Summer Baby Names: Surf’s Up

Summer‘s almost upon us, and this week Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel heads to the beach for a look at some cool surfers’ names.

From June to August, summer baby names are plentiful.  The season offers vintage options like Pearl and Leo, while parents with more modern tastes can opt for choices like Oceane and Bay

When I think of summer baby names, here’s what sticks in my mind: a poster of Kelly Slater spotted in an Ocean City surf shop.  I was there to stock up on sunscreen, but found myself wondering about those fearless athletes who travel the globe in search of the endless summer.

Baby names inspired by surfing stars make for a surprisingly eclectic group, but the common thread is an edgy kind of energy.  While many summer baby names are laid back and relaxed, this list is daring. 

Of course, many a legend has answered to a nickname like Wingnut or the Daily Wavester, while others have been just plain Bob.

Here are my picks for the most vibrant, interesting appellations to ever hang ten.


Coco – You know her as a fashion icon, but Hawaii’s Coco Ho is a pro surfer currently on the tour.

GidgetSally Field’s bubbly television character from the 1960s was based on a series of novels by Frederick Kohner.  Kohner’s daughter Kathy surfed with the boys and earned the nickname Gidget, just like the fictional version.

IsabelBorn in 1899, Isabel Letham was just 15 when surf evangelist Duke Kahanmoku chose her to take part in his Sydney surfing exhibition.  This makes her the first Australian to catch a wave.

Jericho – A pioneer in women’s surfing as well as a powerful place name.

Keala – Keala Kennelly surfed before she could walk, and was one of the real life surfers to appear in 2002’s Blue Crush.  Pronounced ke AH lah, the Hawaiian name means “the path.”

Layne – This world champion has a very appropriate last name – Beachley.

Margo – From land-locked Pennsylvania to three-time world surf champion, today Margo Oberg runs a famous surfing school in Hawaii.

RellRell Sunn was surfing at age 4 and competing by 14, before there was a separate women’s division.  Her Hawaiian middle name, Kapolioka’ehukai, means Heart of the Sea.

Rochelle – Among the best female surfers today, Rochelle Ballard is one of the women featured in the 2001 documentary 7 Girls.  A surf-obsessed parent could double dip: put Rochelle on birth certificate, and call her Rell.

Serena – Another of the 7 Girls from the 2001 documentary.

SilvanaBrazil’s Silvana Lima is one of several South American women currently making a mark in the sport.

SofiaPeru’s most famous surfer, an International Hall of Fame inductee, and the first South American woman to make waves.


Alejo – Brazilian-born rookie Alejo Muniz puts an exotic spin on Alexis.

BeauSon of the legendary Nat Young – who tried to register surfing as a religion  – Beau is a champion in his own right.  He appeared in The Endless Summer II, a remake of the 1966 classic road trip flick.

Bede – An up and coming Australian pro surfer with the name of a venerable monk.

Duke – He’s surfing royalty, but Duke is no title – he inherited his given name from his dad.  The senior Duke Kahanamoku was born in 1869 when Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was visiting HawaiiDuke Jr. won Olympic gold medals in swimming, then used his fame to export surfing around the world.

Jadson – From a Brazilian surfer currently competing internationally.

Kai – Australia’s Kai Otton sports the kind of wild curling blonde hair that you’d imagine on a pro surfer.

Kelly – Arguably the best surfer competing today, Kelly Slater could encourage parents to reconsider Kelly for a son.  His occupational surname is another sporting option.

LairdLaird Hamilton is one of the best known surfers of our time, thanks to movie appearances like 2002’s cameo in Die Another DayLaird’s name is a Scottish twist on Lord.

Maz – A four-time New Zealand champ, Maz Quinn comes from a family of surfers.

Miki Miki “Da CatDora was born Miklos, and made his mark back in the 1950s and 60s, appearing in 1966’s classic surf film The Endless Summer.

Neco – From Brazilian surfer Neco Padaratz.

Owl – Short board innovator Craig Elmer Chapman is better known as Owl.  If Fox and Finch are options, why not this wise choice?

Taj – Australian surfer Taj Burrow has helped boost the name in his native country.  Taj comes from an Arabic word for crown.


NEW NAMEBERRY FEATURE: You can now add famous people and pop culture references to any and every name in the database (as in  Ready, set, go!

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