Photo: SurfSwap

Photo: SurfSwap

The Inertia

Buying your first surfboard is a big deal. Not only will you remember this board for the rest of your salty, water-logged life, but it will be an important factor in determining how quickly you beat that frustrating beginners learning curve. Many factors contribute to buying your first surfboard including budget, body type, and expected frequency of use, but the only thing that matters once you’re in the water is increasing your wave count.

The SurfSwap community works together to give you the best used board selection. We believe that all beginners should start on a used board in order to keep your cost-to-wave ratio down. Below are some board-buying recommendations that will help you find the perfect beginner board.

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions.

Soft Tops Are Where It’s At

If you have ever participated in a surf lesson, chances are you rode a “foamie.” These soft surfboards became the most common beginner board as their prices dropped significantly; and now, some experienced surfers have even adopted them as a part of their quiver. The large volume adds stability that is crucial when learning to stand and balance. The completely foam build adds buoyancy, which makes paddling and wave catching (the goal) much easier for beginners.


Eeeaaasy does it...

Eeeaaasy does it…

Surfboards are large and at times hard to maneuver in the water, especially when you are a novice; risk of injury decreases when learning on a soft board. How? Collisions are padded, so not only are you safer, but the surfers around you are as well.

Pro Tip: As a rule of thumb, adults should seek an 8′ soft board, and children standing under five feet tall should find a 6′ foamie.

When Not To Buy a Soft Top

If you plan on surfing regularly, you will most likely outgrow a soft board rather quickly, typically within 20 sessions in the water. If board aesthetics and performance is a priority for you, consider looking into custom, hand-shaped surfboards as opposed to manufactured, pop-out surfboards. The longboard (a.k.a. Malibu) and funboard (a.k.a. Mini Malibu) are great options for beginner surfers who are graduating from the foamie.

Funboard – 7’2” to 9′
Longboard – 9′ & Up

Pro Tip: The Mini Malibu is preferable if have a long paddle through larger surf as funboards are more maneuverable. For those who desire to eventually move to a shortboard, the funboards make for an easier transition. While you are learning to take care of your board, consider buying a board with an epoxy shell as they are more ding resistant than most fiberglass boards.


A word to the wise — unless you were fortunate enough to have Mom or Dad push you into waves with a shortboard as a child, it will take you far longer to learn to surf on a shortboard than on the boards we recommended above. Many have made this mistake, and many more probably will, but we are here to mitigate that number. These boards are not thick enough, long enough, or wide enough to learn on.

You won't find this funny, but most of the lineup will.

You won’t find this funny, but most of the lineup will.

But don’t worry, it won’t be long before you’re on that shortboard!

All That Is To Say…

Banging up your first board is inevitable, so save yourself the headache and keep some money in your pocket by buying used. Start learning on a soft board until you are successful standing at least 75% of the time. Once you reach this level, you may choose to continue on the soft board, or if you so please, graduate to a hard board. The length of this board should be somewhere above 7’2”, and be shaped as either a Longboard, Funboard, or Hybrid. Stay away from anything shorter until you have become very comfortable turning and surfing waves larger than three feet.

Additionally, this beginner board often becomes the small wave surfboard in your quiver, so consult your surfing buddies before you make this decision!

Photo: SurfSwap

Photo: SurfSwap

The mission of SurfSwap is to share the stoke. SurfSwap is a communal marketplace where surfers of all levels can buy, sell and swap surf gear locally. They are working to save you money and lower the barriers to surfing. If you want some more advice on choosing a board, email Andrew Poksay (andrew@surfswap.co) and let them lend you a hand!


Only the best. We promise.


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