Deciding on the first surfboard in a beginner’s road to surfing competency is pretty easy, in my opinion.
But in most cases, beginners tend to make “silly” mistakes that only derail their progress.
It’s understandable because they’ve no one to look up to. Plus, the thought of getting into a new sport is always exhilarating.
I also made the same mistake at my newbie stage and got a fish shortboard. Little did I know that this was far from the ideal beginner surfboard.
Well, the experience turned out to be less than discouraging.
Then I tried a gun board, and the results were not any better.
I’m now a competent surfboarder, but I could have fast-tracked my progress. Looking back, I realize I made the wrong choice when selecting my beginner surfboard.
Yes, while you can learn to surf on whatever board you like, understand some surfboards are more appropriate than others.
See, surfing is just like learning to drive a car. You didn’t start your driving lessons on a Ferrari, and you don’t want to learn to surf in a Ferrari. (You know what I mean!)
So, you want to avoid the Ferraris of surfboards at your surfing infancy, and here, I mean, keep away from shortboards, guns, and fun boards.
Also, steer away from anything fancy or expensive- after all, you don’t even know whether you’ll love surfing!
Instead, focus on the longboards, or generally any boards that will work on any wave you take off on.
Choose an option that will maximize your wave time, and find an option that helps you master catching as many waves, popping up consistently, and eventually learning to make some turns.
But what are these boards exactly?
In the guide below, I’ll share a list of some of my favorite surfboards that I usually recommend to all beginners. You’ll also come across the boards in most surfing schools.
Table of Contents
The Best Surfboards for Beginners For The Money
#1 Wavestorm Sunburst Graphic - EDITOR'S CHOICE
After reading so many reviews, I purchased the Wavestorm Graphic, as all the signs of the best beginner surfboard pointed to this board.
Several seasons into surfing, and I can confirm it is.
I surf the outer banks almost every day, and while I’m still figuring out body position and paddle technique, I manage to catch more than half of the waves I go for.
It has helped me not get frustrated as it’s easier to paddle and pop up on the traditional boards I see more advanced surfers on.
And the good thing is the board comes at an affordable price, so it’s a great board for folks who don’t have the means of spending hundreds of dollars on a board and still want to enjoy surfing.
Price aside, one of the things that attracted me to the Wavestorm was the size.
When you first see this board, it looks big and buoyant. You can easily tell that it’s specifically designed to stay afloat and glide the water when you paddle. This is what you want for a beginner board.
The board feature a dimension of 8’x 22” x 3”, meaning it’s long and big enough to tackle the basics of surfing.
For example, each time I stroke on the board, I feel myself coasting over the water, a far cry from other boards that have a drag.
Plus, this is one board that you can make progress on as a beginner, like balance, paddling, popping up, riding the wash, and riding waves.
Volume-wise, it has a generous volume of 84 liters, so it has enough floatation even for the big guys.
My friend, Jerry, is 230lbs and 6ft, and the board is great for him.
Personally, I can ride this board when the waves are small and mushy. Fun board.
While I won’t necessarily be ripping down the line on this thing, it’s a great option for getting the fundamentals down.
My son also uses it, but since it’s an 8′, he needs help to get it from the car to the surf, especially if it’s windy.
But other than that, there’s plenty to love with the size of the Sunburst.
The shape equally points out to a surfboard that is specifically designed for performance.
The rounded nose, square tail, and heavy rocker will eliminate nose-diving, adding to the overall board maneuverability and buoyancy.
When in the correct spot and the correct position of the wave, beginners will find it quite easy to stand up on this board.
The board’s construction also measures up, and I specifically acquired the Wavestorm to replace my BX soft surfboard.
The BZ was a bit too delicate and was prone to denting and scratching.
But the Wavestorm is different.
While you still need to take care of it when standing up or laying it down, it’s much better and sturdier in terms of construction.
Finally, when purchasing the Wavestorm, I loved that it didn’t just come as a board.
Instead, the board features a handful of needed accessories such as plastic fins from the thruster fin setup, a stomp pad, and a leash.
Overall, the Sunburst Graphic is a great beginner surfboard, coming with everything you need to get your feet into surfing.
#2 Boardworks Froth - Premium Option
I purchased the Boardworks Froth for my son, Kim (13), and Fiona (16) to bring the family break vacation in Florida.
My daughter has some experience with surfboards for beginners, but my son is still learning the basics.
I wanted to ensure the kids were busy on our vacation and didn’t want to drag along my fiberglass surfboard.
I’m glad everything went according to plan. My kids loved the board so much I wished I had gotten them, two boards.
While the Boardworks Froth was slightly more expensive than the regular beginner boards, I can now see why the delta in price.
For one, the build quality seems like a significant step-up from the traditional boards.
It’s well made, and even after the board taking a beating in the surf and banging as the kids carried it to the hotel, it remained fantastic.
The materials used are much better than what other soft boards offer. It feels stiff, yet it’s covered with a squishy foam deck, so it’s also forgiving once they fall on it.
Of course, I’ve come across some reviews that these foam boards fall apart, but what would you expect after leaving them out to bake in the sun?
Like everything else, you still need to care for these boards, and they’ll last for quite a long time.
Performance-wise, the Froth doesn’t slack.
It’s lightweight and has a decent rocker, which helps beginners. Not too much and not too little. It was a step-up from other foam boards, and the rocker allowed my kids to catch as many waves as possible.
Kim found it light enough to carry with minimal complaining and was easy to pack when I removed the fins.
My kids also managed to surf and had an easier time compared to other beginner boards.
While it feels comparatively stiff, it’s quite responsive, particularly compared to the cheaper foam boards.
I expected the double stringer construction to help with the performance. The boxy rails were also a plus.
It was a blast for me, and I was glad that it could float me so well for the size. And once riding, the soft top felt surprisingly fun and maneuverable.
All in all, we were thrilled with this purchase.
The quality was fine, and the performance was on another level.
Froth board was also a pleasant surprise, especially considering we’ve frequently been disappointed in foam boards from the big boards in the past. I’ll definitely get another one.
#3 South Bay Board Co. Verve Premium Surfboards – All-around Surfboard
I’ve a dozen of fiberglass surfboards, and I recently switched to soft boards.
The South Bay Board Verve has by far a much more refined quality than the other foamies. Plus, the shape, construction, and fins, and double concave bottom are mind-blowing for sure.
It’s a tad expensive, and I was reluctant to spend the extra $$ on it, but I can now see why.
It’s worth it!
It’s definitely good for beginners and catching the mushy waves. It’s easy to pop up too.
Out of the box, it looks cool, and no wax is needed.
The first time I took it in some calm waves was fun. And the good thing is it’s an EPS foam board, so I can ride it without worrying about being hurt if I get hit by it or having some sore ribs the next day from paddling on a hard surface.
It’s also a beginner-friendly option, and it’s not a surprise that it’s such a popular surfboard in most surf schools and shops.
Verve’s surfboard shapes, a round nose, wide chest area, and rounded tail section deliver stability and speed at all times.
As if that’s not enough, the Verve has an entry-level rocker in the nose and tail, and this allows me to keep the board loose. At the same time, it ensures I stay above the water’s surface during the challenging takeoffs and turns.
It’s fun for dropping in and still more maneuverable than I expected.
Performance doesn’t end there!
It paddles well and is steady even in choppy conditions.
However, it’s not a true mini mal like its sibling, the Ruckus, but it still works great, especially for those smaller days where you just want to get out in the water and have a good time.
It can also catch the small whitewash wave quite well and still perform in larger 6-8′ sets, surprisingly well.
It has a heft and is a bit heavy (23lbs), but this helps the beginners and seniors getting used to standing.
I’m also super stoked with the board’s 8’ length, as it provides sufficient floatation and stability, which you need for finding your feet in the sea.
See, I’m a little larger as a human and have a hard time finding the right board to support my weight.
With the Verve, I’m pleased that it’s stuffed enough to keep me floating, and I can even stand up and ride the line on a wave without losing stability.
Best of all is the board has a nice and sturdy construction.
The carefully layered materials, including two wooden stringers, ensure the board can take a serious beating without compromising its integrity.
Provided you take care of it, the board will last for a long time, and you won’t probably need to replace it anytime soon.
And of course, being a South Bay Co. offering, Verve comes complete with a package choice, which could see you investing in a traction pad, travel bag, thruster fins, and a leash.
What could be better for starting your surfing journey than with a full shebang?
#4 South Bay Board Co. Guppy Surfboard – Best Beginner Surfboard for Lightweight Surfers
The Guppy is an incredible surfboard for kids and adults up to 150 pounds.
Not only that, but I love Guppy’s shape because it hits the sweet spot between stability, speed, and performance.
The rounded nose and squared tail are perfect for beginners looking for enhanced performance.
Another nice thing I love with Guppy soft foam is the solid construction.
It utilizes a closed-cell polystyrene foam core. Closed-cell means the board doesn’t absorb water like a sponge for those new to surfboard construction technology.
My son has crashed the Guppy several times, and it doesn’t get waterlogged as other boards do. This helps to extend the board’s lifespan, and I don’t see like I’m going to replace it any time soon.
Guppy will take on a beating along the double wooden stringers, including the crashes without breaking down or losing its integrity.
Size-wise, you’ll also notice Guppy is large.
It comes with an 8 feet length, but more importantly, it has a generous volume of 80 liters.
When I first used it, I could immediately feel the heft and substance on the board.
I was even more impressed with the amazing buoyancy, and even a complete beginner will be sure to feel safe and relaxed getting out on the waves on this cool board.
And if you’re still undecided about getting the Guppy or Wavestorm, you’ll love Guppy because it’s light. So, it goes faster, and you won’t fatigue from carrying it from your car or hotel to the beach.
The only department where the Wavestorm wins over the Guppy is the deck.
Not on the size, but the grip. Guppy requires waxing and is a bit slippery without it.
Secondly, dirt and sand tend to stick on the Guppy deck, making it ugly on white stripes.
Nevertheless, Guppy still has an awesome design and many design attributes that many beginning surfers like.
For example, it comes with a handle hole, which, together with the light design, makes carrying the board a breeze.
Performance on the water is equally impressive, and I love how easy it is to paddle power out and catch the waves.
I’m a beginner, and on my first few tries, I managed to catch a couple of waves, even when standing.
And when I missed them, I didn’t have to worry much about injuring myself or leaving the water red-skinned because it’s a soft top. It’s quite forgiving, and I’m even comfortable sharing it with my kids.
Overall, Guppy is a nice addition to your quiver and is great for those starting.
It’s well-made, easy to use, and will understand the basics of surfing with minimal paddling effort.
#5 California Board Company Surfboard – Most Versatile; also ideal for Experienced Surfers
The California Board Company was the second board in my quiver, and I’ve fallen in love with this pick-up to date.
Not only is it a great-looking beginner surfboard, but it rides fantastic as well.
While I’m still finding my feet in the water, this board complements me perfectly, and I’ve a gut feeling that it’ll help me develop my surfing ability.
At 7 feet in length, it’s short, just enough to squeeze itself in the rive surf without catching the incoming green waves. Yet, it’s still voluminous enough so that popping your feet won’t feel like a task for a beginner.
It also remains highly buoyant, and this is ideal for beginners and larger surfers.
But its greatest suit, in my opinion, is its versatility.
For one, it’s not only great for beginners, but a good beginner surfboard picks for kids, teens, and adults of smaller stature to learn on.
And unlike most beginner foam boards on our list, this foamie has a well-designed shape, which continues to perform as beginner surfers improve. So, it also doubles up a great first board for experienced surfers, and I’m happy that I won’t need to reach for my wallet any time soon once I master the basics of surfing.
The other thing I love with this EPS foam surfboard is the construction.
It’s not a handcrafted board or an epoxy surfboard. It’s a foamie, so you shouldn’t have any problem smashing it into rocks and ocean beaches. It doesn’t ding, and this is a boon, especially when you’re starting.
Performance-wise, it doesn’t slack either.
It lacks true fin boxes, and while I thought that was a dealbreaker, I was pleased to learn that it sports a screw-in thruster setup.
Depending on how I want to feel underfoot, I can use the setup as a thruster, twin, or single-fin.
I’m a big fan of the thruster configuration because it’s much more versatile than other fin setups. And with two removable fins on the lateral rails and one on the center, I benefit from a much stable ride, with a fair amount of “drag.”
Fins aside, this pick also has enough rocker to fit onto some of the steeper waves. At the same time, it eliminates the chances of nose-diving, which is important when taking off.
The only thing I don’t like with the rocker is that there’s very little of it towards the middle and rear. While it makes it easier to catch more waves and paddles easier, it’s challenging to turn. But overall, it’s a good surfboard.
And not only that, the CBC surfboard is suitable for different types of waves.
It’s, in fact, much better than a mini mal because I’ve surfed in almost all conditions.
It is brilliant for learning on whitewater and progressing onto unbroken waves, too.
Of course, you’ll eventually need a hardboard, but for the most part, this will take longer than you think.
And did I mention that CBC surfboards are inexpensive?
#6 Giantex Foamie Surfboard - Best Budget Beginner Surfboards
Our last pick of the best beginner surfboards is a board so cheap that it’ll astound you.
It comes at less than $100, and it can’t get any lower than this.
Giantex is the perfect surfboard for riders who have never tried surfing before and don’t want to invest their life into the board without knowing what awaits them.
But the good thing is, Giantex isn’t as “cheap” as you would have imagined.
It works, and my sons have used it for several seasons without showing signs of wear, breakages, or holes.
The high-quality HDPE and a slick PP foam core bottom will stand up to whatever you throw at it, and it doesn’t seem like I’m going to replace the surfboard any time soon.
Of course, don’t be stupid and leave it in your hot car’s trunk or on top of the sand. The top scratches and punctures easily.
But otherwise, if well-taken off, it should last you several seasons or just long enough for your kids to want something better when their skills improve.
Performance-wise, I was impressed by how the board packs a lot of volume.
It’s significantly more buoyant than your average first surfboard, which is good for beginners because they float better.
They don’t have to worry about sinking or have trouble paddling because it buoys them up nice and easy.
Also, as you can guess from the name, this board is a giant, making it super comfortable and offering an all-around learning experience.
And even with its large size, Giantex is super-fast.
Of course, not like a mini mal or shorter board. But for the size, you’d expect it to be slow and sludgy.
However, Giantex has a secret card, a unique bottom concave.
The unique hull design will allow you to gain a bit more speed than your regular foamie and more than other beginner foam surfboards.
What about flexibility?
I was stoked to find out that it handles different kinds of waves with relative ease.
But since it’s a soft-top beginner surfboard, it excels most on the small-sized beach break waves.
Keep in mind it’s not the option for surfing when the waves get a little bit bigger. It shouldn’t be your go-to board if you plan on doing some serious surfing.
But if you need a board for all-around surf lessons, you can never go wrong with this pick.
Best Surfboards for Beginners Buying Guide
I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best beginner surfboards in the section below.
Hopefully, by the end of our guide, you’ll make a more informed decision on your next purchase.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Surfboard for Beginners
Generally, there’re two main types of foam surfboards beginners should consider.
1) Soft Top Long Boards
If you’ve ever had surfing lessons with a surf school, you’re probably aware of the soft top boards.
They’re also known as foamies and are ideal for beginners because their soft foam construction makes them incredibly buoyant, allowing beginners to catch waves easily.
Plus, they come with beginner-friendly dimensions that ensure their stability in water, making it easier for newbies to stand up.
Another benefit of foam construction is how well they minimize injuries.
Keep in mind, however, many riders tend to outgrow these soft top surfboards, especially if they’ll be surfing regularly.
2) The Pop-outs
A pop-out surfboard is designed in a production line and is a cheaper alternative to the custom-made epoxy boards.
These boards are made of foam covered with thick fiberglass and practically indestructible.
However, their construction makes them heavier, and this reduces their performance. But this is good from a learner’s point of view because the soft top board is much steadier in the water.
They’re good beginner boards, though, and offer more to the average surfer than soft boards because they last longer.
Pop-ups are also in demand and offer a good resale value, so after you’ve learned to surf on them, it’s easier to find a buyer on Craigslist.
How to Pick the Best Beginner Surfboards
You already know the best type of beginner surfboard, but you also need to consider the features that matter most on your surfboard.
They’ll determine whether you get the right first surfboard for your surfing needs.
Volume is important for the best surfboard for beginners.
This is because a soft-top board with lots of volume floats better, making it easier for learners to get to their feet and catch more waves.
Usually, volume is measured in liters, and in our opinion, a beginner board should have 60 liters- and even better if there’s more.
Of course, boards with more volume aren’t easier to duck dive, turn or handle in white water. But at the beginning of your surfing career, that matters less; you should focus on catching as many waves as you can.
On a side note, we see riders with snowboarding experience assuming because they’re good snowboarders, they’ll find it easy and quick to surf.
As a result, they won’t skip the phase of learning on a bigger board.
This won’t speed up your surfing curve; instead, it does the opposite.
The bottom line is, you still need to learn the basics of surfing; paddle technique, catching waves, and riding the white water. All these are best done on a surfboard with volume.
As with the volume, the longer the board, the better.
A beginner surfer should learn and hone skills that are considered long. Anything greater than 7′ s perfect.
The increased length means other dimensions on the board are larger as more foam must go into shaping the board.
More foam equals more volume and more stability.
The longer boards make it easier to catch the smaller waves necessary for learning and progressing.
But generally, long boards are suitable for those who haven’t surfed before.
If you’ve some basics, you can consider the fun shape.
Funshape surfboards allow for better progression.
The width is measured from the widest point of the rail to the other.
Generally, wider surfboards have a stable deck and increased foam. This helps when paddling and standing on a wave, while the increased foam helps with buoyancy.
Most beginner boards have a width ranging from 22-24”.
As you guessed, thickness refers to how thick your board is.
If you grab the sides of your board, holding onto its ‘rails’ and this is where you can feel the thickness of your first surfboard.
Generally, beginner surfboards should have a slightly pumped-up thickness, anywhere from 2.5-3”.
This is enough to provide the buoyancy you need for catching and riding the smaller waves with ease.
However, too much thickness will make the board slightly challenging to maneuver.
The good thing is all our listed beginner surfboards are shaped with the proper thickness in mind.
What Type of Beginner Foam Boards Should I Choose?
Now that you understand the proper dimensions of your beginner board let’s look at the board that is best for you.
Generally, I would recommend two main types;
Funshapes vs. Longboards
Both fun shapes and longboards are perfect beginner surfboards, but which one should you buy?
Here’re the things to keep in mind when selecting between the two;
A longer board helps to teach the basics of surfing more than the fun shapes.
It’ll help you master paddling, popping up, and riding straight on a wave.
Simply put, a longboard is an ideal option if you’re new to surfing because you can effortlessly catch the tiny, non-intimidating waves.
But once you feel comfortable on a longboard, you face a dilemma.
What board do I need in terms of progression?
While long boards are great for starting, you may find it challenging riding the face of a wave or even performing basic turns.
Where the large size was helpful may now hold you back at your beginner stage.
This is where a funshape comes into play.
Funshapes are still “big” beginner surfboards compared to the difficult-to-ride shortboards.
However, they’re not quite as voluminous, stable, and floaty as a longboard.
While they make the basics of paddling a bit challenging than with a longboard, fun shapes offer better versatility and opportunity for progression.
With a funshape, you start to feel how your body controls the varying turns and carves.
Best Surfboard for Beginners Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What size is a beginner surfboard?
A: Longboards are usually the best surfboards for beginners.
A rule of thumb is to start with a log that is 3 feet longer than your height.
Q: Is a 7ft surfboard good for a beginner?
A: Usually, the 8 to 9 feet surfboards are the best options for beginners.
But there’s a unique case where a 7ft could be a great option for a beginner.
For example, if you’re super athletic and skilled in other related board sports such as snowboarding or wakeboarding, then a 7ft might be a great pick. This is especially true if you’re looking to start using the short boards soonest.
Secondly, if you’re in your teen, full of energy and less than 130 lbs., then a 7 ft surfboard could be a great way to work towards a shortboard.
Q: Is a long surfboard better for beginners?
A: Yes, longboards are better for several reasons:
- More stable, and this helps with balance
- More buoyant, and this helps with better paddling and catching waves
- Allows you to surf the small waves
Q: Can I use a foamie for learning?
A: Yes, foamies are great learning options, especially the longboards.
They’re stable, user-friendly, and catch waves easier.
Plus, you don’t have to worry much about dings, so you don’t need to be careful when handling them.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best beginner surfboards is the Wavestorm Graphic.
After a thorough review and comparison against all the boards in the list and the market, the Wavestorm Graphic floors its competition with a great margin.
It makes catching waves a breeze, and while not the easiest to duck dive with, it’s super reliable, especially for beginners.
The board has sufficient volume and great buoyancy to keep you floating, even when standing.
Plus, you won’t spend too much money on this pick.
I’d recommend it!