three-speed Wrightsville Beach Cruiser is available exclusively at Bike Cycles for $359.

For those who tend to spend their time beneath the waves it’s hard to top the Suunto Stinger dive watch as the ultimate for exploring the life aquatic. Created for the serious diver the Stinger matches good looks with features that would impress Cousteau himself. Besides being a reliable durable and handsome timepiece the Stinger incorporates a full decompression dive computer that constantly monitors current depth dive time no-decompression time and ascent time. The Stinger also features separate fully functional air nitrox and free dive gauge modes. Recorded logs of your adventures under the sea can be downloaded to your PC analyzed and relived with the available Suunto Dive Manager software. Starting at $800 and up the Suunto Stinger is available locally at Aquatic Safaris 5751-4 Oleander Drive in Wilmington.

Another sport gaining popularity is standup paddle surfing. Standup Paddle Surfing involves well surfing in the standing position while using a paddle for locomotion and control. You’re standing the whole time in this sport — balancing going both out to the waves and riding them in — so it’s an awesome core workout and a great cross-training system for keeping fit. The boards are wider and longer than traditional surfboards and the paddle itself adds new dimensions to the possibilities on a wave. The sport also has the added aura of cool via recent touting by legendary waterman Laird Hamilton as being beyond fun and exciting. Mike Barden of Surf City Surf Shop on Causeway Drive recommends the Surf Tech 12-foot 1-inch Laird Standup Board for $1 660 and a C4 Waterman Pohaku Two-Piece Paddle for $299.95. Barden owner of Surf City and an avid standup surfer says “The Laird is the most versatile board to ride across the widest range of conditions.” If it’s good enough for Laird and good enough for Mike it’s good enough for us.

Ready for a real rush? If so a kiteboard is the raddest ride in town. Although relatively obscure to the general public kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the nation. Hunter Brown of local kiteboarding outfitters Blowing in the Wind has a thought for the beginner: Get a lesson. “Whenever someone comes in asking about a good basic setup or if someone comes in looking at a kiteboard as a gift for someone else that’s always my first bit of advice ” Brown says. But before the lesson Brown says it’s a smart move to fly a trainer kite an on-land kite to master your skills first. A good trainer kite will cost between $100 and $200. Then take the lesson and learn about wind direction the basic workings of the kite the board the harness and the general nature of the sport. Once you’ve got the basics down Brown says “Start with a North Rebel 08 Kitesurf Kite sized for your weight and a Crazy Fly Allround Kiteboard.” Add in the essential gear that goes with them and the cost for launching yourself off the wave tops is in the neighborhood of $2 000. Blowing in the Wind has two locations one in downtown Wilmington’s Cotton Exchange and a second location on Causeway Drive in Wrightsville Beach.

If you’re one of those beach boys who can’t enjoy a day at the beach without staying connected to your growing empire and a Blackberry no longer rings your bell the Panasonic Toughbook has your name all over it. This nearly indestructible laptop military tested and protected by a full magnesium alloy case includes a 1.66 GHz dual-core processor an 80 GB shock-proof hard drive a 13.3-inch daylight readable color LCD moisture-sealed keyboard and an available wireless broadband connection so you can take care of business from your beach. The Panasonic Toughbook is available from Panasonic’s for around $4 000.

Once business is taken care of it’s time for some adrenaline-fired fun on the Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-12F. The STX-12’s power plant is adapted from Kawasaki’s popular Ninja motorcycle line. Its dual overhead camshaft 1 199 cc water-cooled engine generates pure power for rocketing through the water at speeds approaching 70 mph. The STX also comes equipped with what the manufacturer calls Kawasaki Smart Steering or KSS. The KSS system is an onboard microprocessor that monitors the steering of the watercraft and signals the engine to increase power during tight quick turns. Should one of these tight quick turns toss you into the drink the STX’s automatically retracting boarding step located at the rear of the hull will get you back up and riding before anyone notices you lost your balance your cool and your sunglasses. The STX-12F has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $7 999 and is available through Market Street’s Britt Motorsports.

Do the words “shudder with amazement” mean anything to you? Of course they do. And it’s you they’ll be shuddering about when you make the dockside scene in the awesome comfort and stunning technical abilities of the Grady-White Canyon 336 a 33-foot beauty that boasts the largest center-console setup available. With a beam width upwards of 11 feet and seating for three there’s plenty of room for friends fellow fishermen or family around the console. Remarkably a day in the sun is no sweat on the 336 with an available console air conditioning system that remains open air yet cool and comfortable. The system also cools the cabin below with its 5 000 BTU of chilling power. Back up on deck the 336’s stereo system can entertain friends and family with a CD sound system that includes auxiliary jacks for mp3s and plays through molded-in speakers. The 336 features a fly by wire control system deftly handling available twin F350 four stroke Yamaha outboards — good for 700 hp — which cruise efficiently at more than 30 mph and top out at a screaming 50 mph. Literally gents hold on to your hats. The boat is more than well equipped for any fishing expedition with a 350-gallon fuel tank multiple fishing stations horizontal storage for six rods and more cooler space than a Carolina Panthers tailgate party. The boat isn’t just for sport fishermen however with comfortable seating a berth below deck and plenty of room for sunbathing or whiling away a summer day. Newland Crocker of Crocker’s Marine sums it up quite nicely when he says “It’s the kind of boat you can take out to the Gulf Stream on Saturday and then take the family out to Masonboro on Sunday.” The Grady-White Canyon 336 starts at $245 000 and is available at Crocker’s Marine.