One of the biggest mistakes a beginner surfer can make is to buy the wrong surfboard. Yes, I know that many aren’t keen to buy ‘beginner surfboards’ and instead go for cool-looking boards that are directed at advanced surfers. But the truth is that you are going to suck at surfing in the beginning and maybe for some time depending on your progress. And getting the wrong surfboard is going to make it more difficult for you to learn the basics of the sport.
If you care a lot about aesthetics, fret not. There are a lot of cool-looking beginner boards on the market. But aesthetics aren’t the most important thing when looking for a beginner board. The most important thing is the length as beginner boards should be over 8 ft long to make paddling and balancing easier for you. Check out my article on the different types of surfboards.
Beginner boards should also have a soft top or deck to minimize accidents in the water. You are going to get knocked off your board a lot as a beginner and there is the risk of getting hit by your surfboard. A soft top board presents fewer risks compared to a hard surfboard.
I’ve created this easy guide to help you see clearly what aspects you need to consider when choosing your surfboard. Here we go.
What Size Surfboard Should a Beginner Get?
Surfing newbies should get surfboards that are between 8 ft or 9 ft long. These types of boards fall in the realm of longboards (usually 9ft and above) and fun/hybrid boards. You may have watched professional surfing events and saw the surfers sporting short boards (usually about 6 ft), taking on large waves with ease, and making surfing seem like the easiest sport in the world. But you want the opposite of that as a beginner.
Beginner surfers should start on small and weak waves and longer boards are more equipped to deal with these types of waves. Also, longer boards make it easier for beginners to paddle and balance. Longboards also offer lots of buoyancy which makes it easier to catch waves and progress faster. A typical surfboard in the 8-to-9-foot range will be around 22-24 inches wide which is the perfect general size for beginners.
What Surfboard Construction is Best for Beginners? Soft Top vs. Hard Top Boards
When it comes to surfboard construction, we have soft-top boards (also called foamie boards) and hard-top boards (made of fiberglass). And beginner surfers should always go for soft-top boards. Everytime. Why? This is because soft-top boards are user-friendly, very stable, and very easy to paddle. Also, soft-top boards don’t require regular waxing like hard-top boards.
You are going to wipe out a lot when learning to surf and chances are you might get hit by your board or lose control of your board in which case you’ll be putting other surfers at risk. A soft-top board significantly minimizes the risk of injuries compared to a hard-top board.
Hard-top boards are also more likely to break than soft-top boards. Yes, they may seem like sturdy chunks of glass and wood but the truth is that they are fragile. Soft-top boards, on the other hand, can take a beating making them ideal for newbies.
What Nose Shape is Best for Beginners?
Beginners should pay attention to the nose shape of their boards. Surfboards may have pointed nose, round nose, or rounded point nose. The best nose type for beginners is the round nose which is the widest type thereby providing more surface area. And the effect of this is increased stability and buoyancy of the board which makes surfing easier for beginners.
Most beginner boards (longboards and some funboards) usually sports a round nose. But you should still check to ensure you are buying the right board.
Should a Beginner Get a Used Surfboard?
Ideally, a beginner shouldn’t get a used surfboard. But you may be on a tight budget and decide to save costs by going for a used board. Good news is that you may find some sweet boards on Craigslist and other similar used markets. However, you should inspect the board to ensure it’s in good condition and that the construction and dimensions should be suitable for a beginner.
Find out how much a new board costs so you don’t get ripped off.
Kid Beginner vs. Adult Beginner
Kids can start learning to surf as young as 5 years if they are confident in the water and eager to learn new things. Safety should be the highest priority when teaching kids how to surf and it’s important that the surfing destination has CPR-certified guides. Boards for children will be smaller than those for adults (usually about 5″ 5′) because of their smaller size.
Note that children that are 6 years old and younger should be started on a bodyboard while those between 6 – 12 can use a small soft-top board. While those that are 13 and above can use a proper board.
How Much Can You Expect to Spend?
A new beginner board may cost a little above $400 while used boards may be under $300 or $200. Usually, fins and leashes come with new surfboards. If you are buying a used board and not given these accessories, you should put this into consideration when negotiating.
Beginner boards, especially the soft-top models, don’t require regular waxing but you’ll still have to wax them nevertheless. A bar of wax costs about $2 and you’ll need a couple of them if you surf regularly. For a complete breakdown of the total expenses that come with surfing, check out our articles – How much does surfing cost? | How much do surfboards cost?
One of the few shortcuts you can take to increase how fast your progress at surfing is to use the right board. You may outgrow your beginner board later on depending on your level of progress but the extreme durability of beginner boards means you’ll always have a spare board. You can use your beginner board on small days, use it to teach your kids or friends’ kids surfing.