As an ancient Hawaiian pastime, surfing served as a meditative and stress-free activity that allowed the Hawaiian people an opportunity to connect with the surrounding ocean and each other. Since then, the sport of surfing has taken off, reaching far-flung corners of our world. Today, where there’s a wave, there’s more than likely a salty dog surfer eyeballing it or preparing to paddle out. And just how surfing has come all this way over centuries, so have the mediums through which surfers ride this aquatic energy.
Initially, surfboards were carved out of wood harvested from the native Wili Wili, Ula, or Koa trees and these would range in size anywhere from 10-16 feet in length when completed. Clearly, these boards could weigh upwards of 100 pounds, which is crazy to think about when considering the lightweight options we have today. And while we’re on the subject, yes purchasing a board in this day and age can be overwhelming, for there are almost as many types of surfboards and shapers these days as waves themselves. But if you’re looking for the best, we’ve gone ahead and broken things down for you a bit depending on wants and needs. Keep in mind, these aren’t beginner boards. They’re just some of the many options that make up the best shapes and shapers in the business. We clearly didn’t hit them all, but this list of the 12 best surfboards should certainly get you started in your search for the perfect board.
For The Local Hotdogging Pro
Ariels, backflips, carves, crazy off-the-top snaps, and speed. Odds are if witness a progressive maneuver in the world of surfing it has taken place on a shortboard. They’re the most lightweight, high-performance, and ridden boards today. From your local break to the North Shore, they’re everywhere and constantly evolving.
A favorite among many of the pros, this versatile board gets the job done in conditions as small as 2ft but comes alive in overhead juicy surf. It’s all thanks to a single concave throughout that adds speed and lift to the board, continuous rocker for a loose feel, and a pulled-in tail for extra bite on those harsh turns. Pepper the fact that Michel Bourez won the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters on the Firewire version of this board and it practically sells itself.
Channel Islands Fever
From California powerhouse Channel Islands, born out of Santa Barbara back in 1969, comes a contagious shape built out for elevated levels of speed and performance. And with a parallel outline, large sweet spot thanks to the single concave bottom and low rocker, this board gets the job done in all sorts of wave types and conditions.
Rusty Yes, Thanks
Rusty Surfboards finally took their patrons to heart with this model, based off of what we can only assume would be anyone’s response when offered this board. It’s a bit of a wider option but remains performance-centric at its core, making it an ideal ride from summertime slop to pumping overhead surf. It comes complete with a deep single concave that splits into a double through the fins and off the tail for additional speed and is available with either FCS or Future fins.
JS Industries HiFi Monsta Box
Here’s one of the most well-received shapes from JS Industries, which is saying a lot considering their reputation already. It’s a cross between their Monsta 6 and Blak Box 2, resulting in an outline that equates to easy paddling and speed generation while remaining as responsive as ever.
Whether you’re an old guy or an OG, or perhaps interested in a little Malibu cruise control from time-to-time, the longboard is a reliable option for those looking for relaxation over high-performance. And in all fairness, they were here first, so respect is in order here, as it should be paid out in the water as well.
T. Patterson California Classic
With a classic single fin on an iconic board shaped in Southern California, it doesn’t get anymore throwback beach-blanket surf scene than this. Piggybacking on the resurgence of logging within the surfing community, the outline on this board allows for excellent balance and a central volume generates magnificent momentum in the water, easing you into the surf.
Degree 33 Analog
What’s lost among a lot of the modern surfboards is the time and effort that goes into hand-shaping each one. Today, many a surfboard are machine cut then hand-finished, removing the surfer-to-surfer element that makes these boards so special. Not Degree 33. Each board here is both hand-shaped and hand-finished, complete with a single to rolled belly concave to a V out the back of the tail for enhanced speed on the wave face. An heirloom board no doubt.
What’s longboarding without a bit of nose riding? Well, if toes-on-the-nose is your forte, here’s an option that will get you there. Featuring a full curvy outline, a classic V bottom through the tail, rounded pin, and a single concave bottom, both beginners and advanced riders can have a blast on this sleekly-designed board built to last through many a season.
Robert August Wingnut II Pro
Two names practically ever surfer knows, Robert August and Robert
‘Wingnut” Weaver are names synonymous with the surfer’s dream, chasing the summer around the world in search of perfect waves. And in terms of the shape here, a pulled tail, and softer rails make this board one of the more high-performance longboards allowing for smooth turns, cutbacks, and nose riding no matter where your travels may lead.
Buoyancy With Performance
Functioning as a cross between a more buoyant, bigger board but with the performance value of a shortboard, hybrids can be used in all sorts of conditions (though they’re typically reserved for your more laid-back summer breaks).
Based off the traditional “fish” shape, this swallowtail board hosts all the makings of your ideal small wave summer board but with the performance stats to keep things interesting out in the water. This beauty has a single concave bottom to a deep double barrel concave at the back of the tail. These features, paired with a five fin setup, allow for a range of possibilities for the curious rider.
Complete with a more retro shape paired with a modern rocker, the ultra-fun Fling is a proper throwback style board without all the unnecessary flair. The complete shape is a wide and fish-like outline, with a single to double concave concluding with a V off the diamond tail, and rides crazy fast down the line with plenty of lift. All while remaining smooth through each and every turn.
Lost Puddle Jumper
Outfitted specifically for those looking to take full advantage of those smaller summer waves, the Puddle Jumper positions itself in a way that makes any form of high octane carves and gouges to above-the-lip surfing a breeze. It’s all thanks to a wide outline, a concave bottom that transitions to a V in the tail, and a Hexzylon Fiber Foam Skin that’s even ding resistant.
Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto
This fantastic and unique offering from Australia-based Haydenshapes is currently one the highest demand boards in the world. Why? Because, thanks to a high amount of volume under the chest, a wide nose, and rounded pin tail, it boasts the volume to get you into waves of just about any size, the speed to get you cutting around sections, and the maneuverability of your favorite shortboard. Quite the quiver replacer here.
The Beater Board
Your Summer Best Bet
For when summer comes around and long days at the beach are in order, there’s no better option than the beater board. Ridden in everything from overhead Pipeline to mushy beach break, this soft top option is built to literally take a beating. It’s perfect for hitting the shore break or teaching friends without all the worry getting your favorite board all dinged up as well. A perfect retro summer option.
Some Of The Best Surf Spots Here In The US
Now that you have the right board, it’s time to hit the surf. Or, perhaps hit the road in search of the perfect wave. Whatever the case, this list of the 32 best surf spots in the US should get you started.
HiConsumption is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more