Hobie, legendary board maker, segues into eyewear

Hobie Sunglasses are stylish and practical

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The name Hobie has been associated with Hawaii for a long, long time. Time to get acquainted with the Hobie sunglasses or, in industry terms, “eyewear”. Enter Hobie Eyewear.

But let’s digress. Decades before the board maker expanded into bikinis and shorts, a guy named Hobie Alter was shaping boards in his family’s Laguna Beach summer home for friends. Mr. Alter later went into business and set up shop at Dana Point on the Pacific Coast Highway–two blocks from where the current Hobie Surf Shop stands.


According to his bio on the Hobie website, Mr. Alter did more than just shape boards–he ended up “shaping a culture”.

Hobie Monarch sunglasses protect against UV
Yeah, they look pretty cool…and the gray polarized lens works quite well.

Perhaps…but let’s not forget the Beach Boys!

All kidding aside, Hobie Surfboards did have an all-star following including Phil Edwards, Joey Cabell, Corky Carroll, Mickey Munoz, Mike Hynson, Dick Brewer, Terry Martin, Herbie Fletcher, and World Champion, Joyce Hoffman, among others.

In the early sixties, Hobie Alter partnered with fellow surfing buddy, Dick Metz, and they hung up a shingle in Honolulu. The “Honolulu Store”, as it was called, became a well known watering hole for visiting surfers. (Today I note that Hobie Sports has a surf shop in Lahaina, but none in Oahu).

Fast forward to 2023

Hobie is now sells eyewear and being in the eyewear testing business I wanted to see what they had to offer. Heretofore all of the eyewear I’ve tested in the past was “firearms compliant” but the Hobie models are not.

Hobie Eyewear's Monarch
Aesthetically the Monarch looks pretty cool. I didn’t care for the “side shields” (at left) which can be removed.

Probably not a good idea to take them to the range but if you live in the Aloha State, you absolutely need reliable UV protection. Given the tropical sun, you’ll need decent polarization as well.  The Monarch has 100% UV Protection and that’s obligatory around here.

The Hobie Monarch (retailing at $71 on Amazon) model I have has worked out well. They’re very comfortable seated on my nose and my ears. They wrap comfortably along my temples and come with a strap, which I love. Otherwise, I will lose them!

As a “road-tester”, I keep them in my Subaru so I wear them all the time.

One other cool attribute…they float “like a butterfly” according to Hobie. A butterfly? Maybe but it does give me a bit more peace of mind when I’m on my friend Rafi’s sailboat. If the glasses make their way into the drink on a weekend adventure…no problem.  

Hobie Monarch Sunglasses  comes with a strap
Folks, I love the strap on the Hobie Monarch

If you’re into more of a classic, streamlined look, consider the Cabo. Just let the good looks fool you. It also has all of the Hobie lens technology. For example, it provides color balance which according to Hobie “allows eyes to transmit clear ‘color messages’ to the brain providing the ability to see all colors vividly.”

The Hydroclean Plus lens coatings provide vision on and off of the water with polarized film technology, while reducing distracting reflections and glare.

Among its features:

  • Polarized Polycarbonate Lenses
  • TR-90 Frame
  • HydroClean™ 360° coated
  • 100% UV Protection
  • Precision Flex Hinges
  • Rx Ready
I’m partial to the Cabo too. It’s got a bit more an urbane style but is still Hobie-rugged. I will add my own strap. Otherwise, it may disappear in my upcoming Europe trip.

Battle Tested

According to Hobie “enhanced hydrophobic and anti-reflective coatings” are applied to each lens under carefully controlled conditions which allows them to sheds water, resist dust and grime.

Hobie states that their Grilamid TR-90 Frames are a “battle tested nylon-polymer blend that can withstand the rigors of the avid water athlete. These frames are tough and crack resistant, hypo-allergenic and resilient.”

Whether they are “battle tested” in Afghanistan or Ukraine, I don’t know, but so far the frames have held up even when I accidently sat on them in my car.

Fortunately I don’t weigh that much.

Lens coating on Hobie Monarch Sunglasses %%sitename%% is tough
Hobie lauds their durable, lens coatings. I’ll let you know if they hold up.

I do like the classic style of the glasses. The only thing I didn’t care for was the “side shields” which seemed to restrict peripheral vision. Fortunately, they are removable so no big deal.

In checking out reviews from customers on Amazon, the company reportedly has exceptional customer service. One customer said he admittedly scratched the lenses on his glasses and Hobie sent him a code for 50% off to purchase a new pair. Pretty nice of them.


Would I recommend these?

So far so good. Whether the hydrophobic and anti-reflective coatings hold up to saltwater, etc. in the long run, I’ll find out. With other brands I’ve noted the coating on the lenses begins to peel.

Both the Monarch and Cabo models comes with their own little ‘luggage’. Perfect for travel. (photo by Rob Kay)

Will my apprise my faithful readers, in six months. I plan to take a pair or two on assignment in the Mediterranean, and see how they hold up on the ferry between Gibraltar and North Africa.

In the meantime, I’m looking good and I’m confident they will protect my aging eyes. And of course if I drop them in the drink, they will float like a butterfly or maybe a duck.


A shout out to the Hobie Memorial Foundation which is raising funds to construct a memorial honoring Hobie Alter’s life and his contributions to the surfing, boating, and skateboarding industries. The Hobie Memorial Foundation Newsletter publishes fascinating historical accounts in every issue.




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