Wave Riders: The 7 Best Surfboards for Beginners

Odds are pretty high that unless you’re fortunate enough to live in Malibu or Oahu, then everything you know about surfing comes from that time you watched Point Break. Well, brah, it’s not too late to learn and to find the peaceful joy and utter terror that comes from dropping into the pocket of a high and beautiful wave. You just need the right equipment and a couple of lessons to quickly move from a Barney to a regular beachcomber. We can’t help with the lessons, but we’ve got beginner surfboards covered.

When choosing a starting board, the two things we suggest are to buy used and buy big. You’re going to abuse it, so get something that’s already dinged up. Then aim for longer (9′ or so), wider, thicker (3″+) boards. They’re easier to paddle and easier to ride once you drop in. You might also kick off with a “foamie,” or soft surfboard which don’t hurt when they hit. Don’t sweat much over options such as fins, shape, tail, and the rockers. They don’t matter at first. Just remember: Bigger is better, or simply pick from the 7 best surfboards for beginners.



Pro: Soft padding with good traction
Con: Not made for experienced surfers

Entry Level: The Wavestorm line of surfboards have become hugely popular in the oceans of late, with good reason. They are a true surfboard for beginners. Rather than buying a used board, you can get one of these lovely foamies for a song and a little dance. Despite the low cost they come fully equipped with a EPS core and three stringer system with an HDPE slick bottom skin that moves well over the water. They come in a wide range of sizes, but starting off with an 8-footer will give the biggest landlubber a lot of real estate for an easy pop-up. Able to handle users up to 200 lbs. they’re the way to start your quiver and learn the ropes. [Purchase: $180]

Boardworks Nurf

Boardworks Nurf!

Pro: Highly durable
Con: Simple, homely design

Soft and Strong: This runs in the same vein as the Wavestorms but gives you a little more true surfing ability and an enhanced true-to-life longboard feel. On the outside is a squishy soft EVA-foam surface that gives you grip without ever needing a coat of wax. Inside is a solid epoxy core that won’t pick up water the way that cheaper soft boards will. This stiff upper lip construction allows you to grow further with the board and makes the jump to a regular longboard a cinch to accomplish. True, they’re going to be one of the ugliest babes on the beach, but when you see how long-lasting and durable they are, you’ll realize you have a beater fun-board to last you for years. Comes in 6′ through 8′ models. [Purchase: $299+]

BIC Sport DURA-TEC Wahine

BIC Sport DURA-TEC Wahine

Pro: Good for early and intermediate surfers
Con: Hard casing hurts if it hits you

Survivor: Bic impressed us with their stand up paddleboards and the Wahine shows the same level of quality and moxy that we’d come to expect. These aren’t a soft board, so be careful on your wipeouts, but they can take more punishment than most true fiberglass surfboards. Inside is polyurethane foam wrapped up in a polyethylene shell that takes a whole lot of dings before it needs to be repaired, which saves you cash and headaches as you learn. Between slightly over 7 feet and 8 feet long, even beanpoles won’t lack for a suitable size that can float them along. Complete with a 3-D traction pad on the back end, you’ll stick every landing. Good news, since kissing this board will loosen teeth. [Purchase: $360]

Modern Blackfish

Modern Blackfish

Pro: Built for speed and maneuverability
Con: Requires practice to control

Something Fishy: Every other board on this list is either a true longboard, or dreams of one day becoming one. The Blackfish is a fish board for the maturing newbie who is looking for a challenge, or to expand their quiver with something that offers more control when doing battle with the gods of the sea. Paddling is simple since the wide part has been shifted back while the split-tail makeup gives improved bite in steeper conditions and on bigger waves. Volume and depth through the chest offer lots of stability whether riding high or paddling out. A balanced rocker gives you good acceleration for hopping into the pipe early and then moving through turns with impressive speed. 6′ to 7’4″ in size, there’s little room for error. [Purchase: $475]

Firewire Dominator

Firewire Dominator

Pro: Can adjust to a variety of conditions
Con: Short for a beginner surfboard

One to Grow On: Made by Dan Mann, the Dominator is probably one of the best picks for thoseĀ who have the time and energy to really make this a serious hobby. They’re a little shorter than many novice longboards and use a slightly more aggressive nose for greater speed. That isn’t to say the Dominator is a wilting lily. It still gives you a big, wide center and lots of surface area to land a pop-up. Paddling feels natural thanks to the curve of the board and you can slice through the water quickly to catch elusive waves. On the tail is a 5/4/3 fin design that lets you change how you use the board or alter it depending on wind and water conditions. An investment in a long surfing career that you’ll pull out even years from now. [Purchase: $500+]

Liquid Shredder HD

Liquid Shredder HD

Pro: Lightweight
Con: Does not work with larger waves

Flat Rider: Made in Peru, the Shredder HD isn’t made for tackling big waves, but if you’re a beginner, you aren’t either. The 10 foot body is intended to make paddling simpler, allow larger users to get into the surf with it, and flatwater or low-wave aficionados an option for those lazy days. Soft vinyl covers the exterior for a grippable surface that provides some protection against concussive wipeouts or gruesome spills. At 25″ wide and more than 3″ thick, riders as big as 240 lbs. will be able to make this work without modification. Despite the size, the board only weighs in at about 18 lbs. for easy transport and handling. [Purchase: $555]



Pro: Flexible build
Con: Expensive for a beginner’s surfboard

Eco-Warrior: Trying to find a good surfboard that makes any strides toward green technology and sustainability is difficult in the extreme. While the Crossfire isn’t yet perfectly planet-conscious, it takes steps in the right direction. They minimize their carbon footprint and reduce toxicity in the production process. Besides that, the sustainably built wooden deck skins and EPS core make this a highly flexible board that can work with waves for more control and better speed than you’ll find from their stiffer counterparts. Beginning at 8 feet and climbing from there, these are not just for the beginner, but for longboarders of any skill level. Minimal chatter while in motion gives solid stability for an easier landing and enhanced control. [Purchase: $910]

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