The Surfinista

Surfing; Skateboarding; Sunshine; Friendship; Good vibes; Local art; A relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, and fresh, healthy food – All the things that make cocoa beach cocoa beach contribute equally to the character of the surfinista, and it’s hard to imagine one existing without the other.

You could say that The Surfinista is a microcosm of the beachside town so many love so well. It’s manifested here physically in the excellent food and beverages, as well as spiritually, as evinced by the strong local following it has enjoyed since it opened in November 2009. The all-embracing Surfinista ethos is the same today as it was back then: to feed the body as well as the soul.

That ethos developed both naturally and by design, as owners and devoted waterfolk Diane and Bruce Reynolds explain. “When we travel, we like to experience a representative slice of wherever we are. The Surfinista was on opportunity to create that here in Cocoa Beach.”

“Every community needs a place that is specific to its wants and needs – a really strong place where people feel comfortable being themselves and expressing themselves and meeting and making new friends,” Bruce says. “From the beginning, we wanted people to feel like it belonged to them – a place where they have taken ownership. We let our customers set the tone of the place. I think that rich spirit of aloha just developed and expanded organically.”

It’s fitting, then, that this hugely popular place is more of a lifestyle than run-of-the-mill café. While it’s a breakfast and brunch spot, health-food haven, smoothie and juice bar, entertainment venue, and coffee shop, The Surfinista also regularly plays host to organized meetings and facilitates the kind of daily, impromptu connections between locals of all backgrounds that keep our community ticking.

Diane grew up in an atmosphere where it wasn’t unusual to have 20 people at the dinner table some nights. “Everyone was welcome,” she says, and it holds true at The Surfinista today. Bruce, a multi-talented artist and designer whose work (along with those of many other artists) adorns the walls here, remembers planning and constructing clubhouses and forts as a kid, so it’s no wonder that The Surfinista the perfect clubhouse, a culmination of his youthful desire for a place where camaraderie holds sway. “Surfing has a rich heritage in this area,” he says, “and we wanted to create a communal place for the whole surfing ‘tribe.’”

There’s no doubt that surfing informs a major part of Surfinista’s identity, but it also readily embraces all the related aspects of that lifestyle and its inclusive, open-hearted philosophy. Young families, landlocked tourists, and retirees flock here and love it with just as much verve, and it also draws people who’ve embraced healthy, mindful living thanks to a selection of fresh and unique creations that offer nutritional and spiritual sustenance.

Along with six specialty bagel creations (our favorite: The Strawberry Alarm Clock – melted Havarti with a side of strawberry jam), there’s a selection of healthy oatmeal or yogurt bowls and breakfast egg sandwiches served on either English muffin or croissant. Lunch is covered by made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, and wraps, but The Surfinista owes the bulk of its success to the humble açaí berry.

acai bowl from The Surfanista

Pure, organic açaí pulp is used for incredible smoothies and fresh juices, but it’s as açaí na tigela(“açaí in the bowl”) that the antioxidant-rich fruit is best represented. Açaí bowls have long been the traditional energizing surf food for Brazilians, and there are eight different bowl preparations (often topped with other fresh fruit and granola) here, our favorite of which, the On Surfari, incorporates vegan protein powder, flax and hemp seed, supergreens, and a variety of tropical fruits.

Cold-pressed juices are also a signature Surfinista offering. They contain a variety of ingredients, from sweet fruits to greens, and are prepared in a way that extracts all of the nutrients without destroying their enzymes, unlike traditional juice processing methods. One of the most refreshing blends kale, spinach, broccoli, celery, cucumber, apples, and fresh ginger.

In a way, The Surfinista vibe is cold-pressed as well, resulting in a spirit distilled from all the goodness the beachside has to offer. “From the first day,” Bruce and Diane agree, “we ran The Surfinista on a nurturing philosophy rather than on a business philosophy. We still do. We’re not just moving widgets.”

The Surfinista is located at 86 N. Orlando Ave. in the heart of downtown Cocoa Beach. Call (321) 613-3864 or look for them on Facebook: “The Surfinista”

The Cosmos Are Smiling On Space Coast Anglers

As I sit down to write this report, I’m brimming with excitement and optimism.

I’m as happy as anyone else who had a chance to experience the dolphin bite in the middle of April.

There were a couple of days when the moon and stars aligned and heaven on earth was experienced by some lucky fisherman. I happened to miss the first day, but managed to get into the action on the second day. It was honestly a thing of beauty. There was a strip of green water with Gulf Stream blue water on the inshore and offshore side with a massive current rip on the offshore side. It was pretty much what dreams are made of if you like to troll. Not only did it look right, there were dolphin seemingly everywhere along the edge. In addition to the crazy numbers of fish, they were all quality-sized fish. Average catches were in the high teens to mid-twenties with some boats catching thirty or more. I can honestly say it was one of the best bites of mahi I have ever seen. The only downer was that on the third day, the edge was gone. But, there were still a few fish around in the wide open.

I’m gonna cross my fingers that the moon and stars remain aligned and this is the year our dolphin fishing makes a decided upturn. Assuming said alignment, it will just be a matter of finding the right color change, weedline, or edge. From there, some ballyhoo rigged on mono leaders should do the trick, just troll them close to your teaser. Along with the dolphin, there should be a shot at a wahoo, sailfish or blackfin tuna. The others will be fine on mono, but if you want a shot at the hoo, put a ballyhoo/lure combo rigged on wire in the spread. This bait should be fished on the shotgun or downrigger.

I have to say I’m sorry, but even as good as that mahi bite was, I’m more so looking forward to the opening of grouper on May 1. There were a few around in April, hopefully they will stick around through May. When it opens May 1, the grouper will be in as shallow 75’ on out to the cones. Take plenty of big live baits and possibly a prescription for a sedative. The patience testers will be the red snapper eating all your bait and the sandbar sharks that will eat the fish you hook. A little patience will go a long way to a grouper dinner.

The live bait fishing on the reefs was a bit spotty last month, but I would expect that to get a bit better in May. Usually in May, we get a shot at some big kings as they get ready to spawn. Along with the kings, there could be a shot at a blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish or cobia. The live bait has been a bit tough lately, but with some decent weather, maybe they’ll settle down in one area.

People always ask me “What’s the best month to fish?” I always tell them “Why, May of course!” You can pretty much catch anything in May, so there are so many options.

Whatever it is you wanna go for, go for it. Just get out there and get after ‘em. It’s not going to happen if you’re stuck doing honey do’s.

See ya on the pond!

Legend of the Surfing Santas

Surfing Santas was created six years ago when George Trosset Sr. convinced his son and daughter-in-law to go surfing with him on a chilly christmas eve. Bedecked in Santa and elf costumes, the trosset’s started what is now a citywide tradition. Today, surfing santas brings in thousands of spectators to downtown Cocoa Beach, raises money for charity, and puts a surfers’ spin on the holiday season.



How did you come up with the idea for Surfing Santas?

My mom wore a t-shirt with a Surfing Santa and my wife bought some Surfing Santa ornaments before I ever thought of it. Then In November of 2009, I saw a car commercial for Honda with daybreak surfing Santas. That Christmas Eve, my son and I went out and surfed in costumes. The only two spectators were my wife and grandson. My beard was made out of blanket. I remember how water soaked it got and I couldn’t get air in my lungs. Perfect wrong combination! I was exhausted after a few waves. But the newspaper had us on the front page on December 25th. People came up to me later and asked, what’s this Surfing Santa thing?

The second year, we wore full blown Santa suits. The soaking wet costumes were almost eighty pounds. We learned we needed red rash guards and that beards don’t work out well in the ocean.

I wasn’t looking for 300 Surfing Santas or 3,000 or 4,000 spectators. I just wanted a family day at the beach and this is what it turned into.

How did the Skydiving Santas get involved ?

In November 2012, I met a guy called named Chuck Julian. He’s a skydiving specialist and offered to sky surf into our event. In 2013, six people landed on the beach in full Santa suits. The crowd was screaming! Last year, 19 skydived.

How much have you raised for charity? 

We raised over $20,000. Grind for Life has had a donation jar and we’ve had people donate and rally around us. We sell t-shirts every year and we have a surfboard auction to raise money. The giving that comes out for this event is magical, really magical.

Where would you like to see Surfing Santa next?

I have no idea. Deerfield Beach and places across the world want to do their own event. It starts with five or ten people. I see this happening in lots of coastal communities. They’ll have fun and it will grow into people helping people. If we inspired them, so be it. I don’t want to claim that we’re responsible. I don’t want to control Surfing Santas. I just want to have fun and share what worked for us.

My vision is somebody like Zack BrownJack Johnson or Jimmy Buffet will be inspired by the event and write song about it. Maybe even perform it for us!




Dr. Duane De Freese

March’s massive algae bloom and fish kill had everyone pointing fingers.

Taxpayers blamed lawmakers, inland residents blamed coastal, and protesters with signs on State Road 520 let their voices be heard.

Experts have been working nonstop to find out more about the causes, and solutions to prevent another fish kill. One of those experts is Dr. Duane De Freese, Executive Director of the Indian River Lagoon, or IRL Council. He holds a doctorate in Marine Biology and has been an avid surfer since the 70s. Obviously, De Freese knows water.

The  Indian River Lagoon Council’s territory reaches from Ponce Inlet in Volusia County all the way down to Jupiter Inlet at the north end of Palm Beach County. It covers five counties and 50 cities.

The Indian River Lagoon is long, very narrow, and relatively poorly flushed. It’s a super shallow system that is very biodiverse. De Freese pointed out that all of the things that make the lagoon special in its biodiversity also make it very vulnerable to human impact.

“I’ve seen pictures on Facebook where people are blowing leaves and grass cuttings either into the lagoon or into a storm drain. So this idea that there isn’t a role for the citizen isn’t at all true. If every citizen would do the right thing it would actually make a difference.”

Since the 70s the lagoon has been in a state of environmental flux. Projects were created to improve water quality by removing some forms of point source pollution. The community stopped pumping directly from wastewater treatment plants. Procedures were created to deal with stormwater. But no one anticipated Brevard’s enormous population boom. Rapid growth brought heavily fertilized lawns, a number of new homes with septic, and runoff that affected the groundwater.

“We doubled our population and we’re now seeing the impact.”

State of the Lagoon

After the latest algae bloom and fish kill, many residents are concerned about the state of the lagoon.

“The scale is important to consider even in the fish kill situation. We’ve got Lake Okeechobee and the impacts of the discharges down in St. Lucie River coming in at the southern. We have this fish kill and algae bloom in the northern end. But it’s a really big lagoon. There’s a lot of places in the middle where water quality is looking pretty good right now. If someone says ‘oh, the lagoon is dying,’ you almost have to ask, what segment of the lagoon are you talking about?”

The exact origin of the brown algae and the trigger for the bloom however, remains a mystery. “We know they’re fueled by nutrients but maybe there’s some environmental trigger we don’t understand.”

Contributing Factors

Currently excess nutrients are trapped in the system in the form of muck deposits. Roughly fifty, sixty years of people throwing their grass clippings and vegetation down storm water drains have collected on the lagoon bottom. “The big issue is searching for a way to remove muck and decrease that nutrient load right off the bat. But it doesn’t make any sense to remove what’s there if we’re going to just put more stuff in. It’s like pulling water from one end of the hose and adding it to the other end. It never gets dry.”

De Freese also added that we have to change the way we deliver stormwater.

“We know we need to hold water back. We need to treat it before it gets released. We need to move it into the system more naturally so it’s not a giant bulk.” The combination of leaking septic, aging sewer systems, and other factors also contributed a nutrient load that chokes lagoon life. “All of those nitrogen and phosphorus loads need to get cut. If we did that we’ll start to see the system respond favorably.”

How to Help

The lagoon is finite and eventually the system is overwhelmed. Since you can’t change population density, each person must decrease their pollutant outputs significantly to get back to that natural baseline. There’s a lot of things that the general public can do to make a difference. “We’re applying fertilizer at levels that are higher than ever because we want that green yard and lush foliage. We put more than we need and often apply it incorrectly.” Avoiding rolling, green lawns that edge up to the lagoon would be a start. “I don’t fertilize my lawn. We’re in Florida. We need to redefine what’s good landscape for a coastal community.”

De Freese also recommends bagging your grass clippings or putting them in a trash can if you live along the water. The clippings may end up in the landfill but they’ll stay out of the lagoon. Another contaminate is old or failing septic systems. Many homeowners don’t know they’re failing or getting ready to fail. “We need to improve the wastewater system so those systems don’t contribute nitrogen and phosphorous to the ground. There’s only two solutions, you’re either going to take them to an advanced septic system or we need to connect them with the city.”


De Freese named the four main components needed to move the needle toward recovery. Remove the excess nutrients, reduce nutrients we’re adding, restore and recover. The council is working in partnership with state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to better inform our citizens, remove excess nutrients, and use the best science we have to protect the system and generate funding. De Freese added that St. John’s River Management and South Water District and various state agencies and local governments are aggressively finding solutions to the problem. It may seem that nothing is happening but there’s a lot of work already underway. “By October, we’ll be administering 38 projects…But the response of the river is going to be slow.” Muck is  an important removal that requires big dredges. The dredge head hydraulically brings muck off the bottom and it’s forced through a pipe that runs a half a mile and spills it out into a spoil site. “They’re hoping to take that super high nutrient muck out of the system. We’re pretty sure that it’s that muck is fueling some of these blooms.”

There are projects that are categorized in ranges of big regional scale to smaller projects. Muck removal is considered a big scale project. “We have large stormwater conveyances like Turkey Creek, and all the watershed that drains into Turkey Creek. That can be a large project or multiple small projects.

The Cost of Ignoring the Problem

There’s a popular saying, “When you point a finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.” It’s a gentle reminder that when you point out someone’s mistakes remember you’re also highlighting your own. It’s time residents and lawmakers decide what’s important. Daily activities and choices made by millions can make or break this delicate ecosystem. The choice is ours.

Dr. Duane De Freese is the Executive Director of the Indian River Lagoon Council and Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. For more information about their mission visit

By Nataleigh Palmer

Never Leave Good Surf To Look For Good Surf

February certainly delivered this year- we’ve had almost enough clean, surfable days to make up for that atrocious January and December.


Once, while checking a spot with a friend of mine and seeing three-to-four-foot peeling waves, I suggested we drive a bit further south to see if looked better. My friend said he was going to paddle out, citing his rule of thumb to “never leave good surf to look for good surf.” In Florida, he reasoned, the wind and tide are so fickle that you could potentially lose your session just by driving around.

I still drive around to look for the best conditions, and maybe I miss a session or two “in search of,” but sometimes I do find a sandbar that I wouldn’t have known about had I stayed put. In the old days when I could walk to the beach, I rarely drove, and wasn’t the worse for wear. But once you get that little gremlin in your head that says it might be better somewhere else is difficult to shake.

As I write this, I’m in Costa Rica, blissed out after a three-hour session of head-high peeling waves. A quick check of the Brevard County surf report shows solid (albeit cold) conditions back home. This follows Murphy’s Law of Surf Trips, which states that as soon as you get on that plane, a swell is bound to fill in at your home break. The corollary of which is the “new board curse.”

Whether you believe in any of this hocus pocus is irrelevant, so long as you caught some of those February waves.

As for the Surf Museum news, nothing much to report this month. We’ve got a board swap coming up in April, so stay tuned. Also, if you haven’t already, come check out our “Shortboard Evolution Revolution” exhibit.

By Dan Reiter

On The Shoulders of Giants

For the last 30 years of my life, I have had the privilege of learning from one of skateboarding’s most iconic figures, Bruce Walker.

Bruce has often been sighted riding his skateboard, performing flat-land routines between Coconuts and the Beach Shack, usually at sunset time.

In the 1980s I used to watch the Walker Skateboard Team at contests, demos and even in the streets near 1st St North and Woodland where the Walker Skateboard Factory was located (currently being occupied by Twin Style Hair Salon). Anyway, I would skate to the factory and wait for Jim McCall, Bruce Walker and sometimes even Reggie Barnes to come out on a “skate break.” They were masters of flat-land skateboarding. They’d watch each other take turns putting routines down on the asphalt. 360’s, space walks, nose wheelies, handstands, kick flips, old tricks, new tricks, they did it all.

Looking back today, I am not sure I ever realized how important those sessions were for me to witness. If California had the industry, magazines, scenes and pros, then 1st and Woodland had it for Florida. That intersection was the mecca for a number of years. The factory was also a distributor that carried all the brands. Lots of Walker team pros and amateurs would come to our little section of skateboarding culture and skate the flat and “curb cuts” near the storage units. Both Jim and Bruce helped to pioneer the modern skateboard movement and invented numerous tricks. Most notably, McCall with the first “Frontside Air” on a ramp or pool, and Bruce, along with many other accolades is credited with being the first skateboarding distribution businessman in North America. Bruce also had constructed the earliest “curved” skateboard ramp.

Bruce is a Skateboarding Hall of Fame member and a Surfing Hall of Fame member. Standing about 6’4” and with a physical resemblance to a classic physically fit Batman or Superman character, Bruce is impossible to miss at the skate or surf session. Bruce rides a non-traditional skateboard that is 42” long and is special made with eight plys of maple instead of the standard ply. He has ridden a long skateboard since I have known him. Classic photos of Bruce in pools on conventional short boards proves his ability to ride anything and any type of board on any type of terrain.

Bruce offered guidance during my early competitive years. He would explain to me how urgent it was to skate the entire course, emphasizing the importance of style, speed, continuity, difficult tricks and variety. I understand now that this was one of the most important conversations I had as a young skater. I was not even on the Walker team, yet I had the guy who coached Jim McCall, Rodney Mullen, Sean Slater, Reggie Barnes, Kelly Slater and Chuck Dinkins helping me with my contest runs and strategy. It was not like we spent hours reviewing footage or techniques, just constant conversations about how to do better in contests. I was a contest skater. I lived for contests. We would travel all over the state for any competition. Often I found myself hitching ride to contests in the legendary “Walker Van”. I was hungry and wanted to be on the Walker team like nothing else. Bruce would see me win contests, place in the top three, and even get last place sometimes. He always was honest and supportive. Again, mind boggling that he even gave me the time of day since I was not on his team.

As time went on Mark Lake, one of Bruce’s most influential pros was starting his own brand, Lake Skateboards. I would join the Lake team in 1988 but not before knocking on Bruce Walker’s office door to ask for his advice. For the last two years I had been riding Walker boards that I got at a discounted “B-Team” rate, so naturally I felt like I owed Bruce a conversation due to the drastic levels of loyalty I had for Walker Skateboards. Bruce told me (again) that with him, Chuck Dinkins and Jim McCall all in CB and Melbourne that he really would be oversaturated, geographically, by adding me. I totally understood and he was right. If I lived in middle-America I would have had a way better chance perhaps. He went on to say that Mark had a cool, edgy thing going and I would fit in well with that team. I actually did want to join Lake since it was a new Florida brand with the strength and history of Mark Lake. I still ride Lake Boards today, 28 years later. Mark Lake actually got to watch me win a contest in March in Ft. Lauderdale. Then I got last in the very next contest, so not much has changed. Only now, to talk contests and skateboarding with Bruce, I will just have to call his cell phone. Hopefully, he will be able to chat in between sessions at Pipeline and the North Shore Skate Park.

I’d like to send a huge “Thank You” to Bruce for all you have done for the world of skateboarding and surfing, in Cocoa Beach and beyond. See you soon!

Bruce Best of Nui Tiki

Best has been part of the beach scene for years. His art has been worn across chests, graced walls, and his tikis have lined many yards. Few tourist have left town without posing with one of his tikis posed throughout Cocoa Beach.

Best was always drawn to art. He focused on industrial art in high school.

“I started off just working on little woodworking projects. After I graduated, I wound up working for Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV) out of Virginia Beach. I ended up running the art department and we were on the cutting edge of T-shirt design. It was the 80s. The era of New Wave and Punk Rock. Quicksilver and Billabong had just started. The surf industry was on the cusp of things just taking off. It translated into WRV making huge money with T-shirt designs. That’s where I learned art on the ground level and grew from there.”


Best traveled and thrived as an artist but was ultimately pulled to Cocoa Beach.

“I ended up here working for the late Wayne Coombs, his wife Beki and Chester Abelin at Mai Tiki. We worked together and had a good time. There’s still a lot of work that Wayne and I worked on together around town. We did the tikis at Coconuts and made the concrete ones in front of Ron Jon’s. He was a big inspiration and improvised a lot of tools and how things were done. I already had an art background so everything fell together naturally. Now I’m carrying the torch forward in honor of Wayne and Chester.”


Wayne’s gift of turning trash to treasure rubbed off on Best. “I have some prints and the originals were simply colored paper from Michaels. I took an exacto knife and made images of waves. Carving sable or cabbage palms or pineapples into a Key West-style fence post or recreating stuff out of foam. Anything can be made into art. My art doesn’t pigeonhole me to one style. Once I have a vision I can come up with a beach or Polynesian idea based on the materials I have on hand.”


Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Best believes the materials speak to the artist.

“You have to look at the elements of the wood and the grain and picture what this can become. I had an old wooden doormat. My wife Dina, who’s my biggest supporter, kept saying to do something with an old wooden doormat. I created a crane and placed it on this red wood doormat. It took something that we walked on everyday and elevated it to a nice piece of art that someone hung on a wall. You have to get a feel for what the wood will allow you to do and then you take the ball and run with it. All artists do it. Whether it’s paper or a doormat or panels off a pallet, suddenly you’ll see something in the material that wasn’t there before. As Wayne would say, ‘I see dollar signs.’”


Bob Ross the painter was once asked how long it took him to paint a picture. He said, “It’s taken twenty years to paint for twenty minutes.” Best has a similar answer.

”When someone asks me how long it takes me to make a tiki, I tell them the truth. It takes me about five beers. I don’t know, do I drink fast or do I drink slow? It depends on what the wood will allow me to do. I could say it takes as long as it needs to in order to do it right. Everyone has a different style whether it’s Ed from Ed’s Heads, Island Mike, or Keith from Capizzi’s Tikis and everyone has a different speed.”


Best donates his time to the community through carving demonstrations and beautification projects. He’s gearing up for another big project.

“The city is revitalizing down Minutemen Causeway. FPL was moving wires to the south side of sidewalk to make way for the beautification. The city asked me if I could help out. Wayne had done similar tiki projects in the past. I obliged. I told them to leave them [the palms] six feet in the ground and I’d carve them. I didn’t ask for any money for it or get paid. We all do our part here. Whether it’s someone walking down the beach and picking up trash or cigarette butts or replanting sea oats. I’m just doing my part to beautify the walk down Minutemen.”

Bruce Best can be found at Nui Tiki Studio at 249 Minutemen Causeway, (321) 626-3168. Visit NuiTiki Studio on Facebook or