PONTCHA is a brand and community that PROMOTES A REGIONAL REVELATION OF SURF LIFESTYLE THROUGH ART, APPAREL, and surf.
Why a Louisiana SUrf Club?
Louisiana has had a minimal surf culture since the 60s–70s, as historically people have flocked to Port Fourchon and Grand Isle. Local legend has it that at one time you could have seen over 40 people in the water at the height of the popularity of surfing during that era. Over the course of decades the numbers have dwindled as many grew older or stopped surfing altogether. Fast forward to today where the local surf shops have closed and there came a need for an organized effort to bring everyone together. So we created an outlet for people from all over the nation who have either been transplanted here, are locals, or are Louisiana surf-elders.
What does the name ‘Pontcha’ mean?
At the start, we were aiming to provide the image of what a surf club at 60s–70s Pontchartrain Beach would look like. Hence the name Pontcha; short for Pontchartrain. To us, it combines the flavor of New Orleans with the riches of culture that the rest of the state provides.
What’s it like to surf in Louisiana?
For most of the year the swells never get more than waist high or two to three feet. Much of our community opts to using shortboards or mid-lengths to navigate the quick sections with our onshore summer swells. During the fall and winter the swells get larger and the faces open up with offshore winds. The opportunity to choose a longboard for either occasion is still there, and we have a few people that prefer those smaller days with little wind to get in some time on the nose. The waves do lack punch, so you will be paddling a good bit in waist high or smaller. While the waves aren’t known to hollow out in smaller conditions, they do get steep quickly.
Where do you surf in Louisiana?
There are a few beaches in Louisiana that have become surfing hubs:
Pontchartrain Beach, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, offers a novelty wave for the ages. Not accessible by the public for a few years. Enter at your own risk!
Holly Beach, in Southwest Louisiana, is a nearly four hour drive from New Orleans. Accessible to the public.
Grand Isle, a small island community two hours south of New Orleans, has become one of the bigger hubs in the modern day. Coming off of the bridge turn right into the sand lot for public parking. Do not park in neighborhoods, respect the locals!
Port Fourchon, on the road to Grand Isle, was where the legend of Louisiana surfing began. Formerly a beach accessible to the public, it is only accessible by boat now (2018).
What’s the water like?
I know you’ve heard the water is gross in Louisiana for whatever reason but the truth is that it isn’t. One of the reasons that the water in the Gulf in places such as Grand Isle has a brownish tint to it is because of silt deposits from the Mississippi River being forced back up north from the delta. The sand is also not white like you’d find in most places on the Gulf Coast; it’s brown and the same consistency of silt. On Lake Pontchartrain it’s important to pay attention to local entities for water quality assurance. The Lake is an estuary that has many heavily traveled, recreational tributaries flowing into it. The water isn’t dirty, it just has character.
Will I need a WETSUIt?
Just like with most Gulf Coast spots you’ll need to pay attention to water temperatures and act accordingly. As a basic rule of thumb for beginners, if average air temperatures are too cool for a swimsuit, then you’ll need some form of wetsuit.
WHERE CAN I BUY A WETSUIT?
See below for a list of semi-local surf shops. They can help you get fitted if it’s your first time. If you’d rather buy online, pay attention to the sizing charts!
Are there any local surf shops?
The only local New Orleans surf shop closed its doors in 2012. However, there are options all along the Gulf Coast to choose from. Since we are over six hours from Galveston, we tend to go east to Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, and Pensacola for the surf shops. Here’s a list of some shops we know and trust:
Blu Revival — Dauphin Island, AL
Tambo’s Surf Shack & Our Coffee — Gulf Shores, AL
Waterboyz Surf & Skate — Pensacola, FL
Innerlight — Gulf Breeze, Pensacola, FL
We always have a supply of wax. If needed send us a DM on Instagram or an email!
DOes Pontcha have a storefront?
At the present moment, no. We’re purely online with the occasional pop-up shop, both locally and along the Gulf Coast. We’re available in some local boutiques but please call ahead if planning to visit one, as our stock sells quickly and isn’t always available. Here’s a list of shops we currently or recently have offered a small stock to:
Friend, New Orleans — 600 Carondelet St. Unit 120
Tim’s Garage, Baton Rouge — 4556 Government St.
Where do i go for surf reports?
As of right now the only reputable place to receive surf reports for Louisiana spots is through Surfline. For the Lake we rely on marine forecasts. For further information on receiving reports from us directly see our next question!
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
With more than fifty “members” it’s hard to stay in contact with all of them. We created a GroupMe to stay in contact with everyone. If you’d like to join the GroupMe to receive updates, surf reports, and stay in contact with everyone in the club just send us an email or DM us on Instagram and we’ll send you a link.