A beverage’s main purpose should be for hydration. However, having a bit of flavor and added health and energy benefits is always a plus for us surfers! Drinks are a big business. Beverage companies spend millions developing content and sponsoring athletes to gain market share and awareness. Energy drinks have sponsored pro surfers and action sports athletes. Hydrating sports drinks like Gatorade were made famous by aligning with team sports and many sodas are represented by athletes. However these beverages aren’t the best drinks for athletes, as they do contain much added sugar and artificial ingredients.

There is a trend now in the drink industry for healthier, more natural drink choices and independent entrepreneurs are leading the charge. Rohan Oza (a frequent Shark Tank guest) mentioned on a prior Shark Tank episode that bigger brands are now known to let the indie companies develop new brands and then they just acquire them, rather than innovate themselves Below are some newer and healthier alternative beverage brands for surfers, by independent brands, many of which are also located in our hood of Southern California!

Wave Soda

This new company is based out of Encinitas/Carlsbad. I discovered them at the grand opening of Blenders Eyewear store here in Pacific Beach, San Diego. I got to sample all of their flavors at the event and really enjoyed them all.

I love that they have variety packs so you can switch up the flavors if you enjoy them all equally. I was actually surprised how much I liked the cucumber flavor as usually that’s not my favorite, however it’s mixed with lemon and pear juice as well which I think added just enough sweetness, but not too much, to keep it flavorful and yet still light and refreshing.

I really have been trying to curb my Diet Pepsi habit (that my mom got me into as a kid – ha), and this is an excellent alternative to regular diet soda. I talked to the people representing the brand at the event and they told me the founder came up with the idea for the beverage when he was trying to kick his diet soda habit.

Wave Soda has minimal calories (only 15-25 calories per 12 oz can). It also has just enough natural caffeine from coffee beans to perk you up in the morning (as I don’t do coffee) or get you pumped for a surf sesh, but not too much to get you jittery and wired like some of the energy drinks can with all their weird ingredients. Wave Soda is simply soda water and instead of artificial sweetener, it’s flavored with natural fruit juice. Getting curious to try it out, go ahead and pick it up here!

Coconut Water

I really discovered the benefits of coconut water after a bad case of food poisoning. My friend told me to get some gingerale and coconut water to keep myself hydrated. The coconut water was exactly what I needed as food poisoning dehydrates you and it really hit the spot and helped me recover. The same goes for surfing. When you’re out in the salty ocean, especially after a long surf session under a hot summer sun, there is absolutely nothing better to drink afterwards than a refreshing coconut water drink that quenches your thirst and hydrates you. It’s also known to be a good source of antioxidants. Coconut water is definitely a much better option than the processed ingredients, artificial sweeteners, and food dye found in many sports drinks. You can even make your own homeade natural sport drink with coconut water!

I became a bit obsessed with coconuts since my food poisoning incident, and there’s nothing better than drinking straight from a young coconut and the amazing delicious young coconut meat inside it. However, a coconut can be a bit heavy and big to bring to the beach with you for a typical surf sesh (an average young coconut only produces a half to a cup of coconut water). Therefore, the following coconut water brands are my fave:

Villager Goods Coconut Water

Villager Goods is another local company in San Diego County (Cardiff by the Sea) that is fairly new to the beverage industry. They have a line of coconut drinks that is 100% pure coconut water from coconut trees in the Philippines. The brand launched in 2016 and instead of simply sponsoring pro surfers, it got them to personally invest in the brand and leave their sponsorship deals from several soda and energy drink brands. It contains around 70 calories per 8 oz container.

Vita Coco

This is one of the leading, but still independent (but distributed by Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group), brands in the coconut water space. It was started in 2003, after it’s founder from New York visited Brazil and discovered the sensation of agua de coco.

They have many other flavor varieties as well (pineapple, peach/mango, lime, lemonade, and my favorite – pressed coconut). The pressed coconut flavor blends the yummy, young coconut into the drink for a nuttier, sweeter taste without any extra sugar. The regular coconut flavor has 90 calories per 8 oz. container. The flavored varieties have a bit more calories, ranging from 100-140 per 8 oz. container.

Soda and energy drinks average around 12-13 calories an ounce vs. regular coconut water which ranges from 9-11 calories per ounce (for the natural pure flavor) to 13-18 calories an ounce for the infused flavor varieties. However, coconut water drinks typically come packaged in smaller portions at 8 oz. vs. soda at 12 oz. and energy drinks at 16 oz., plus the fact that coconut water drinks don’t have artificial ingredients added, make them a much better option than regular soda and energy drinks.

Vita Coco even has a new line of “sparkling and bubbly” (a newer, cooler way of saying carbonated) coconut beverages in grapefruit, raspberry ginger, & pineapple passion fruit that only have 25 calories per 12 oz can (2 calories an ounce). These drinks obviously have less of the hydrating, quench your thirst coconut water, but are a good option to get your coconut fix with a lower calorie beverage and other natural flavors.

Mother Beverage – Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

I discovered this drink from a recent episode of Shark Tank. They got a deal and also got a new customer after I viewed the episode.

Mother Beverage Apple CIder Beverages

I’ve heard about the benefits that apple cider vinegar has been known to have, including gut friendly bacteria for digestion (similar to Kombucha), as well as increasing metabolism, heart health, relieving bloating, etc. However I have also heard that it is not very tasty. When I watched the show, the founders talked about that problem and their solution to make a beverage that included it as a core ingredient but was easier to drink. The fact that it was carbonated sold me in on the drink. It’s also a low calorie option, at only 15 calories for 12 oz.!

They have several flavors such as blueberry sage, strawberry limeade, lime-ginger, pineapple turmeric, raspberry rose and blood orange. Like Wave Soda, Mother Beverage also offers a variety pack, which I ordered. I loved every flavor of the Mother Beverage product as well, however I do think the strawberry limeade was my favorite. What I really enjoy about this beverage is that it’s got a real kick and bite to it. You kind of feel like you’re drinking an alcoholic drink, as the apple cider vinegar is strong and on its own, people have compared it to taking shots of other alcohol types as well.

It’s also pretty convenient to bring to the beach for a pre/post surf drink as well, as it has a screw cap vs. other brands that have bottle caps in which you need to bring a bottle opener. It’s a glass container though so a bit heavier to pack in your beach bag.

Health-Ade – Kombucha

Kombucha in general is supposed to have similar health benefits as coconut water (antioxidants) and apple cider vinegar (kill bacteria, heart health), due to it containing tea and probiotics. There are also versions of Kombucha that contain alcohol as well.

I admit, I’m not as familiar with this beverage, and the Health-Ade brand as I’ve only had the alcoholic kinds and haven’t tried all the flavors. However, I follow Lakey Peterson and Sage Erickson on Instagram and they’re always touting Health-Ade brand of Kombucha and its benefits. I’m sure they have deals with the brand, as it’s locally brewed and based out of Los Angeles, nearby their home base up in Santa Barbara, but I do think they truly consume this product regardless.

I did some research on this brand and they have a wide variety of 12 different flavors including blood-orange-carrot-ginger, pink lady apple, ginger lemon, pomegranate, cayenne cleanse, jalapeno-kiwi-cucumber, bubbly rose, the original, california grape, power greens, maca berry and holiday cheers. Health-Ade Kombucha is also similar to coconut water in calorie content (60-80 calories for 8 oz).


We saved the best for last. There is no better beverage for hydrating with zero calories than pure water (without any salt or other ingredients). It doesn’t have any flavor or contain any energy benefits but people definitely have more energy when hydrated vs. not hydrated. Buy a Brita filter or something and keep your water bottle full. We’re not going into any specific water brands here, as water brands are all mainly about pure image/marketing and packaging.

That’s the high level overview on some of the newer alternative healthier versions of drinks (non-alcoholic – ha) to bring with you to the beach to get you pepped for a surf sesh and hydrate you afterwards!