Top 10 Hidden Gems of Surf Expo 2023

Surf Expo, once a watersports wonderland, adds a January event. What can riders now expect from this premier event?
Surf Expo 2023 venue
Surf expo exhibitors fill up a massive hall in Orlando. Rich Aloha

Since its debut in 1976, Surf Expo, has drawn in multitudes of surfing enthusiasts and brands from across the globe to Orlando, Florida. The expo occurs twice a year to accommodate the buying seasons of surfing and beach lifestyle businesses alike. I had the opportunity to attend last week’s January event which was simply amazing. I was on the lookout for the latest and greatest in wakesurf technology and products. However, I didn’t find much as the event caters mostly to ocean surfers. As I walked around the massive exhibit hall, I looked for anything that would be of interest or useful to you: our foiling, wakesurfing, and wakeboarding audience. However, I didn’t find much. Fortunately, I did find a few hidden gems at the booths that I’m stoked to tell you about! Read on to see what I found.

Wake Surfing

Phase 5 at Surf Expo
Phase 5 Booth at Surf Expo. Rich Aloha

Phase 5

Phase 5 manufactures an assortment of wake surfing boards to cater to any rider’s needs. They offer surf and skim style boards for beginners all the way up to meeting the demands of performance driven wake surf professionals. I loved seeing some of the newer designs and shapes on display at the expo. One of which is the New Phase 5 Gadget board + GoFoil package for all the foiling enthusiasts out there. It sports a lightweight construction made of carbon innegra vertical weave with epoxy resin for superior strength. These materials give the Gadget board a rigid profile for ultimate control and fine tuning while riding. They also offer several wing configurations and parts to accommodate the majority of riders. Phase 5 is a brand you can trust as they’re backed by some of the best wake surf talent on the planet: John Akerman, Sean Silviera, Jett Lambert, Ashley Inloes, Whitley Stewart and many more incredibly talented riders!

Rusty wakeboards at Surf Expo
Rusty Surfboards displaying wakeboards used by Team Mastercraft rider, Austin Keen. Rich Aloha

Rusty Surfboards

Prior to the show I had no idea Rusty Surfboards made wake surf boards, so I was pleasantly surprised to see some of their new boards. I’m excited to announce Rusty just signed Austin Keen, a legendary Professional Skimboarder and Wakesurfer. Together they’ve created a new line of wake surf boards coming soon. One of which is the Austin Keen Pint board. Suited for the intermediate rider the Pint is a great all-around board for anyone. It is equipped with a protective EVA foam on top of the deck that protects the board from dings and the boat from scratches. It also has a 5 fin box system for endless fin configurations to suit your desired riding style. When searching for your new board, switch it up with the new Pint and other boards from Rusty Surfboards!

Brands on a Mission to Save the Planet and More!

After not having much luck at all in the wake surf space, I shifted my focus to finding anything water enthusiasts would enjoy. Amongst the show floor I found several brands and organizations worth mentioning. Sustainability is the name of the game these days, so I found many who operate with our planet in mind as there’s No Planet B!

Pirani Life

Pirani makes insulated tumblers that are reusable. The company is on a mission to end single-use plastics for good by creating the world’s most sustainable party cups! They offer a variety of colors and designs to cater to their customers. The Tumblers are insulated, dishwasher safe, stackable and available in 16 oz and 26 oz sizes. Made of stainless steel these tumblers are tough enough to last a lifetime. One of the coolest features on the tumbles is the measurements at each line of the cup which is super useful whenever you don’t have measuring cups handy. The premium Skinny-Wall Triple Insulation™ keeps your drinks hot for up to 6 hours and cold for 12+ hours. Be sure to check out the New Ombre Tumbler Collection for the coolest designs you can find on a tumbler. Break up with plastic and discover your new favorite cup from Pirani! 

Pop Paddleboards

Pop Board Co. Boasts makes several amazing inflatable paddle board kits. The kits include everything you need to get out on the water. The board, paddle, fin, pump and surf lease all fit in one travel friendly bag with wheels. What separates Pop from other brands? They have some of the highest drop stitch counts on the market and use a thick military-grade PVC shell for extreme durability and strength. It gives the board its rigidity to keep the intended shape while inflated and protects the board from abrasion and punctures. I’m keen on grabbing the retro looking model called the Yacht Hopper which boasts an incredible color scheme for a dynamic look on the water.

Dragon Alliance Sunglasses

As most of our viewers are in or around water often, I found some amazing sunglasses on the show floor. Unfortunately, most don’t float, but that’s not the case here. The Burgee H2O is your next favorite pair of sunglasses. The Burgee Floats on water so you’re less likely to lose your shades. Equipped with the New LumaLens, the Burgee boasts vibrant colors, clarity, 100% UV protection and polarization to better protect your eyes.


4Ocean makes bracelets and other products to promote awareness of their mission to clean the world’s oceans. Unfortunately, we humans pollute the earth so much! Thankful 4Ocean decided to do something about it. The organization pledges to remove one pound of trash from the oceans, rivers, and coastlines for every purchase of a 4Ocean product. So far 4Ocean has removed over 27 MILLION pounds of trash out of the water! I can’t even wrap my mind around how much trash that really is! The most popular item they sell is the 4Ocean bracelets which are made from recycled materials. The bracelets are available in a variety of colors and designs. Each with a special mission in mind to support various organizations and protect animals too. It’s safe to say they don’t plan on stopping until the world’s waterways are free from trash. Join 4Ocean’s mission and pledge to use less plastic today so together we can build a cleaner ocean for generations to come!

Gel Blaster at Surf Expo
Gel Blaster in action at Surf Expo. Rich Aloha

Gel Blaster

Looks like airsoft and paintball finally have some much needed competition. The Gel Blaster booth took the cake by a long shot for the most fun booth at Surf Expo! Think of Nerf but better. Gel Blaster makes kids blasters that sport eco-friendly ammo called gellets which are made from starch and water. The gel ammo beads are non-toxic, biodegradable, ecosafe and formed by soaking Gel Blaster gellets in water for 2 hours. After that the fun is on! It can launch up to 12 gellets per second at speeds of up to 250+ feet per second. Absolutely incredible! I had a blast shooting the New Gel Blaster Surge XL! The blaster has 3 shooting modes: single, three shot burst, and fully automatic. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy playing with the gellets which is oddly satisfying. Don’t just take my word for it. Look into Gel Blaster today for your next greatest toy for kids and adults alike.

Gecko Brands

Gecko has created an incredible amount of waterproof products that are great for all water enthusiasts. I had the opportunity to test one of their products for myself. The Gecko floating phone case is a huge win for anyone out on the water. What makes this phone case amazing is the ability to use your device while it’s in the protective case. You can text, talk on the phone, and even use your phone’s camera to take photos and videos of your adventures! In the event your phone falls in the water you don’t need to worry because the phone sleeve floats. The case is available in 5 different colors that make it easy to spot floating in the water. 

Lokai Bracelets 

Lokai is on a mission to spread positivity. Through the highs and lows of life – Stay Humble – Stay Hopeful. Their motto is evident in their bracelets as they infuse water from the highest point on earth, Mount Everest, and mud from the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. The bracelets are a visual reminder that we all go through times of joy and times of struggle. Lokai has a bunch of color combinations and even bracelets inspired by NBA teams, charities, Disney and more. On the philanthropic side, Lokai donates 10% of net profits to help their charity partners and has donated nearly 10 million dollars to date. Be reminded of balance in everyday life with Lokai bracelets.

VimHue Hats

VimHue makes hats specifically designed and engineered to fit women. The hats come in a plethora of colors and are the perfect addition to your wardrobe. A variety of hat styles allow you to wear your hair up, down, or anywhere in between. As an added bonus they have a UPF 50 protective rating against sun rays. Next time you’re out on the water or going anywhere really… Go in style with the comfortable and versatile hats from VimHue.

Till Next Time…

I hope you enjoyed the featured products in this article. Let us know in the comments below what you’d like to know about from our next journey at Surf Expo. Until then, it was a blast to attend the Surf Expo and I can’t wait to join again in September 2023. I hope the next Surf Expo will feature more boats, boards, and lifestyle gear the wake community would enjoy.  More to come! Stay tuned!