Beginners Board Guide


The surfboard is the most essential piece of surfing equipment – It doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. However knowing what board is right for you is not as straight forward.

Most beginner surfers tend to be drawn towards the shorter, sexier, more modern surfboards, but these are not practical when you’re learning to surf. The best board for most beginners is something big, thick, and stable. A longer board with thicker rails is usually recommended for stability and floatation. You may not look as cool but it’s going to make learning to surf and catching a wave much easier.


You can learn to surf on whatever board you like but some surfboards are more suited than others. If you’ve had a couple of surf lessons already you will know that the best board to learn with is a softboard, sometimes called a foamboard or foamie.

These boards, generally shaped like a longboard or funboard, are ideal for beginners because they are made from soft foam not hard polyester or epoxy resin. This means they float better and are considered safer than hardboards. For this reason many surf schools use them.

However, a softboard may be great for your first surf lesson but they’re probably not the best board to be buying an adult who will be surfing regularly. Most people grow out of these boards rather quickly making them not the best buy.



Longboards are 9ft or longer, wide and thick, making them easy to paddle and catch waves.

The longboard, also known as a Malibu or Mal is stable and easy to ride, but can be heavy and hard work to get through the surf.


This is a shorter version of the longboard – hence the name mini-mal. Ranging from 7 to 9ft, they’re suitable for beginners and are not too heavy or hard to handle.

For most beginners, a mini-mal or similar will provide a good compromise between stability and manoeuvrability, since it’s wide and stable, but it’s not too heavy.


Shortboards are fast, short, and easy to turn, but require experience to ride one. They are more difficult to catch a wave and harder to balance and stay up on.

Rent or Buy?

It often best that you rent a surfboard until you are sure that you are going to like surfing and stick at it. Try out different boards and find out what works for you. A second hand board is more than adequate in the early stages of surfing.