Updated: Nov 16
From sinners to saints, strip club to surf shop, SantoLoco has a story unlike any other surf shop.
Not only does the surf shop exist in what used to be a strip club; it has roots in Germany's eclectic surf culture.
Plus, this surf shop just miles away from the 7-mile miracle known as Oahu's North Shore.
If you're heading to Hawaii soon, here's why you should check out this fascinating surf shop.
SantoLoco is found on Kamehameha Highway in Wahiawa. Photo: Esther Helbach
The History of SantoLoco
SantoLoco, meaning crazy saint in Spanish, got its name from owner and manager Ronaldo Friesen.
Ronaldo, along with his brother Ricardo, grew up in the waves of Brazil. They both moved to Munich, Germany, in their early teens, and SantoLoco was inspired by the dream to bring a slice of Brazil to Germany.
Munich is more than a thousand kilometers from the sea, yet a fascinating surf culture exists thanks to the Eisbach river wave, a wall of water that you can ride for as long as your stamina allows, which attracts locals as well as tourists from all areas of Europe.
Ronaldo and Ricardo opened SantoLoco just a few kilometers away from this natural wonder, and the shop soon became one of Germany's most successful surf stores today.
While Ricardo ran the store in Munich, Ronaldo pursued warm water and large waves in Hawaii.
In 2019, he found the perfect spot to open Hawaii's version of SantoLoco in Wahiawa, adjacent to the nonprofit organization Surfing The Nations.
The building that Ronaldo was interested in had recently been renovated from a strip club into a beautiful storefront. The name SantoLoco — crazy saint — couldn't have been more fitting.
What’s Sold at Santo Loco
When entering SantoLoco, you are transported into surf paradise — aesthetic decor, all sizes and shapes of surfboards, and much more.
The environment guides you right into the relaxed island mindset — and the aroma of surf wax.
When you enter, on the left side of the register, there is a wall of fins, many of which are locally made. The art found in the store is primarily a collection of Ronaldo's findings over the years.
Behind the counter, you'll find a friendly face who loves to surf and can provide great tips on local hits.
Along with its own SantoLoco tshirts, SantoLoco supplies locally grown brands and household names such as Rhythm, TCSS, Vissla, Volcom, Florence and others.
Most of the boards in SantoLoco are shaped and glassed right in Wahiawa, too. In 2022, SantoLoco purchased an existing factory called Risen Resin alongside Myers Surfboards just a few blocks from the surf shop.
Along with today's top brands, SantoLoco also carries its own line of apparel, which Ronaldo happily reps. Photo: Esther Helbach
Inside SantoLoco, you will also notice a significant section dedicated to skating, supplying everything from the deck to the bolts.
Your next surfboard awaits. Photo: Esther Helbach
Waves Near SantoLoco
Though Wahiawa is toward the island's center, it is only a 17-minute drive to the nearest surfing spot, Aliʻi Beach Park.
World famous Pipeline is only 27 minutes away and is surrounded by many other local surf havens.
If you are looking for a slower, small wave, nearby Puaʻena Point offers a variety of waves depending on inside and outside breaks.
How To Get to SantoLoco
SantoLoco can be found at 35 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786.
The best place to park for SantoLoco is in the lot found behind the surf shop.
To find this lot coming from the south side of the island, you will drive past the store and turn left onto California Ave, then another left onto Ohai Street — keep any eye out for the many stray cats, dogs, and chickens that line the road.
After arriving, walk through the aloha-inspired alleyway that is a quaint welcome to the local stores.
SantoLoco: Oahu's Hidden Gem
Redemption takes many forms, and communities thrive when industry is reborn. SantoLoco has been a part of that rebirth in Wahiawa.
They provide quality local brands and spread good vibes to everyone who walks through the door.
Now that you know the back story, come check out the hidden gem of SantoLoco for yourself.