How to Choose a Surfboard

What’s up, fellow wave riders? Choosing a surfboard can feel like one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever make in your surfing career. With so many shapes, sizes, materials, and styles to choose from, the process can be completely overwhelming. But, worry not, aspiring surfers! We’re here to help you take the guesswork out of choosing the perfect board for your experience level, wave type, and surfing style.

How to Choose a Surfboard

Choosing the right surfboard is crucial to your success in the water. One important factor to consider is your skill level. A beginner should choose a larger board, such as a longboard, which provides stability and ease of use. Intermediate surfers can opt for a smaller board with more maneuverability, such as a funboard or fish. Advanced surfers may choose a smaller board such as a shortboard, which allows for fast turns and aerial maneuvers.

Another key factor to consider is the wave type you’ll be riding. If you’re consistently surfing small, slow waves, a board with more volume may be optimal. If you’re surfing bigger, faster waves, a board with less volume and a narrower tail may provide better control. Shape and materials also play a role in board performance. Different shapes, such as a rounded nose or square tail, can affect stability and maneuverability. Material options include foam

How to Choose a Surfboard

Choosing the perfect surfboard can be an incredibly daunting task if you don’t know what you’re looking for. With so many different shapes, sizes, materials, and styles available, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of options. But, don’t worry, we’re here to help you get on the right track and put some newfound confidence in your selection.

First Things First: Assess Your Skill Level

The first factor to consider when choosing a surfboard is your skill level. A general rule of thumb is that a beginner surfer should choose a larger board that provides stability and ease of use, whereas an experienced surfer can handle a smaller board with more maneuverability.

If you’re just starting out, consider purchasing a longboard. These boards are usually around 9 feet and provide the surfer with plenty of flotation. They are also great for catching small waves, giving you a chance to learn the basics without struggling with balance.

For intermediate surfers, a funboard or fish can be an excellent choice. These boards are shorter than a longboard, but still provide enough flotation for easy paddling. Because they’re smaller, intermediate surfers can start to work on important skills like turning and trimming.

Advanced surfers, on the other hand, may prefer a smaller board such as a shortboard. These boards are usually between 5 and 7 feet long and are designed for high-performance surfing. They allow for fast turns, aerial maneuvers, and a lot of control in the wave.

Take Wave Type into Account

Another crucial factor to consider is the type of wave you’ll be surfing most often. Different types of waves require different types of surfboards. For example, if you’re typically surfing slow, small waves, a board with more volume may be optimal. This added volume will help you catch the wave easier and with more stability.

On the other hand, if you’re surfing fast, steep waves, a board with less volume and a narrower tail may provide better handling and control.

Consider the Board’s Shape and Materials

The shape of your surfboard can also have a significant impact on performance. Different shapes can affect stability, maneuverability, and paddle speed. Here are some common surfboard shapes and their benefits:

  • Rounded Nose: A rounded nose provides more stability and is better suited for bigger waves.
  • Pintail: A pintail offers more control and is ideal for larger waves.
  • Square Tail: A square tail offers increased maneuverability and is good for smaller waves.
  • Round Tail: A round tail provides a smoother ride and is more versatile, suited for waves of all sizes.

Materials also affect board performance. Most traditional surfboards are made from polyurethane foam and fiberglass. However, newer board materials are available like epoxy, which is known for its durability, and carbon fiber, which adds stiffness and lightness. So, if you’re looking for something different and have a higher budget, consider purchasing a board made with these materials.

Where to Find the Perfect Board: Buying New or Used

Now that you know what to look for in a surfboard, it’s time to start shopping. When it comes to buying a new surfboard, your local surf shop is a great place to start. You’ll be able to speak with experts and get help finding the perfect board for you. Additionally, a shop will ensure you get a brand new board with proper factory quality control.

If a new board is out of your price range, consider looking for used surfboards for sale. Used surfboards will always be less expensive than a new board, but just like a used car, it’s important to inspect it carefully. Look for dings, cracks, and any other signs of damage. Additionally, a used board will have signs of wear and tear. It’s up to you to ask the seller about its history and make sure it still rides well.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right surfboard for you can initially feel like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it’s a fun process that will put you on your way to some exciting sea experiences. Remember, the right surfboard should be based on your individual skill level, wave type, and personal preference. Take the time to find the right board for you so that you can enjoy those long rides and stay safe in the water.

Think About Your Preferred Surfing Style

Do you tend to ride with a laid-back and cruisy style, or do you surf aggressively with lots of quick turns and tricks? Your surfing style should definitely play a role in your surfboard selection. If spending your time leisurely paddling around and waiting for the right wave is how you like to surf, then a longboard, egg or hybrid board might be your best bet. These boards provide stability, cruise well, and are great for more relaxed wave riding.

If you prefer a more high-octane experience, you should consider purchasing a shortboard, fish or thruster. These boards are more maneuverable and allow for tighter turns, giving you the ability to execute advanced maneuvers like sharp cutbacks and aerials. However, these boards do have a steeper learning curve, requiring you to have more experience and skill to use them properly.

Don’t Be Afraid to Test Different Boards

The best way to get hands-on experience in selecting a surfboard that works for you is to test as many different boards as you can. This will allow you to get a personal feel for different shapes, constructions, and sizes. Testing out different boards will also let you identify any unique features that you may need or miss on your current board.

You can rent boards for testing from your local shop or borrow from friends before committing to a purchase. Evaluating a few different types of boards over a period of time can also help give you an idea of what age of board will work best for the location where you plan to be surfing.

Consider Custom Boards

If you are searching for a surfboard that is tailor-made to your exact specifications, you can always consider a custom board. Custom boards are shaped to your exact measurements and will take into account your surfing style, your preference for waves, and the general conditions of your local surf spot.

It’s worth noting though that a custom board comes at a premium price tag, so they’re not for everyone. You may want to test a range of boards and styles before opting for a custom board to ensure you’re making the best choice for your needs.


Choosing the right surfboard may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an essential part of maximizing your time in the waves. Assessing your skill level, taking wave type into consideration, considering board shape and materials, and finding the perfect board for your style are all critical for a successful and enjoyable surfing experience. And with the help of your local surf shop, or even a custom board maker, you’ll quickly turn this decision from a daunting into a fun and exciting task.

Remember, surfing is an incredible sport that is customized to individual experiences. What works for one surfer might not work for another. So take your time, do your research, and have fun selecting the perfect surfboard to ride those waves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the right surfboard can be a complicated process. Here, we answer some common questions to help you make an informed decision.

What’s the difference between a longboard and a shortboard?

Longboards are larger and thicker and provide more stability and control, making them a great choice for beginners. Shortboards, on the other hand, are smaller and thinner and are designed for high-performance surfing. They’re a better choice for experienced surfers who want to execute advanced maneuvers such as sharp cutbacks and aerials.

What is a funboard?

A funboard is a hybrid surfboard that combines the stability of a longboard with the maneuverability of a shortboard. These boards are ideal for intermediate surfers who want to improve their skills without sacrificing stability.

What is the best board for small waves?

If you’re consistently surfing small, slow waves, a board with more volume may be the best option. A longboard or fish board can be optimal for these conditions, providing the surfer with additional buoyancy and stability.

What is the best board for big waves?

For bigger, faster waves, you may opt for a board with less volume and a narrower tail. The reduced volume allows for better control and handling. A board with a pintail or rounded tail can be a great choice for these waves.

Can I learn to surf on a shortboard?

While it’s technically possible to learn on a shortboard, it’s not recommended. Shortboards are designed for experienced surfers who have already developed their skills. Beginning surfers should select longer boards to provide stability and control.

What surfboard size is best for a beginner?

Beginner surfers should consider purchasing a longboard, egg or hybrid board that provides stability and security. A board that’s at least 9 feet in length is a great option to learn how to surf.

What kind of surfboard should I use for surfing fast beach breaks?

A shortboard can be a great option for surfing fast beach breaks. These boards are designed for high-performance surfing and can provide speed and maneuverability in these conditions.

What size surfboard should I get if I weigh more than 200 pounds?

If you weigh more than 200 pounds, consider selecting a board that is longer, wider and thicker than the recommended sizes. These larger boards have more volume and are better suited for heavier surfers.

What is the best board for long rides?

A longboard or hybrid board is generally the best choice for longer rides. These boards are designed for stability, speed, and ease of use, which makes long rides less demanding as you enjoy the surf.

What is a thruster surfboard?

A thruster surfboard is a type of surfboard that has three fins. The setup provides the board with a good balance between speed, maneuverability, and predictability. It’s a popular choice that suits many different kinds of waves.

Can I purchase a used surfboard?