Learn to Surf | Buy the Best Surfboard For Beginners

This surfboard buying guide is geared for people looking to buy their first surfboard. To choose the best surfboard for a beginner, it is important that you first consider what style of surfing you are after. You need to be honest with yourself as well as the person giving you advice on the surfboards as to your level of ability. Don't be worried about admitting you are a new surfer, everyone was a beginner surfer at some point.

In setting out to buy a surfboard there is no surfboard out there that is best for every surfer. Each surfer is different. Their physical size and weight, surfing abilities, surfing styles (some may want to carve up the wave while others are looking for long graceful rides). If you ask a friend who surfs, “what type of surfboard should I buy?” you will likely get an answer that is biased towards their particular surf style and not necessarily what you need to start learning how to surf. A rule of thumb in buying your first surfboard is to buy a surfboard that is one to two feet longer than your height.

This buying guide will help you in your decision. The first decision you should make is the style of surfboard you are looking for. If you are a novice surfer, shortboards are not an option unless you are an experienced skateboarder or snowboarder. Shortboards are not long enough, wide enough or thick enough to suit the beginner surfer.

Visit our home page for our complete free online guide to surfing, learn all the baics of how to surf for beginner and intermediate level surfers.

Surfboard Types

There are many different types of surfboards out on the market, but we can really break it down into three main styles: shortboards, funboards and longboards. You can choose from fiberglass surfboards, epoxy surfboards or softboards.

Softboards are sometimes called foam boards, but that is really a misnomer because todays soft top surfboards are made with strong EPS cores and wooden stringers that are glassed and epoxied before being covered with a high strength soft shell. These softboards deliver reasonable performance and a better surf feel than their predecessors. If safety is your number one priority a foam surfboard for beginners may be your best option.  They are great for young children.  For teens or adults, I don't recommend them unless you plan to only go out surfing a few times a year. If you plan to surf regularly, then you will quickly find yourself wanting a better performing surfboard.

Due to the interest I have received about softboards, I have added a new page to the site reviewing Foam surfboards for beginners a review of softboards.

For most people looking to purchase their first surfboard, they will be looking to purchase a fiberglass or epoxy surfboard. Let's now discuss the three main styles of surfboards. Shortboards, Funboards and Longboards.

What is a Shortboard?

The shortboard is the most common size of surfboard out in the water today. Shortboards are from 5 to 7 feet long. They are thinner than funboards and longboards. Shortboards provide the most maneuverability. Since shortboards are thinner (both in thickness and width), they are slower to paddle in the water and less stable. So what you gain in maneuverability you are giving up in paddling speed and stability.


What is a Funboard?

Funboards are also called Mini Mals in many parts of the world. Funboard surfboards are a hybrid of shortboards and longboards. They are usually between 6.5 and 8 feet long. They are almost as fast to paddle as a longboard, more stable than a shortboard and more maneuverable than a longboard. You will not be able to maneuver as well as a shortboard.

What is a Longboard?

Longboards Provide the most stability and paddling speed for surfing. The longboard is the most logical choice of surfboard for new surfers. However, if your goal is to be out there performing lots of cutbacks and other maneuvers a longboard is not the surfboard for you.


Once you have decided on the style of surfboard you are looking for, you need to consider how soon you want the surfboard and how much you are willing to pay. If you are wanting a custom made surfboard you need to consider these two points: the surfboard doesn't always arrive as ordered and it usually takes several weeks before you have the surfboard in your hands. If you are buying a new surfboard I would recommend a surfboard off the rack rather than one custom made. You will be getting what you see.

The Best Surfboard for Beginners

I've been trying to give advice that leads you to your own decision based on your abilities and where you envision your surfing progessing. However, for many of us starting out, making the decision on our first surfboard is a very daunting task. This is no surprise, there are hundreds of choices to make. If you asked me in general, "What is the best surfboard for beginners?", I would suggest that you check out Global Surf Industries, NSP brand of funboards. GSI's most popular beginner funboard is the 6'8" NSP funboard. The NSP funboard is an epoxy surfboard with a nice glossy coat. The rails are rounded nicely, but the tail has good kick. The design of the NSP surfboards are very durable. The fin box is so strong, your kids can run the surfboard up onto the sand and it is likely the fins would break before the surfboard itself would be damaged.

NSP surfboards provide very good performance, durability and most importantly are a great price. Here are a couple of videos put out by GSI. The first is shorter at 39 seconds and provides a good overview of the features of the GSI NSP funboard. The second video of the GSI NSP Funboard is longer at 4 minutes. It was filmed at a US East Coast surf shop and the owner discusses the advantages of the NSP surfboards. I agree with all of the things he says about the NSP surfboards.

One important aspect of buying a surfboard for beginners is the resale value. NSP surfboards are recognized for their durability and good performance. GSI have developed a surfboard that meets the needs of a vast number of beginning surfers. Many surfshops rent out the NSP surfboards because they are so darn strong. Rental surfboards get abused and the NSP surfboards stand up to that abuse better than other brands in the surf marketplace. When you come to the point where you are ready to upgrade to another surfboard, the NSP funboards hold their value and it is reasonable to expect you could have the surfboard a couple of years and sell it for about 50% of the new price. Not many other surfboards have that kind of resale value.

The Epoxy Vs Fiberglass Surfboards Question

Now this is a tough one. Ask a hundred different surfers their opinions on epoxy versus fiberglass surfboards and you are going to get a hundred different answers. Epoxy surfboards have been out for some time now, but the tech is still considered somewhat new by many surfers. Surftech is the best maker of epoxy surfboards on the market today. The question really warrants a whole page of its own, so here we go Epoxy Surfboards vs Fiberglass Surfboards.

Guide to Buying a Used Surfboard

How much should I pay for a used surfboard? Used surfboards can range from almost new without a scratch to water logged tanks. If your budget determines that you will be buying a used surfboard, you can expect to pay close to the price of a new surfboard for a surfboard that is completely ding free and nearly perfect, to as low as $50 for a well worn shortboard. I think the best compromise is to look for a surfboard that is slightly more used but is still relatively free of dings and major repairs. Avoid a surfboard with cracks in the fiberglass around the nose, tail or fins. If you see signs of major repairs or stains from water seeping in under the fiberglass, avoid the surfboard. You can expect to pay around $150 to $250 for a used surfboard that is in reasonably good condition.

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