Beginner surfboards: learn how to buy your first stable and soft-top surfboard

Beginner surfboards are the key to quick progression and a long surfing life, so it's essential to make a wise and rational choice before riding your initial waves. Here's everything you should know and a guide to the best and most inexpensive models.

Surfboards for beginners have special and unique features you should know before investing.

If you're learning to surf or introducing a friend or relative to the sport of riding waves, you could start by checking our surfboard size chart, which features weight and height options for all participants.

They are the first variables to have in mind.

And they're linked to several board anatomy characteristics. One of the most important ones is flotation - and flotation requires volume.

A good beginner surfboard has high buoyancy, so errors and mistakes surfers make while finding balance are easily "forgiven" or tolerated.

Stringer technology has also been added to increase stiffness and resistance to various impacts, such as wipeouts, traveling, and collisions.

In the end, surf novices must ensure they're getting soft-top surfboards that will help them catch as many waves as possible in the early white water stage.

Beginner surfboard: flotation is key to start riding waves fast | Photo: Loiterton/Creative Commons

Flotation Is Key

So, what makes a good starter surfboard?

Despite being bigger and heavier than traditional shortboards, surfing beginners will paddle faster and rapidly pop up on highly stable longboards.

Yes, quality foam surfboards are always a wise choice and can last forever. They range from 6' to 9' in size.

For instance, an average adult should get into surfing with an 8' or 9', while a child can learn with a 6'.

One thing is certain: the bigger the board, the faster you'll be enjoying the pleasures of wave riding. After all, the more waves you catch, the faster you evolve and progress.

As a rule of thumb, if you're learning to surf, get yourself a board that is three to four feet longer than your height.

For instance, if you're 5'7'', buy a board in the 8'7''-9'7'' range. It's pretty simple and does just fine in the early stages.

Surfboards for beginners are quite affordable, and your first model will always be useful, even after you progress to an intermediate surfing level and start building a quiver.

Here are the main variables you should be looking at when buying a beginner surfboard:

  • Size;
  • Width;
  • Thickness;
  • Volume;
  • Template/Outline;
  • Core materials;
  • Price;

The alternative to the foam surfboard is pop-out surfboards made of molded plastic or very thick resin.

The best soft-top/beginner surfboards for adults and children for the 2024 season are:

Wavestorm 8' Classic Surfboard

Wavestorm 8' Classic Surfboard

Wavestorm 8' is the best-selling surfboard in the United States. It is soft, light, and easy to ride.

The board features an HDPE slick bottom and a textured traction pad for stable foot placement. It comes with a leash and a set of fins and is suitable for riders weighing up to 200 pounds.

  • Length: 8'
  • Width: 22.4''
  • Thickness: 3.25''
  • Volume: 86 liters
  • Weight: 11.5 lbs
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 200 lbs (90 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

South Bay Board Co. | Verve 8'

South Bay Board Co. | Verve 8'

The Verve 8', by South Bay Board Co., is an 8-foot entry-level foam surfboard for riders weighing up to 180 pounds.

The package comes with a traction pad, a travel bag, customization pens, a thruster fin setup, and a leash.

  • Length: 8'
  • Width: 23''
  • Thickness: 3''
  • Volume: 74 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 190 lbs (86 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Thurso Surf Aero 7'

Thurso Surf Aero 7'

The Thurso Surf Aero 7'  is a great choice for first-timers weighing up to 210 pounds.

The soft top EPS foam core, EPO bonding system, and heat-laminated HDPE slick bottom IXPE deck construction ensure a stable platform, while features like double swivels and triple rail saver ankle leash enhance safety.

Features like three wood stringers for superior strength and controlled flex, an adjustable fin box for performance enhancement, and an integrated traction pad for exceptional grip and traction during maneuvers and turns contribute to enhanced performance.

  • Length: 7'
  • Width: 20.5''
  • Thickness: 2.75''
  • Volume: 57 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 210 lbs (95 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Catch Surf Wave Bandit Ben Gravy 7'

Catch Surf Wave Bandit Ben Gravy 7'

The Catch Surf Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Pro signature model is an egg-shaped funboard featuring dual wood stringers and an EPS core made of high-pressure construction.

It provides maximum stiffness and showcases a high-density slick bottom.

  • Length: 7'
  • Width: 22.0''
  • Thickness: 3.125''
  • Volume: 72 liters
  • Weight: 16.9 lbs
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 170 lbs (77 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

South Bay Board Co. | Ruccus 7'

South Bay Board Co. | Ruccus 7'

The Ruccus 7', by South Bay Board Co., is a 7-foot learner surfboard for light apprentices weighing up to 150 pounds.

It features one fiberglass rod stringer and two double-reinforced marine wood stringers and comes with a leash and fins.

  • Length: 7'
  • Width: 22''
  • Thickness: 2.85''
  • Volume: 49 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 170 lbs (77 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

South Bay Board Co. | Heritage 8'8''

South Bay Board Co. | Heritage 8'8''

The Heritage 9', by South Bay Board Co., is an 86-liter surfboard for beginner riders weighing up to 220 pounds.

Features three stringers, waterproof EPS foam at the core, a reinforced HDPE double concave hull, and a removable thruster fin setup.

  • Length: 9'
  • Width: 23''
  • Thickness: 3''
  • Volume: 86 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 220 lbs (100 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Kona Surf Co. 7'6''

Kona Surf Co. 7'6''

The Kona Surf Co. 7'6'' is the perfect beginner surfboard for riders weighing up to 180 pounds.

It features durable and rigid wood stringers, a stiff, high-density EPS core, an outer epoxy shell, an HDPE slick bottom, an adjustable fin box, and a heat laminated deck for maximum cushion.

The pack includes three removable fins with rubber safety edges and a quality ankle leash.

  • Length: 7'6''
  • Width: 22''
  • Thickness: 4''
  • Volume: 80 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 180 lbs (81 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

South Bay Board Co. | Guppy 6'

South Bay Board Co. | Guppy 6'

The Guppy 6', by South Bay Board Co., is the perfect board for young surfers weighing between 50 and 150 pounds.

It features a shape well-adapted to beginners and a heat-laminated IXPE foam top deck, a rounded nose, and a semi-squared out tail for maximum safety, stability, and performance.

  • Length: 6'
  • Width: 21''
  • Thickness: 3''
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 150 lbs (68 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Rock-It 8' Big Softy

Rock-It 8' Big Softy

The Rock-It 8' Big Softy is a highly buoyant, easy-to-paddle soft-top board ideal for first-timers and beginners.

It features three marine wooden stringers coated with epoxy nano-coating to resist water absorption. The EPS foam is UV-resistant and doesn't necessarily require wax.

  • Length: 8'
  • Width: 22.7''
  • Thickness: 3.3''
  • Volume: 81 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 190 lbs (86 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Catch Surf Odysea Log Kids 6'6''

Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer 6'6''

The Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer 6'6'' features a classic fish shape, a double wood stringer core, and a dual-composite core of high-pressure construction.

Its thruster setup will quickly transform a beginner surfer into an intermediate wave rider. It is also an excellent option for young surfers wishing to maximize wave count.

  • Length: 6'6''
  • Width: 22''
  • Thickness: 3.125''
  • Volume: 55 liters
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 154 lbs (70 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Giantex 6'

Giantex 6'


The Giantex 6' was designed to handle first-time mistakes beginners make and features a durable top foam and a slick HDPE bottom.

It's a great starter surfboard for kids and very light novice surfers. It comes with a leash and removable fins.

  • Length: 6'
  • Width: 20''
  • Thickness: 3''
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 100 lbs (45 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider 5'10 Fish

Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider 5'10 Fish

The Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider 5'10 Fish offers a soft, foamy deck with a super-fast bottom and wooden stringers for stiffness.

It's the right choice for a very young child.

  • Length: 5'10
  • Width: 21''
  • Thickness: 2.5''
  • Surfer's Weight Range: up to 95 lbs (43 kgs)

Buy: Amazon.com

Beginner surfboards: surf schools use long and wide surfboards for getting pupils to start surfing fast | Photo: Traa/Creative Commons

Beginner Surfboards: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Foam surfboards for beginners can be fun and extremely helpful. Plus, they allow you to quickly transition from long to shortboards via the so-called funboards.

Here are some of the most popular questions regarding boards for those new to surfing.

Should I get a hard-topped surfboard or a foam surfboard?

It depends on your surfing ability level and personal preference.

Foam surfboards, also known as soft-top surfboards, are a good option for beginner surfers because they are more forgiving and easier to learn due to their softer, more flexible construction.

They are also a good choice for surfers concerned about safety, as they are light enough not to cause injury if they hit someone during a wipeout.

On the other hand, hard-topped surfboards are more durable and generally perform better in more advanced surfing conditions.

They may be more challenging for beginner surfers to learn, but they can offer a more precise and responsive ride for experienced surfers.

Ultimately, deciding between a foam surfboard and a hard-topped surfboard will depend on your personal needs and preferences.

How much does a beginner surfboard typically cost?

Prices for learner foam surfboards can range from around $120 to $1,200, depending on various factors such as size, shape, model, and condition.

In general, spending more than $400 on a surfboard for beginners is unnecessary, and it is often possible to find a suitable board for between $200 and $600.

It is important to remember that the cost of a surfboard is not necessarily an indicator of its quality, and good beginner surfboards are available at a wide range of price points.

What should I consider when choosing a beginner surfboard?

Your current surfing ability level, height and weight, the typical wave conditions in your local area, and budget are all critical factors to consider when choosing a starter surfboard.

  1. Safety: Foam surfboards should be sturdy and easy to handle to minimize the risk of injury during wipeouts. Soft-top surfboards, also known as foam boards, are a good option for beginners because they are softer and more forgiving than traditional hard-topped surfboards;
  2. Size: Beginner surfboards should be longer, thicker, and wider to make them easier to paddle and stand up on. Funboards and longboards are popular choices for beginners because of their size and stability;
  3. Ability level: Consider your current surfing ability level and what type of board will be most suitable for you to learn on. For example, a longboard may be a good choice for someone who is just starting, while a shortboard may be more suitable for someone with more advanced surfing skills;
  4. Local conditions: The type of surfboard that is best for you will also depend on the typical wave conditions in your local area. For example, a longboard may be a good choice if you live in an area with small, slow-breaking waves. If you live in an area with larger, more powerful waves, a shortboard may be more suitable;
  5. Budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on a beginner surfboard and look for options that fit your budget. It is possible to find good learner surfboards at a wide range of price points, from around $120 to $1,200 or more;

What is the proper technique for catching a wave on a beginner surfboard?

Transfer most of your weight to your back foot and aim for the steepest part of the unbroken lip. Once you reach 3/4 of the wave's height, begin to look down.

Turn your upper body back to the beach, use your backhand as a guide (pinky up will help you turn), and allow your hips and legs to follow.

Is it safe for kids to surf on beginner surfboards?

Yes, as long as the surfboard is appropriate for their size and ability level and they are supervised by an adult.

Some beginner surfboards for kids even have removable fins for added safety in bigger waves.

What are some good brands to look for when purchasing a beginner surfboard?

Some popular brands for beginner surfboards include WaveStorm, South Bay, Rock-it, Thurso, Catch Surf, and Kona Surf Co.

Where to buy beginner surfboards?

There are several places where you can buy cheap learner surfboards:

  • Online retailers: Many online retailers, including Amazon, sell starter surfboards. They often have a wide selection of boards available and may offer free shipping or other discounts;
  • Surf shops: Local surf shops are a very good place for first-timers to look for quality foam surfboards. They may have a selection of new and used models available for sale, and the staff can often provide helpful advice and recommendations based on your specific needs;
  • Manufacturer websites: Many surfboard manufacturers have websites where you can buy boards directly from the manufacturer. This can be a good option if you want to support a specific brand or if you want to customize your equipment;
  • Secondhand shops: Thrift stores, consignment shops, and garage sales can be good places to look for used beginner surfboards at a lower price. Keep in mind that used surfboards may not be in the same condition as new ones, and you may need to do some repairs or maintenance before you can use them;


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

The beginner surfboard review has been updated on April 2, 2024.

SurferToday may earn a small commission from affiliate program links in this article - at no additional cost to you. We only review and recommend products that we buy, receive, or select from a carefully curated list.

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