surfer in wetsuit with waterproof key holder

Surfing with Keys: Here’s How to Keep Them Safe and Dry!

Driving to the beach to go surfing is a great thing, especially when the waves are perfect.

However, it can be a hassle and stress to figure out what to do with your car keys.

Many keys these days are electronic, which we all know means that they do not mix well with water.

With this in mind, let’s run through all the questions you might have about where to put your keys when you surf and give answers to each along the way.

How do you keep your key safe while surfing?

There are a couple of options to help you do this, the main ones are:

  1. Waterproof key holder under your wetsuit
  2. Key ‘safe’ or lock box on your car
  3. Hide your keys
  4. Leave with a friend

Waterproof key holder under your wetsuit

This is my go-to option and comes recommended as the best choice in this list. 

I have used a waterproof key holder for the last 8 years and recommend it for the reasons of simplicity and reliability.

I currently use the Aquapac Classic case from Amazon and have had it for 8 years. It’s been great and I have not once had any problem with a key after using it.

In fact, you can see me putting it on in the image below!

surfer in wetsuit with waterproof key holder
Me getting changed before a surf, readying my recommened Aquapac Classic key holder over on Amazon!

The only downsides using this kind of key holder when surfing are as follows:

  • Tricky to use on your own
  • Can be a bit awkward on your back

It’s always easiest to ask a friend to help you tuck this kind of key holder into your wetsuit, although you can do it yourself.

If surfing solo, you might like to put this key holder in the chest compartment of your wetsuit to make it easier, if you’re happy that it is secure there of course.

The other point is that, if you don’t get it flat with your back, it can feel a little awkward when you are out surfing, so try to take the time to get it right.

This is minor and can be avoided by removing keyrings and any jagged objects from your keys before using your key pouch.

Key ‘safe’ or lock box on your car

You can also find ‘key safes’ for surfers on the market, which are metal boxes that have a padlock-type loop that you can fasten onto your tow bar.

These ‘surf key boxes’ then close with a numerical combination lock, meaning you need to have the code to enter these.

I have used one of these many years ago (2006, would you believe!) but I did not use it for long for a couple of key reasons:

  1. Combination locks are notoriously easy for thieves
  2. Too visible for my liking
  3. Clogged with sand and salt
  4. Insurance problems

Being a cyclist as well as a surfer (see my other blog The Bike Commuter if interested!), I know that combination locks are one of the easiest locks for thieves to crack. So, when I found that the lock box I’d ordered only had a 3-digit combination on it, I was pretty horrified at the thought of someone coming along to have a go at opening it while I was out in the surf (and succeeding!).

The shackle on these locks look robust but, again from cycling, I know that these kinds of systems don’t stop thieves stealing a bike so why would they stop them stealing a car?!

Visibility of these key safes was also a major concern for me. 

To attach it to my tow bar, I had to get down on the floor for a minute or two, which was quite obvious to anyone around.

Then, when I left, having a locked box from the tow bar was again pretty clear to all who walked past, even though it sounds discreet – for me it was not!

They say ‘out of sight, out of mind’, well in this case that wasn’t true, so I couldn’t really relax whenever I used it.

The key safe I had also became clogged with sand and salt quite quickly, the inevitable result of using a locking mechanism at the beach before and after a surf.

Perhaps I could have cleaned it better but I just felt that the mechanism was not trustworthy enough to merit any further use.

And like that, I stopped using my key safe after only a few sessions for fear of my car being stolen or it getting jammed shut, hence I don’t recommend this option for your keys when surfing.

These lock boxes for your car keys may also mean that your car insurance will not pay out in the event of theft, so yet another reason why not to use this option for your keys!

Stash or hide your keys

This is the classic option for many surfers; pull up, put the keys under a stone or something similar at the beach, and run down and hit the waves.

The problem here is that thieves have wised up to surfers doing this kind of thing.

[Q]I have heard of thieves sitting in a nearby car, watching for surfers to do this exact thing, then wait until the surfer is out of sight and pounce.

For the thieves, it’s easy – they have your car key and they know you’ve disappeared for 1-2 hours, making for an easy getaway without anybody around to sound the alarm.

Hopefully you can see that stashing your keys is the dumbest option on this list and makes a key safe/lock box look ‘great’ by comparison (I bet you didn’t think you’d hear me say that from the paragraph above!).

Whatever you do, don’t hide your car keys at the beach when you go surfing – invest a few dollars in my recommended option of the Aquapac from Amazon and remain in control of your keys while you surf.

Leave with a friend

This is a good option, but obviously it’s not always possible.

It doesn’t need much explaining but it’s definitely preferable to hiding your keys and probably better than a lock box.

Surfing with an Electronic Car Key

Modern cars all now have electronic car keys as standard, which offer more security but are a pain for surfers since they are:

  • Not waterproof
  • Short circuit when wet
  • Liable to corrosion from salt water/air

So, In terms of going surfing with an electronic car key, you have a couple of options:

  1. Put them in a waterproof key holder
  2. Request a traditional key from your car manufacturer
  3. Have one made

As outlined above, a good waterproof key holder will do the job here to keep your electronic car key safe and protected when surfing.

PS Definitely check out my post on essential car accessories for surfers for more helpful ideas and inspiration!

Wetsuit with Key Pocket

Many wetsuits come with a key pocket, either inside or on the leg of the suit. 

The problem here is that the key pockets on wetsuits are usually too small to fit a key inside a waterproof holder.

This means that you can’t keep your key dry if you wear it in the surf. 

Now, this might not be a problem for a humble house key, but it will destroy your electronic car key in one surf in most cases.

So, although it sounds great to have a wetsuit with a key pocket, don’t think of it as a deal breaker, as it is only good for simple keys, rather than car keys.

What’s the best surfing key holder?

The Aquapac Classic waterproof case is the most versatile and safest option for surfers with keys. It’s also affordable and lasts for many years, hence it comes highly recommended here for reasons explained in this post.

In terms of bang for your buck, the Aquapac classic over on Amazon also beats all others, so there really is no other worthwhile option at the time of writing.

Related Questions

Where to put stuff when surfing? The best is always in a locked car, covered up with bags to hide it from view as thieves know surfers to be an easy target. If no car, put it out of sight somewhere within running distance from the shore as thieves can and will take it.

From experience, I’ve seen a thief pick up mine and a friend’s bags that we left on the beach and run off with them, stealing our clothes for them never to be returned. In short, be careful!

Where do surfers keep car keys? The main options are a waterproof key holder, in ‘key safe’ lock box on the tow bar of a car, stashed nearby or with friends. As explained in this article, there is one clear winner which stands out above all the other options.

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