Choosing a Surfboard - A Beginners Guide

Beginners Guide to Choosing a Surfboard

So you caught the Surf bug! Now what?

So you finally rode your first wave and are hooked on surfing! Chances are you probably rented or borrowed your board and now its time you had your own. This handy guide will walk you over selecting the best surfboard for your needs and the most important factors in surfboard selection.

What is your experience level: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

Beginner: You have never tried surfing or maybe have gone just a few times. You want to really learn how to ride waves and start out on the right foot. If this is you then always lean towards a longer size board such as a longboard surfboard. These are wide, stable, wave catching boards perfect for small days to learn with lots of floatation. I know the pros make it look so easy in the surf movies riding small performance surfboards but don't be fooled into thinking you can just hop on a small surfboard and hack and do airs with the best of them. Surfing is a lifelong pursuit and choosing a small board to start will have you in for a long hard struggle. Learn the basics on a mini long or longboard and then transition to a smaller board once you get a feel for the ocean and riding and catching waves.

Intermediate:You are comfortable in the water riding and catching waves and you want to explore your options. If hardcore shredding is what you seek then you may want to step down from a longboard or mini long to something smaller like a shortboard or fish. If you don't want to make a huge step down the funshape is a great option as it's in between a short board and longboard style. Or if longboarding is your steeze then opt for a smaller more performance style longboard with lots of bells and whistles for nose rides and more performance longboarding.

Advanced: You know who you are, no need for this guide as you know what you need! Go ahead, Go Shred!


What is your weight?

Weight is a very important factor in selecting a board. If you are a light person (under 200lbs) then smaller boards will be easier for you to paddle and turn. If you are heavy (200 lbs +) then try and stick with a longer, thicker board. We put together this size and weight chart to give you an idea of our surfboard models and suggested weights. Remember, when in doubt, always go with a larger size surfboard.

What type of surf will you be riding with your surfboard?

You need to assess the types of waves you will be riding with your surfboard. Like most of us you probably live where the waves are small - in the 1-4' range most of the time. If your local break is a slower, mushier wave then boards like longboards and fish's come in handy. If you want to try your hand at a steeper, more bowly wave then having a shortboard or smaller size board always helps as they fit the geometry of the steep wave face better. Just remember it's no fun to grovel in 2' slop on a board that's way too small for you. Maximize your fun and pick the correct board for the type of waves you will use it in.

What is your board sports experience and fitness level?

Surfing is a sport that requires a lot of fitness. A strong, agile individual with lots of experience in other board sports such as skateboarding, wakeboarding or snowboarding should have no trouble at all jumping right into a shortboard or fish from the get-go and be up and riding in no time. However if you do not fit into this category you absolutely want to seek out a longer board such as a mini-long or longboard as they have a lot more float, stability and make catching waves a snap. If you think you are somewhere in the middle then try a funshape or bigger style shortboard or fish. Even for someone who is very fit and has lots of experience with other board sports it can be months of daily surfing to learn just the basics of the ocean, catching waves and riding the face so keep this in mind when choosing a board size so you can maximize your fun on the water.

How often will you be going surfing: Hardcore Daily or Weekend Warrior?

Surfing takes a lot of commitment to become an expert. When you first get started you really need to assess your overall commitment as it's important in your board choice. If you think it's just a weekend thing or something you only do once in a while you should always go for the longer board such as a longboard or mini-long. Or if you ride shorter boards try a short board or fish a few sizes bigger. Nothing is worse than struggling on a tiny board when you only get out once a week or a few times a month and the goal is to maximize wave count.

Still Confused? Our experts can help!

If you're still having a hard time making a final decision, have no fear as we are here to help! Shoot us an email or reach us by phone and our experts can guide you into your magic craft. Our goal is to put you on the correct board for your needs. And our "No Hassle 100% Guarantee" assures you if the board you select is not the right fit we will take it back within 30 days and swap it out for another board, even after you've ridden it. This policy ensures you can have peace of mind when you drop some coin on a new stick. Happy surfing!

Marc Miller fro Isle Surf and SUP

About the Author -is the founding partner of Isle Surf & SUP an online retailer of paddle boards & surfboards. He has been involved in board manufacturing, product development and website management for Isle since its inception in 2004. He also writes the Isle Surf & SUP Blog. An avid surfer and paddler for the past 2 decades when hes not in the office he can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.