Growing up in the ‘80s in Waukesha, WI, nothing was more hot stuff in grade school or middle school than a Ron Jon t-shirt. Florida was another world – a better world – and Ron Jon epitomized its peak: the ocean, surfing, beaches, bikinis, sunshine. Just the name! Cocoa Beach. You can’t imagine how alluring and aspirational going to that place was from the dreary, gray, cold, Midwest. And this was long before everything from everywhere could be ordered online. If you had a shirt from Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, that means you went!
I don’t recall exactly how old I was when I first stepped through the doors at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, 11? My memories from childhood aren’t especially detailed, but I remember visiting with my mom and brother and renting boogie boards and walking to the beach right nearby.
From before I was a teenager, I wanted to live in Florida. I made that dream come true in 2012. I now live at the beach on Amelia Island. At some level, Ron Jon contributed to that desire.
I am devoutly anti-consumerism. America’s obsession with stuff is driving the world off a cliff of climate change, plastic waste and extinction. My “My Favorite Florida” series typically focuses on culture and history and art and nature, of which Florida has in prodigious and mostly underappreciated quantities. This may very well be the only time a store will ever be featured. But Ron Jon, the original (sort of), belongs.
I last visited in 2023 and it still brought back wonderful memories and a broad smile to my face.
Where is Ron Jon Surf Shop Located?
No longer a small surf shack selling a few boards and suits, Ron Jon Surf Shop is now a gigantic, grocery store-sized retail location two blocks from the sand on Cocoa Beach. Cocoa, FL is on the mainland seven miles west. Driving over from Cocoa, you’ll cross the Indian River Lagoon, Merritt Island and the Banana River to reach the narrow sliver of land Cocoa Beach sits on.
Cape Canaveral, where the Space Shuttle took off and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located, are just to the north. That’s why this part of Florida is called “The Space Coast.” There’s a nude beach up there as well and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for birds and birders. It’s also home to one of Florida’s largest cruise ship terminals.
In Cocoa Beach, the Ron Jon Surf Shop street address is 4151 N Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931. The Orlando International Airport is 50 miles to the west. The Daytona International Speedway, Home of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, is 80 miles to the north. Vero Beach, another of my favorites in Florida, is 55 miles south, straight down the beach road – A1A – the entire way. A1A runs the length of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, paralleling Interstate 95, and is a joy to travel passing through countless charming beach towns like Cocoa Beach if you have time to dawdle and don’t mind the stop lights.
Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach has a parking lot around back, there’s street parking in the area and a parking garage next door. This area is TOURISTY! Make no mistake about that. Ron Jon isn’t a “locals favorite” or “hidden gem.” It’s packed with dozens of souvenir seekers from open to close.
Where did Ron Jon Surf Shop Start?
The origins of Ron Jon Surf Shop are not found in Florida, they’re found in New Jersey. Say, what!
Ron DiMenna was a surf bum on the Jersey Shore who opened his first surf shop in Long Island Beach, NJ in 1961. The now flagship location, the world’s most famous surf shop – Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach – opened in 1963.
This coincides with the peak of the surf craze in America. The Beach Boys’ debut album, “Surfin’ Safari,” was released in 1962. Their “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Surfer Girl” albums followed the next year.
America’s involvement in the space race and its goal of putting a man on the moon – a goal set by President John. F. Kennedy, hence the name, Kennedy Space Center (the area was in fact, once called Cape Kennedy) – brought thousands of new residents to this part of Florida. Engineers and astronauts and military officials came. They brought their families with them. Retail locations and restaurants sprung up to serve them, as did doctors and dentist and lawyers offices and home builders. Cocoa and Cocoa Beach and Brevard County were booming.
Ron Jon History
On those Ron Jon t-shirts, you’ll see the phrase “One-of-a-Kind.” In spirit perhaps, not in actuality. As mentioned, the second Ron Jon Surf Shop opened in Cocoa Beach two years after the original following a visit to Florida by DiMenna. Both the original Jersey location and the flagship in Cocoa Beach have been expanded and renovated numerous times through the years.
DiMenna would open more Ron Jon’s in popular vacation spots along the East Coast. Today, there are more than a dozen locations including stores in Ocean City, Maryland, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Orlando (Disney Springs), Fort Myers, Clearwater Beach, Panama City Beach, Key West and Pensacola Beach in Florida and Orange Beach in Alabama.
There’s even a location in the Jet Blue Terminal 5 at J.F.K. International Airport in New York! There are airport outposts in Orlando, Tampa and Miami as well.
Ron Jon has gone international with stores in Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Turk.
Ron Jon Surf Shop has even progressed beyond the beach with a location in Las Vegas in The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay.
Ron Jon in Cocoa Beach, the world’s largest surf shop, now sells hundreds of varieties of surf boards, t-shirts, sweatshirts, flip-flops, sunglasses, stickers, hats – you name it – stuff for men and women and kids and babies, home decor and even more from its online store. It’s no longer necessary to visit Cocoa Beach, or any of the physical stores, to put a Ron Jon t-shirt on your back.
Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach doesn’t just sell stuff, it offers surfing lessons.
Ron Jon Hours
Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach is 0pen 365 days a year from 9 AM to 11 PM.
Last Updated on February 22, 2023