Best Beginner Surfboards
The other people in the ocean and the professionals on TV sure do make surfboarding look easy, don’t they? As many of you know, however, mastering the art of surfboarding takes a lot of practice.
But, owning the right equipment is also going to help quite a lot. This is why if you are just starting out or know someone who is just starting out, you need to buy an appropriate surfboard. You can’t expect to become an expert at the activity if you begin with an elite-level board.
So, clearly, if you are someone who is really, really good at this craft then you will not get much use out of this guide (unless you are buying for someone else). For those looking to get their feet wet, though, saddle in as you have a lot to learn.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 8.75 hrs of research
Two layers of resin add extra toughness
Each board is meticulously inspected beforehand
It comes with a leash and a flexible fin
- THE HERITAGE
- THE VERVE
- BIC PAINT
- THE RAZZO
- WAVESTORM SURFBOARD
- CALIFORNIA BOARD COMPANY
- LIQUID SHREDDER
- LIQUID SHREDDER EPS
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST BEGINNER SURFBOARDS
1. THE HERITAGE
Two layers of resin add extra toughness
Each board is meticulously inspected beforehand
It comes with a leash and a flexible fin
The thickness does take some getting used to
South Bay Board Co. knows a thing or two about designing top-notch beginner surfboards and it shows on this list. Their Heritage is definitely the cream of the crop and you will find out why in a second.Read more
The overall shape of this coupled with the slick and hard HDPE bottom allows it to provide quick turns and overall clean and smooth rides.
First off, this is designed of custom Fingerprint Textured IXPE Foam ensuring that you will never need to wax the top. Also, the triple stinger system is surrounded by custom molded EPS closed cell foam. Oh, and two layers of resin have been added for extra toughness.
The thickness of this board takes some getting used to but the 8-foot-8-inch height is going to be a welcome sight if you are trying to avoid shorter models.
Due to the fact that this comes with a leash and also a flexible fin set up, you will not need to buy many extras with it.
This is offered in a blue (closer to a sky blue) color and, truth be told, you can’t really go wrong with that.
When you take everything into consideration, it is tough to deny that this is the number one model in the world for beginner surfboarders out there.
Ideal for most skill levels
A leash does come included
The construction is very good
Does not handle large waves the best
Remember when it was said that experts would get nothing out of this guide? Well, that was not necessarily true as this model right here is actually quite good for beginners and experienced riders alike.Read more
Though this is not going to handle massive waves the best, its high-density slick bottom does make for quite the stiff and durable ride.
Being crafted with a strong, lightweight, and water-resistant core, this is going to withstand some abuse and keep firing back. For the record, it is made with an EPS core and multiple stringers.
In addition to the fact that this measures eight feet in length, it also sports a 22.5-inch width and is 3.25 inches thick.
Included with your purchase is both a leash and a thruster safety fin set (which can be removed).
Let’s just say that you are not going to be hiding from everyone with this board. It is designed with a bright-yellow coating, after all.
Even beginner models can be a bit pricey but hey, this really is worth the money you will shell out for it. It is well-designed in virtually every way imaginable.
3. THE VERVE
There are several colors to choose from
Features a rounded out nose and tail
Perfect for beginners
It can be difficult to transport
It can bruise easily
The Verge is such a great choice as it performs about as well as any other option on this list. And, even though it does bruise easily, it is also well-made overall.Read more
The double concave on the bottom deck adds to the speed and performance of this model. In addition, this is designed with a rounded out nose and tail for enhanced stability.
Even though this does bruise fairly easily, it is protected with two layers of resin. Additionally, this is also designed of high-density EPS closed cell foam.
The Verge is a bit shorter than the Heritage as it measures eight feet in length. Also, it is 23 inches wide and also three inches thick.
Past the surfboard that you receive with your purchase, you are also provided with three rounded safe edge screws, two leash plug screws, two fin screws, and a leash.
There is actually a pretty strong selection of colors available. Some of them include orange, gray, green and blue. Not a bad selection at all.
Putting your faith in a company such as South Bay Board Co. is never a bad thing. Their Verge is about as good as it gets and could make you fall in love with surfboarding.
4. BIC PAINT
The construction is pretty impressive
The fins are soft for added safety
The style is very appealing
It does not come with a leash
The top lacks much grip at all
Even for advanced riders, this was meant to perform at a high level. Of course, you should know that this option does not come with a leash, which is a bit of an annoyance.Read more
As mentioned, this is not only optimized for beginners but also for more advanced riders. This is thanks to the full-layer hard slick bottom that provides maximum glide and performance.
Despite the fact that the top lacks any real grip whatsoever, this does sport an EPS core that is molded in either composite or wood stringers (it depends on the size you pick).
There are three different sizes that can be selected from. You have lengths of 5-foot-6, 6-foot and 6-foot-6 available.
One reviewer did make mention of the fact that their purchase did not come with a leash. However, what is included are soft fins that add additional safety to the ride.
The graphical design of each of the color options may be the best on the market. Though it may not mean much to you, they really do look “cool”.
The lack of grip on the surface may be enough to scare you away from this option. Then again, it can start as your first board and still be good enough to be used when you get better at the craft.
5. THE RAZZO
No wax is going to be needed
It rips in the water
It is designed of high-density EPS foam
One user noted how no fins came with their purchase
The Razzo is only a six-foot board so take that into consideration. This is also designed with a thruster nose and when you are riding on it, you will notice how well it rips.Read more
The combination of the squash tail, widened chest area and rounded thruster nose makes the Razzo ideal for achieving sharp speeds and also ideal for having a blast.
As with other designs from this manufacturer, no wax will be needed thanks to the FingerPrint Texture Foam Top Deck. Furthermore, this sports high-density EPS closed cell foam and real bamboo with clear resin on the bottom deck.
Again, as mentioned, this is only six feet in length which is noticeably shorter than other models on this list. As for the width and thickness, these measure 20 and 2.5 inches, respectively.
There was actually one user who noted that they never received the fins. Among other accessories such as a leash, this is supposed to come with fins, for the record.
The all-white surface is one that many of you are not going to scoff at as although it is simple and basic, it does look really good.
No matter which surfboard you end up going with from this company (if you do choose one of their options) you should be satisfied. The Razzo is simply another brilliant option.
6. WAVESTORM SURFBOARD
A traction pad is included with your purchase
It is designed with an HDPE slick bottom
It measures eight feet in length
The included leash is not the best
It may be a bit narrower than you will like
You can’t compile a list of the best beginner models without including this bad boy. It remains one of the most popular choices on the market for several reasons.Read more
This is powered, so to speak, by its soft WBS-IXL crosslink top deck and high-density polyethylene slick bottom skin. It remains easy to handle even for novices.
The same crosslink top is very resilient and the soft foam construction is what you expect from models such as this. Oh yeah, and this also sports a three stringer system.
At 8 feet long and 22.5 inches wide, this is sized quite well. Of course, the 3.25-inch thickness is also fairly ideal. The size is just really good overall.
For enhanced stability, a traction pad is included with your purchase. And, even though a leash is also included, it has received some criticism from previous buyers.
The multicolor graphic top is one that many of you are going to find very appealing as it has a definite beach theme going for it.
Sometimes, it is just best to stick with the options that are tried and true and this is one of those cases. You may have to buy a superior leash, though.
7. CALIFORNIA BOARD COMPANY
It comes with an attached traction pad
The tail cap adds additional protection
Designed with an appealing woodgrain graphic
The build quality could be better
Do not be fooled by the photos; this is made of foam and not wood. The woodgrain that you see is merely a graphics and, quite frankly, adds a lot to this design overall.Read more
The combination of the three built-in wood stringers (which add flexibility) and the slick polyethylene hard bottom (which aids in smoothness) makes for optimal performance.
Overall, various reviewers have reported that this does feel a bit cheaply made. The EPS foam core that is present here is just not as good as others out there.
The size of this is pretty conventional (when compared to other options) as it is 22 inches wide, 3.5 inches thick and also seven feet long.
One thing is for sure, not too many people will complain about the included accessories. This is because you receive a PU surf leash, three fins and a traction pad with your purchase.
As noted, this is equipped with a woodgrain graphic that makes it appear as if this is made out of wood. This aesthetic is quite convincing and appealing, quite frankly.
For the price, it is fair if some of you expect a little more quality here. With that said, this is far from poor design as it secured a spot on this list for a reason.
8. LIQUID SHREDDER
It can easily be carried around
It is heat laminated
The soft EPE foam adds comfort
The fins on the back should be more secure
Now, this board is not without its slight flaws but, at the end of the day, it is built with a polypropylene slick bottom and also a deck that is made of high-quality EPE foam.Read more
While the slick and superfast bottom adds to the performance, so do the wooden stringers as they add much-needed stiffness to your ride.
The same bottom is made out of polypropylene, for the record. As for the surface, it is made of soft EPE foam and this adds comfort as well as an anti-slip texture.
As compared to other models on this list, this is a bit shorter and narrower. But, with that said, at seven feet long and 20 inches wide, this is also not pathetically small.
The good news is this comes with fins that can be removed for storage and such. Yet, the fins can, unfortunately, come off accidentally as they are not secured the best.
There are color options for blue, red and yellow. While this selection is not utterly outstanding, it is nice to have a little variety present.
One major problem this has is its insecure fins. Looking past that, though, it can perform with the best beginner designs out there and is built with quality materials.
It is designed with a free leash
Sports a responsive and strong bottom
It is ideal for both adults and children
The build quality could be much improved
In terms of starter models, this may be perfect as it is not too expensive and it can give you an idea of whether you want to become better as a surfer.Read more
First off, the fishtail integrated here provides more hold and traction. Secondly, the slick HDPE high-speed bottom is both strong and responsive during rides.
Most users agree that the quality here could be better. The fins, in particular, are prone to breaking after wipeouts. With that said, this does feature an EPE foam deck and EPS core.
Just know in advance that this is a little small. In fact, it is only six feet in length and 20 inches in width. If you are a bigger individual, this may be too small.
All sorts of accessories come with your purchase such as a free leash and a transaction pad. Oh, and removable fins are also provided for you.
Both of the color options (red and blue and white and blue) are not very subtle, let’s just say that. Neither one may be that appealing to you, quite honestly.
No, this is not optimized to take a beating so it may not be the best option for rough riders out there. Still, it is an excellent starter model at an even better price.
10. LIQUID SHREDDER EPS
Can be used by virtually any skill level
Offers a streamlined performance
The soft EPE adds grip
It does not appear to come with a leash
It is on the smaller side
Even for a beginner model, this board provides a streamlined performance that is sure to impress several of you. Of course, you will need to account for the leash yourself.Read more
As with other beginner surfboards, this is optimized with a slick and superfast bottom as well as wooden stringers (which add stiffness).
This is made up of EPE foam (which is not much of a surprise) and this will add much–needed comfort and grip for your ride.
Yes, this is actually for adults and children. But, it is on the smaller side (six feet in length and 20 inches in width) so do be aware of that.
It does not appear as if this comes with a leash so if you plan on using one, you will need to account for it yourself (which is a bit annoying and unnecessary to have to deal with).
You can either go with red or yellow but no matter which one you end up going with, both of them look good enough.
At this point, you almost know what to expect here. It sports many of the same features that you are accustomed to seeing and really does not reinvent the wheel.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Beginner models are not going to outperform elite models but they can still go.
What you need to know right away is the performance between beginner and advanced surfboards can be astronomical. But, due to the nature of this guide, we are going to discuss what is best to look for (performance-wise) starter models. Now, you will see a lot of models on the market designed of soft foam and a high-density polyethylene bottom. This bottom (also referred to as HDPE) is basically polyethylene plastic resin that is adhered to polyethylene foam. As opposed to harder bottoms that are typically made of fiberglass, this type is ideal for novices as it really allows them to learn how to surf.
Looking past the design of the bottom, you also need to be aware of what the stringer is. In short, this is basically just a piece of wood that will typically be engineered across the middle of the board. In essence, a stringer is going to enhance the physical properties of the board (such as its overall toughness) and it will result in enhanced stiffness (which is important). You will even see some models implement more than one of them for even better performance.
While most models are made of fiberglass, starter models are typically made out of foam.
When it comes to choosing starter models, this section right here is one of the most important ones. It may not seem like it but the materials that are utilized for a specific model can end up dictating how easy or difficult it will be to surf (and how forgiving it will be, quite frankly). For the most part, starting out, you will want to stick with models that are made up of a soft-top (most generally foam). The reason for this is foam is virtually indestructible (though it can still break) and is ideal for stability. In regard to the type of foam, you will often see EPE as the go-to choice. Also known as expanded polyethylene foam, EPE is a closed-cell and semi-rigid foam that is flexible, strong, lightweight, and non-abrasive.
Okay, so what should you stay away from, you may ask? The primary choice for surfboards, in a general sense, will be those made out of fiberglass. Down the road, you can get yourself a fiberglass board as they do offer more control. But, for now, while you are just starting out, you may want to avoid them.
Do yourself a favor and do not overlook this section as it is as important as any other.
Would you be surprised to know that the size of your surfboard is as important a factor as any? It is something that you can’t afford to ignore as it can change your entire experience. And, even though choosing the right size and model comes down to more than just the physical dimensions, the dimensions themselves will play a role. Starting with the length, optimally, you should aim for a board that is roughly two to three feet taller than you. It is simple; the shorter the board, the harder the paddle is going to be and it will be harder to remain stable. As for the width and the thickness, these are important considerations too. Most beginner models will be right around 20 to 23 inches wide and 3 inches thick, for the record.
As mentioned, though, it is not all about the dimensions. You see, you also need to take volume into consideration. This will dictate how buoyant a specific board will be but from user to user, this is going to differ. The reason for this is several dynamic variables need to be factored in such as your weight, age, and fitness level. Thankfully, you can access online volume calculators to ensure you find your perfect match.
This section is all about the additional items that can come with your purchase.
What you can’t afford to do is to simply assume that the surfboard you want is going to come with all the accessories that you need or desire. From seller to seller, different accessories may be included so pay attention to them. However, what are some common accessories that you can and should look out for? Well, for starters, how about a leash? This is basically just a urethane cord that is attached to the tail of the board. Typically with the use of a Velcro strap, you can then wear the cord around your ankle. As for the purpose, this will keep the board close to you when you fall off of it and wipeout.
Past the leash, fins are also really important. These can alter the performance as they can increase the control you are provided with and also enhance the speed. And, some models will come with removable ones for easier storage and transport. Oh, and you may be interested in something called a traction pad. This little device is designed to be stuck on the tail of the board. With this integrated, your back foot will not be allowed to slide off. In essence, it is another way for you to remain stable during your ride.
Hey, this is not the most important section but it can still hold some relevance.
Really, this is all up to you but this section has a bit more to it than you may initially realize. For starters, most models available will be designed with bright and highly visible colors. Part of the reason why this can be effective is if your leash broke and your board was floating around in the water, it could be seen much easier if it were bright. Looking at it in a different direction, what about sharks? If you plan to surf in the ocean then you always need to be wary of a shark coming out of nowhere to bite your face off, right? All joking aside, there are a number of theories out there in regard to what colors sharks are most attracted by (with yellow being the most prominent). In general, everyone seems to agree that they are simply attracted more by high-contrast colors as they can see them better.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
A perfect analogy to explain what your expectations need to be here is would you expect the performance of a Dodge Viper from an old beater car? Of course, you wouldn’t so that means you should also not expect the performance of an elite-level board here. Now, that also does not mean that the beginner model you buy will be incapable of performing.
One of the easiest ways to make the distinction between a beginner and elite-level board is by looking at the utilized materials. In this case, you will see many models made out of some sort of foam (typically EPE) and that really is the way to go. Down the road, you can then opt for models that utilize higher-end materials such as fiberglass. But, for now, stick to the basics.
With certain products, size is going to be everything. And, for surfboards, that cliché could not be any more spot-on. Of course, even though the physical dimensions are certainly important to take into consideration, this also comes down to other factors. Take your time with this section as you need to get it right. After all, choosing an improper board size can totally affect the entire surfing experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do they need to be waxed?
The question of whether or not your model is going to need to be waxed is going to depend solely on the model itself. After all, not every single board out there will need wax to function. Then again, what is the point of waxing, in the first place? It is really quite simple as adding a layer of wax on the surface of the board can add much-needed grip for your feet. The reality is some boards are super slick and will need to be waxed to prevent yourself from falling off it every five seconds.
q: Does surfing require a high level of fitness?
When you get down to the logistics of this question, it can actually be pretty difficult to answer. If you look at it from one lens, you can surf without having an elite fitness level. However, through another lens, it also may be easier for you to surf if you are somewhat of an athlete. To make an argument for the latter, you may find the transition to surfing much easier if you currently enjoy skateboarding or snowboarding (as the same general principle applies). Yet, at the same time, this is going to take practice anyway and the more you practice it, the better you will be at it (much like anything else).
q: Why do foam boards struggle on bigger waves?
A painful reality you may face is that beginner surfboards that are made out of foam are not going to handle larger waves very well. It is actually really simple to why that is. You see, these types of boards favor stability over aerodynamics and they often heavily sacrifice their aerodynamics. What this leads to are boards that can’t hold up to the pressure of the larger waves. Of course, considering the fact you are just learning surfboarding, you should not be worried about attacking those larger waves anyway.
q: How soon will you be able to ride large waves?
Well, as you already know, the types of models talked about today are not exactly ideal for riding larger waves. However, it is safe to say that your end goal is going to be getting yourself to the point where you can safely and efficiently ride on larger waves. After all, they can sure be a blast once you master them. In regard to when you will be ready to make the leap (and this will be discussed further here in a second), it all comes down to your comfortability. As a matter of fact, you can attempt to ride on larger waves with foam boards just to get a feel for it. Just know that it can take years of practice to get to the level where you can comfortably ride on larger waves.
q: What does a concave design do for a board?
Throughout your search, you come across the term “concave”. In reference to what it means in this sense, we really need to clarify what a double concave design is (as it is a step above a single concave design). With a board that sports this type of design, the water will be channeled into two streams throughout the tail and the fins. Not only does this result in faster rides and a looser feel but it also reduces the tracking of a single concave.
q: How do you know when you are ready to move on?
Alright, so when can you take the training wheels off, so to speak? Instead of rambling off pointless rhetoric that you do not need to hear, here is a brief overview of the things that you need to master (or at least be really good at) in order for you to take the next step in your surfboarding career. You should be able to know how to catch both the backside and frontside of waves, catch small whitewater waves with ease, turn, bottom turn, and cut back, and also be able to remain steady on your pop-ups. Boy, you have a long way to go, don’t’ you?
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