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ISLE soft top surfbord

Surf check. Photo: Candice Appleby/The Inertia

The Inertia

High performance and soft-top are two words I never thought I’d use in the same sentence. To be fair, the ISLE Coronado isn’t a high performance surfboard, but for a soft-top, it performs incredibly well, with a durable epoxy core and a thin layer of soft EVA foam on the deck and rails.

While I will always prefer traditional hard-top surfboards, there is a time and a place for a soft-top. For starters, they are excellent beginner surfboards because the risk of hurting yourself or others is greatly reduced. They also are less likely to get damaged, making them a solid option if you’re traveling or just want a board you don’t have to worry about dinging.

Although soft-tops are fun to ride and mess around on, they generally don’t perform as well as hardboards. But the ISLE Coronado comes about as close as it gets thanks to its high-end construction.

Pros Cons
Rides similar to a hard board Difficult to carry for some due to width
Fun colors Foam can give you a rash if you’re not wearing a wetsuit
Super grippy foam (no wax required) So grippy you can stub your toes

First Impressions

I live on Oahu, but regularly visit Orange County, California and have been wanting a board to keep stateside for when I’m in town so I don’t have to travel with one whenever I go. After doing some research, the Coronado seemed like a fun, affordable option for San Onofre sessions.

When this board arrived in the mail, I was stoked on the way it looked. Available in three different color options, I chose orange and it’s so bright and fun – I was eager to hit the water. At $495+ (depending on the size), it’s a lot pricier than a Wavestorm, but is still much more affordable than a traditional longboard.

This board is wide and stable, making it a great option for beginners or for small days. And as a true soft-top rather than a “foamie” surfboard (foam through-and-through without the fiberglass/epoxy core), it is significantly more rigid, resulting in much better performance. The foam is grooved, making it super grippy, without the need to apply wax before hopping in the water. With a center longboard-style finbox and two sidebites, the Coronado has the option to be ridden as a singlefin, or a 2+1 setup.

ISLE Coronado soft top

Notable Features

Length: 7’6”, 8’0”, 9’0”
Width: 21”, 22”, 22.5”
Thickness: 3”, 3”, 3”
Volume: 55 L, 65L, 75L
Weight: 11.4lbs, 13lbs, 14lbs

Although I’ll occasionally ride a mid-length, I am a longboarder at heart. As such, I chose the 9’0″ Coronado. At 22.5″ wide, 3″ thick, and 75 liters, the board is super stable. I took this board out on a few small days as well as a handful of mid-size days and was blown away by how well it performs in the water.

Normally, riding a soft-top is good fun, but rarely do they measure up to the performance of a traditional fiberglass surfboard. Aside from the soft foam deck, however, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Coronado and a hardboard. It catches waves with ease, turns well, goes fast down the line, and is plenty stable for trips to the nose thanks to the wide, flat deck. Although it can hold its own in overhead surf, especially in the 9’0″ size, this board is best suited to chest high and below.

When it comes to the construction, the Coronado is made from a molded EPS core which has two 6 oz. layers of fiberglass on top and a 4 oz. layer of glass on the bottom. On top of all that is the soft 4mm EVA deck pad, which is what classifies the board as a soft-top. But essentially it’s a hybrid board and the traditional construction underneath (EPS core and layers of fiberglass) are why it performs similarly to a hard board.

I would classify myself as an intermediate surfer and I had a blast on this board, as did my friends who are of a similar skill level – this is definitely not a board that’s just for beginners. That said, the Coronado is also a perfect beginner board. Wavestorms (the quintessential beginner surfboard) are soft and user-friendly, but can be limiting once surfers get past the “absolute beginner” stage as they are more difficult to turn and ride down the line.

The Coronado has a bit more lasting surf-ability, giving a beginning surfer room to progress with the maneuverability of a hard board paired with the ease-of-use of a soft-top. As such, the Coronado is an option that will last you well into the future, and is durable enough to live in your quiver for years to come.

ISLE Coronado soft top

The ISLE Coronado hybrid soft-top surfboard. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia


My regular board is 23″ wide and I have no trouble carrying it, but for some reason, this board was challenging for me to fit my arm around due to the 3″ thickness. I had to resort to carrying it on my hip – not a big deal when you’re parking close to the beach, but a little annoying when you have to walk further to access the break.

As mentioned previously, the Coronado has a 4mm EVA deck pad with a croc-skin texture for grip which eliminates the need for wax. The deck is super grippy so you can rest easy knowing you won’t slip around while you shred. The only downside of the grippiness is that I’ve occasionally stubbed my toes while popping up due to the amount of grip!

The other downside of the grippy foam is that it can give you rashes if you’re not wearing a wetsuit. I got a pretty bad rash on my leg when I wasn’t wearing neoprene, so I fully plan on wearing leggings during summer sessions to prevent this problem. This is an issue I’ve unfortunately encountered with all foam boards, not just the Coronado.

isle soft top surfboard

Taking the ISLE Coronado out for a spin at San Onofre State Beach in California. Photo: Candice Appleby/The Inertia

Final Thoughts

Never did I ever think I would say that I love a soft-top surfboard but I really do enjoy the ISLE Coronado. It’s stable, turns well, is fast down the line, and the deck is incredibly grippy. It’s the perfect board for traveling, messing around on small days near home, or for folks looking to learn to surf. With three size options and fun color choices, the ISLE Coronado is a winner.


Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here. To see how the Coronado stacks up against the competition, check out our guides to the Best Soft-Top Surfboards, and the Best Beginner Surfboards.

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