How to Choose Your Your First Surfboard – Tips From the Experts

If you’re thinking about picking up surfing, you’re going to want a surfboard. Here is a guide to buying your first surfboard.

If you’re new to surfing and you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a surfboard, the following will help guide your way through this fun and exciting process. First, you have to be honest with your skill level. If you’ve only been a spectator and have never surfed before, it may look easy when you’re watching other surfers out in the lineup catching waves with such ease and grace. It may look really cool ripping the waves up on a shortboard. Don’t buy into it just yet because it wouldn’t look cool if you’re out there on a shortboard not catching any waves and falling all over the place. Yes, you may be an expert snowboarder, you may spend summers wake boarding at the lake or you have humongous lat muscles. It does not translate. Not yet at least. Learning to paddle a surfboard is like learning to walk for the first time. You have to build those muscles that your body rarely uses and until you do, it can be a long and painful struggle. For this reason, your best bet is to go with one of the following surfboards.


Learning to paddle and the basic mechanics of surfing is your first priority. For that, you need as much stability and float as you can get. A good rule of thumb is to go with a longboard that is at least 24 to 36 inches taller than your height, at least 19 inches in width and at least 2 1/2 inch thick. We recommend going with a board at least 3 feet taller but if you’re looking for something less cumbersome, a minimum of 2 feet taller could suffice. Children are also lighter so a board with smaller dimensions of around 12 to 18 inches taller is recommended. Longboards are great for paddling with ease and gliding. It will allow you to catch waves earlier and standing up with much more stability than its shortboard counterpart. We recommend going with a longboard that has 3 fins or a 2 plus 1 fin setup (two small outside fins and a big center fin).


A Mini-Mal is a shorter version of the longboard. The name is short for Mini Malibu but also sometimes called a Funboard. It typically ranges from 7’0″ to 8’6″. We recommend going with the bigger version of this for more stability. If you’re absolutely determined to surf and you know you’re going to stick to it, the mini-mal would be a good bet. You may want to go with a shorter board after getting acclimated to surfing on a longboard within a few months or so. I would also recommend this board if you’re young, light, athletic and you can pick up on water sports quickly. If you’re smaller in size, then you might also want a mini-mal because carrying around a longboard is much more cumbersome and maneuvering the board in the water can also be more awkward.

Soft-Top Surfboards

A soft top board is usually in the shape of a longboard or a mini-mal that consist of a softer spongier material rather than a hard fiberglass. It is very common for beginners to learn on a soft top surfboard. It’s only a matter of time before you get hit with your board. Although they lack the performance characteristic of traditional fiberglass boards, they are the safest surfboards for a beginner. The spongy tops are similar to those of a boogie board. Often times the fins are soft and flexible to prevent you from getting sliced up. If you’re not worried about a few bumps and bruises, then I would recommend buying a hard top surfboard for better performance. Once your surf skills have advanced, you’ll want to upgrade your soft top.

Used Surfboards

You may prefer to buy a used surfboard over buying a new one if the price makes sense. You will most likely beat up your first surfboard. Everyone does. A brand new longboard can easily cost you $800 and up. You may be able to spend half that amount on a used board that is in fairly good condition. It’s unlikely to happen but if you end up hating surfing and giving up, the used board is a better economical choice.