The Definitive Guide to the Best Surfboard for Beginners
Learning to surf isn’t easy. But you can make it a whole lot easier by choosing the right surfboard to start out with. With so many different types, brands and sizes though, how do you know just which one is the right one? Choosing the wrong board can have a major impact on your surfing. Making it much harder to learn, and much harder to stay motivated. Fortunately, there are a number of online resources which can help you choose, as well as some hard and fast rules which you can follow to ensure you end up with a board which will make it easier for you to learn. This article will discuss some of the different types of boards available, as well as some of the best surfboard for beginners.
As the name suggests, a surfboard is a board you use to surf. It’s basically a long plank, specifically designed to make it as easy as possible to catch the wave. And for you to stand up on it. As surfers progress in ability level, the type of board they use generally changes. But the basic premise of a board remains the same.
Types of surfboard
Shortboards are a kind of board generally reserved for more advanced surfers. As you may have guessed, these boards are shorter than most others. The benefit of this is that it’s easy to move around and perform maneuvers on a wave. But it is more difficult to catch waves and stand up on these in the first place. As a beginner, these should be avoided.
A fish is a very specific type of shortboard. It has a distinctive tail (back of the board). In that, it has two points on each side of the tail, as opposed to just a single endpoint. It is often shorter than a shortboard. But it is much wider and thicker, making it far easier to catch waves with.
A hybrid is a combination of the above two boards, the fish, and the shortboard. The outcome of this is that you have a board which is relatively easy to catch waves with, like a fish. But also provides surfers with the ability to execute difficult maneuvers, like a shortboard
Funboards are relatively similar to a longboard, which we will discuss below. They are thick and wide, enabling them to catch waves very easily. They are shorter than longboards though. Meaning as you advance, you’ll be able to more easily move around on the wave on this kind of board
If you’re a beginner, you won’t be going near this kind of board. A gun is very long and very thin, making it ideal for big wave surfing. The length helps to avoid the significant wobbling which would occur on a big wave with a shortboard. While the narrowness of the board helps it to remain in constant contact with the wave. And the surfer to stay upright
Longboards are great for beginners. But can also be used by very advanced surfers in the right conditions. These boards are long, thick and wide, making it very easy to catch waves on. Standing upon them is also very easy, as they stay much more stable than shorter boards.
SUP is an acronym for Stand up Paddle. Stand up Paddleboards are the biggest of all these boards. Much thicker, wider and longer than any of the surfboards above. SUP’s are used in conjunction with a paddle, making it very easy to catch small waves. They can also be used for reasons other than wave catching; for example, simply to paddle around and explore the ocean.
Top 10 BEST Surfboard for Beginners reviews
Surftech Learn2Surf Softop Surfboard
Our impression: I love this board for beginners. It’s available in a wide range of sizes. Meaning you can opt to buy a longer or shorter board depending on both your skill level as well as your own height and weight. The longest of these is 12′, which is extremely long. But will catch just about anything, and will be incredibly easy to stand upon. All of these boards are soft tops. Which is often the way to go when buying your first surfboard as it avoids the potential for injury. The problem with soft tops is that they are sometimes not as durable as fiberglass boards. But as far as soft boards go these are as sturdy as they come. It’ll cost a little bit longer as a result. But the years of use you’ll get out of the board make it worthwhile.
- The range of different lengths: This means you can pick the length most suitable to you.
- Soft top: Potential for injury to you or those around you is reduced.
- Durability: Unlike many soft tops, this board can get banged around and still remain in good condition.
- More expensive than similar boards: Soft tops are usually a little cheaper, but that isn’t the case with this board.
You can’t go wrong buying one of these boards to learn to surf on. They make the early stages of learning much easier, and you won’t have to worry about damaging the board thanks to its durability. Well and truly worth the hefty price tag.
Gold Coast Surfboards Soft Top Surfboard
Our impression: This board makes the learning process a lot easier. Coming in at 8’8”, it is long enough to make it simple to paddle into small waves, and its width and thickness make it more stable than many other boards. The soft top design is another thing I like, particularly for beginners. Generally, more experienced surfers don’t bother with soft tops, but for learning they are ideal. They aren’t too heavy and negate the risks of surfing. When you’re just starting out, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time falling, and it’s easy to get hit by your board. When it’s a soft board like this one, that isn’t such a problem. The drawback of many soft boards is that they are easily damaged, but this one is made of a special material which makes it both soft and durable.
- Size: Long, wide and thick, this board is a great size for surfers just learning the ropes.
- Soft top: Removes many of the risks which come with learning to surf.
- Comes with extras: Fins and a leash come with this board, which means you won’t have to buy them separately.
- A little more expensive: There are some cheaper options out there.
This is a great choice for beginners learning to surf. It’s a great size to start out on, and makes the often difficult process of learning a whole lot easier, and safer.
Rock-It 9’ MOBY Soft Top Longboard
Our impression: The first thing I noticed about this soft board is just how durable it is. Softboards can be prone to getting damage as a result of their foam exterior, but this board is a little different. The interior is made of three layers of fiberglass, the same material used to make hardboards. It also has two wood stringers, which run up the middle of the board and form the basis of its durability. The outer layer is soft, meaning you won’t hurt yourself or others, but inside is a very solidly constructed board. It is also a terrific size for learners, with 9’ more than enough to make it easy for you to catch waves and pop up on what is a very stable board. The board comes with three fins, which means you won’t have to worry about buying these separately, though you will need a leash.
- Durability: This board will last for long enough for many people to learn on.
- Size: Another good sized board for beginners, with all of the length, thickness, and width sufficient to make it a stable surfing option.
- Heavy: Due to the fiberglass interior construction, this board is a little heavier to carry around.
People looking to learn to surf will be very satisfied with this board. You’ll be comfortable out in the water with this board, so it’s definitely worth having a look at.
8’5” North 2 Fiberglass Core Soft Top Longboard
Our impression: The colors are the most noticeable initial thing about this surfboard, with the pink bottom half and blue top half meaning you’ll be very recognizable out in the water. As for the quality of the board, this is a great option for learning. It’s a little shorter than the others reviewed in this list but is still more than long enough to make it easy to learn on. It is also thick and wide, meaning you’ll have a lot of stability as you try to stand up on this board. The core is made of EPS and fiberglass, a combination which makes for an extremely solid interior; you could smash this board across jagged rocks and it would probably survive the impact. There are very few flaws with this board for learners.
- Stable: You’ll have plenty of time to work your way to your feet as you ride a wave on this board, as it is particularly stable.
- Durable: While the outside of this board is soft, the inside is very solid and will last a long time.
- Appearance: The colorful exterior may be off-putting to some.
Whether or not the bright colors are your thing, this board is still really nice to learn on. It’s well designed and surfs well, which is all you need to make it a good buy.
Boardworks Froth! Soft Top Surfboard 9’
Our impression: The shape of this surfboard is a little different to those reviewed above. Generally, beginner boards stay much the same width throughout the entire length of the board, in contrast to surfboards which tend to be more narrow at the tail and the nose. This board combines a little of both. It still has a fair bit of volume at the back and front of the board to ensure stability, but it does get a little narrower towards the end. What this means is that it is perhaps slightly less stable than some other beginner boards, but there is a benefit. You should still be able to learn on this board, and once you develop your basic skills, you’ll be able to keep using this board for longer than you would many other beginner boards as it is a little more maneuverable. It is also particularly light and durable, and at 9’ has plenty of lengths.
- Length: At 9’, it will be easy to learn to surf on this board.
- Durable construction: You’ll be able to get plenty of use out of this soft board.
- The shape is a little more advanced: The shape of this board makes it slightly less stable, though it also makes it easier to move around on waves.
If you’re extremely unconfined in the water, there are other boards which may provide a little extra stability than this. For most people though, it will still be simple to learn on and will allow you to advance a little further than some other beginner boards.
Empire Ehukai Soft Surfboard
Our impression: At 7’, this is comfortably the shortest board that we’ve reviewed on this list. It is more of a mid-length board than a longboard, but that doesn’t mean it is inappropriate for learning. The board is still long enough that catching waves is relatively simple, and it’s width and length mean it is a very stable option. It has a lot of width through the middle of the board and the nose, which add even further to this fact; you will be hard-pressed falling off this board. The interior is made of a High-Density EPS material, which will mean nothing to most of you, but essentially means that it is durable and won’t fall apart easily. On top of this, it’s extremely cheap, so you don’t have to invest too much in what may be your first ever surfboard.
- Durable: This board has a very strong interior, and will last a long time.
- Wide nose: This increases the stability of the board and will make it easier to develop your pop-up skills.
- Cheap: This is the cheapest board by far on this list.
- Shorter: Generally, I would recommend longer boards for beginners. Given the width and shape of this board, it is still suitable for learners, but if you want the easiest board possible to learn on then perhaps try something longer.
Some beginners may be a little hesitant to buy this board because of its length, but it’s still a great board to learn on. My beginner board was only a couple of inches longer and I learned fine, so this is a terrific option.
Wavestorm 8’ Surfboard
Our impression: This is a great board to learn on, but once you progress you’ll need to upgrade to a more high-performance board. At 8’, it is long enough to be able to catch small waves, and is nice and stable, enabling you to easily practice popping up. It is also a good shape for beginners, with the wide midsection and nose further increasing its stability. This is a soft board, with the interior made of polystyrene, and I like this for beginners because if you take it on the head after falling off a wave it won’t cause too much damage. This also makes it lighter than normal boards, which isn’t a problem unless you’re a little bit heavier. Softboards also tend to be much cheaper as a result of the materials they’re constructed with, and that’s certainly the case here. This board will make learning to surf pretty easy, but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll want to upgrade to a more expensive board.
- Size: At 8’ long and with a pretty wide nose and midsection, this is a great sized board for learning.
- Softboard: Softboards are great for learning on because they catch waves easily, and can’t hurt you or the people around you.
- Price: This board comes in extremely cheap.
- Only for beginners: Once you reach a reasonable level of surfing, this board won’t be appropriate for you any longer.
If you’re a true learner, this board will be a great buy. It’s very cheap, so you don’t have to invest a lot in a sport you’ve never tried before, and will make learning safe and easy. The main drawback is that you’ll need to upgrade at some point, but from a purely learning perspective, this is a good option.
Liquid Shredder FSE Soft Surfboard
Our impression: At 9’ long and 24.5” wide, this is a big board, which makes it perfect for beginners. This board will make it extremely easy for you to catch waves, and once you’re on them, you’ll be able to stand up as though you’re on land. This is another soft board, which, like the Wavestorm, means you won’t have to worry about knocking out people around you, or yourself! Often, the problem with soft boards is that they are a lot less durable and prone to being damaged, but Liquid Shredder has done a good job of nullifying this problem. There is a fiberglass ‘stringer’, which is a section through the middle of the board, and this adds a great deal of strength to the board to ensure it won’t be easily broken. Of course, you won’t want to surf this board once you reach a reasonable standard, but for the early stages of your surfing career, it’s a great choice.
- Length: At 9’, this will catch waves easily.
- Width: At 24.5”, the stability of this board far outweighs that of its more narrow competitors.
- Price: Thanks to the foam construction, this board comes in pretty cheap.
- Unsuitable for more advanced surfers: If you’re already a reasonable surfer, this won’t be suitable for you, nor will it once beginners start to develop their skills.
For genuine learners, this board is a fantastic choice. It will make learning to surf easy, and you’ll be able to do so comforted in the knowledge that your soft board isn’t going to hurt anyone around you. If you haven’t surfed much before, this board will be a great buy
Bic Sports Paint Surfboard
Our impression: Bic specializes in the unusual combination of pens and surfboards, and they do a very good job of the latter of these. You can find information about their varied range of surfboards here. This board, in particular, is really good for all manner of different surfers. Available in a range of sizes, anyone can learn on it, from kids under 10 through to fully grown adults. It’s very stable and thick, making it an ideal board to learn on, and importantly, the way it’s constructed means it’s virtually indestructible. You could just about run over this in your car and it would still stay in one piece. Another feature of this board which I really liked is that as you begin to advance as a surfer, you can still use it in the right conditions. It won’t be ideal for really high-quality surfers, but as you reach an intermediate level you can still have a lot of fun on this board.
- Indestructible: You’ll have an extremely hard time breaking this board.
- Stable: We know how important this is for learners, and this board does a great job of staying steady in the water.
- Cheap: You won’t have to break the bank to buy this one.
- Inappropriate in some conditions: When the swell is a little bigger or the waves are quite rough, this board will make it hard to move around easily in the water.
This is another great board to learn on. I particularly enjoy because if you’ve never surfed before, it will be a great option, but even if you’ve developed a reasonable skill level, you can still have a good time on this board. Coming in at a cheap price, this is one of the best options on the market for beginners.
Bic Sports DURA-TEC Surfboard
Our impression: This board is a lot like the Bic surfboard reviewed above, though probably a slightly inferior product. It has all the same features in that it’s durable and good for beginner to intermediate surfers, making it a pretty good option for surfers early on in their surfing career. If you need a board which you can be confident won’t get banged around if you leave it in the car or the garage, this is a good option. An added feature of this is that there is inbuilt traction along much of the back half of the board, which can be a good or a bad thing. The positive is that this can make it a little easier to keep your feet glued to the board, though many people find this annoying, particularly as they progress as surfers. It makes it a little more difficult to be agile on the wave, which won’t be a problem initially, but as you learn to surf it might become a cause for concern.
- Durable: Like the Bic we reviewed above, this board won’t be broken easily.
- Available in a range of sizes: This makes it suitable for surfers of a variety of ages and a range of skill levels.
- Good value: This board also comes in relatively cheap.
- Extra grip on the nose may annoy some: Though this can be helpful, it can also reduce your ability to adjust your foot position on the board.
Another great option, though the other Bic is probably a better overall purchase. This one will still do the job though, making learning relatively easy and providing you with a board which you won’t be able to break if you try. Beginners will certainly be happy with this purchase and will be able to surf it even as they develop their skills.
What to Consider when buying a surfboard for beginners
This is a vital factor to consider before buying your first board. If you buy a shortboard, unless it’s very thick and wide like a fish, you’ll be unable to progress, and will spend a lot of time falling face first into the water. In general, the longer the better for beginners, as these boards will be more stable and easier to learn on.
How much of a beginner are you? Have you surfed a little bit before, or have you literally never held a surfboard? If you have a little bit of experience, something in the 7’-8’ range might be suitable, while real newbies would be more suited to something longer than 8 feet.
Fitness is much more important for surfing than many people realize. I wasn’t particularly fit when I started out, and I noticed just how beneficial longer boards were as a result. These are far easier to paddle on and move much more easily through the water. Fitter people might be able to get away with smaller boards, but if you’re fit and have never surfed before, it’s still best to stick with a longboard.
Height and weight
This can have a major impact on how big your board should be. A board which is relatively long for one person might be mid-length for another, so if you’re particularly tall it might be worth going even longer than you anticipated. Likewise, if you’re a little bit heavier, try to find a board with a lot of volumes.
As a rule, longboards make it much easier to catch waves when conditions are small. This is another reason why beginners should generally start with longboards, as they’ll likely be learning in smaller conditions. To learn to surf, you should be practicing on small, slow waves, and as a result, you’ll need a longer, heavier board.
Fins have a major impact on the ability to move a surfboard through the water, which, for beginners, isn’t very relevant. They do, however, also impact the stability of a board, and as a beginner, you will want as much stability as possible. Fins which are further towards the tail of a board will help stability, and this is generally where they’ll be placed on longer boards.
Buying a surfboard is just the first step in the process of becoming a capable surfer. You’ll also need a number of accessories, including but not limited to a wetsuit to keep warm, wax to enable you to stand on your board, and a board bag to carry your board around in.
As mentioned above, a board bag is a vital accessory you’ll need to buy in conjunction with your surfboard. A board bag helps you to ensure your board won’t get banged around while you’re taking it to the beach, and won’t get affected by the sun if you leave it outside.
A traction pad is a pad which many boards have towards the tail. Basically, the stomp pad helps to increase grip. When you stand up, your back foot will usually be on the pad, and you’ll find it easier to keep that foot steady with a stomp pad.
Make sure you don’t enter the water without one of these! The leash keeps your foot attached to the board, and without one, you could end up stranded without a board after a wave. Not only is this dangerous for you, but it’s dangerous for those around you, who will have to get out of the way of a rogue board.
Some additional features that make a surfboard standout
- Material: Often, beginners opt to buy a foam board to start their surfing journey with. Foam boards are much softer, and if you take one on the head it won’t cause anywhere near as much damage as a fiberglass one. Fiberglass or epoxy boards are what most boards are made of, and can still be suitable for beginners if the board is the right shape and size.
- Board thickness: The thicker the board, the easier it is to paddle into a wave. Thicker boards are also more stable once you’re on the wave, making them ideal for beginner surfers.
How much should I pay for my surfboard? – This depends on a number of factors, including the size of the board and whether or not it is new or second-hand. Bigger boards tend to be more expensive, though if you opt for a soft longboard (i.e. made from foam) then it’ll be a little cheaper than a hard longboard. A brand new longboard could cost up to $1,000, but a foam board might be just $2-300.
Is there a particular brand of a board I should buy? – There are a number of great board shapers who generally specialize in a particular type of board. McTavish, for example, makes fantastic longboards, though given their reputation and quality they inevitably cost a little bit more. Plenty of boards made in factories or by little-known shapers can still be excellent to learn on.
Where should I buy a board from? – There are a number of options. The most common of these are surf shops, which will have a fairly wide range of options as well as some expert staff to help you with your decision. You can also look for boards online, and can even find plenty of websites where people sell their own boards second-hand.
What is a ding? – A ding is basically a depression from damage to a board. If you’re purchasing a second-hand board, there will likely be a number of these on the board, as they can come about pretty easily. Generally, they aren’t a problem, but if they’re particularly severe or look as though they will allow water to enter the board, this can have an impact on the board’s performance.
What size board should I buy? – As mentioned, this can depend on whether you have any surf experience, as well as how big you are. In general, though, a board over 8 feet long will be ideal for a beginner, as they are very easy to stand upon. As you progress, you can always buy a shorter board if your first board becomes too long for you.
Many people make it a goal to one day be able to stand up on a surfboard, but it’s very common for that to remain a goal rather than a reality. One of the most important factors in ensuring you don’t fall into this trap is to buy your own board and to buy one which is suitable for you. This guide has helped you do just that by giving a comprehensive breakdown of what you need to think about before you buy your board, as well as providing information about some of the best options for beginners.