While traditional surfing hasn’t lost its appeal, many water sports enthusiasts are slowly turning towards using paddle boards for surfing
Of course, there are numerous reasons behind the shift, but, for me, paddleboards offer an easy way to surf; if you can stand on a SUP board, then you can likely surf on one too.
Another reason I prefer a paddleboard for surfing is because it’s easier to see the sets coming. You’re more likely to catch waves that you wouldn’t be able to ride on a traditional surfboard.
But, as exciting as SUP surfing is, it comes with its own set of challenges.
In particular, choosing the wrong paddleboard can be frustrating, and the constant falls could even make you want to reconsider giving up on SUP surfing altogether.
But, don’t get discouraged by the falls.
Some boards can help you learn how to jump onto your feet quickly.
Dedicated surfing SUPs are built with surfers in mind and play a critical role when catching or riding the waves.
They are different from regular paddleboards and come with everything you need when gliding over choppy water and through swells.
Now, if you think the idea of a SUP for surfing sounds good to you, here is a list of the best paddleboards for surfing on the market.
Table of Contents
The Best Paddleboards for Surfing For The Money
#1 ISLE Airtech 10′ Paddle Board - All-Around Option
If surfing isn’t your only water-based activity, you might consider an all-around option like the Isle Airtech 10′.
Its versatile design allows you to perform various on-water paddleboard sports, including yoga, fishing, or even recreational paddling.
Yet, it also has special design features tailored for great surfing action.
But, is it the right SUP for your surfing?
Features and Benefits
One of the things we like about the ISLE Airtech 10′ is the durable build quality.
Sporting a military-grade PVC and a distinct “Airtech Fusion Lite” construction, this board is extremely resistant to knocks and bumps.
It’s not vulnerable to dings and cracks even when it runs into piers, jetties, or rocks.
The board also survives being dragged across a rocky beach, as the material construction is virtually impossible to damage.
Dimensions and performance
The ISLE Airtech 10′ is not a dedicated surfing board, and so its length didn’t take us by surprise.
Standing at ten feet, it’s a pretty long paddleboard, and an excellent option for beginners as it allows them to catch the waves easier than they would on a shortboard.
The width is also quite impressive, with 31 inches of board real estate helping to stabilize the board on wild swells and choppy waters. This feature also makes it easier for beginners to ride and stand on the board.
As you probably know, surfing requires paddlers to make essential rapid turns when riding the wild and large waves.
It’s not a problem on the ISLE Airtech 10′ thanks to a Diamond Groove Traction, which lets you turn quickly without losing balance.
The board offers a sure footing, and will keep you rooted firmly on the board when chasing windy waves and surface swells.
Unless you’re looking for speed, paddling with a single fin is a challenge.
However, with the Airtech, surfers profit from a triple-fin system for easier board control. We find the fin system even more practical on an inflatable such as the ISLE Airtech, which lacks hard rails that would have otherwise helped with carving.
A huge concern for surfing SUPs is unnecessary flex, which impedes overall performance.
Fortunately, with the ISLE Airtech 10′, flex is one less thing to worry about as the board holds you perfectly in position, giving you more control for dominating the waves.
#2 BIC Sport ACE-TEC - Best for Family Use
When we came across this brand, I must admit our thoughts turned to biros or some other stationery. A SUP board was not what we pictured.
However, if you’re an ardent fan of the brand, you’ll know that BIC Sport has also branched into SUP making, and today we’re going to review one of its offerings.
The BIC Sport ACE-Tec is an exceptionally stable, rigid, and all-round surfboard.
It might not be the swiftest in its class, but it has everything you need to take on the ocean waves.
Features and Benefits
Overall, the board is up there in the range of high-quality SUPs.
It’s versatile, resilient, and user-friendly for all levels of surfers.
The board features a durable plastic formed through thermoforming, offering reassurance that it can take a good beating.
From user reviews, this board comes with commercial-grade durability and will survive the battering and abuse of surfing without breaking down.
Accidental brushes with shallow rocks or contact with sharp coral or the like do little to no harm to the board’s overall integrity.
Dimensions and performance
The BIC Sport ACE-TEC is built with surfers in mind.
It’s a long option; we found it the ideal watercraft to catch waves and handle rough water and choppy wake without losing a beat.
The BIC Sport’s impressive size also means the board isn’t easily bogged down by large swells and waves as the lighter surfboards can be.
It also has a generous width, so surfers can profit from incredible stability. The sizeable breadth also allows surfers to take full advantage of each paddle stroke, even in choppy waters. This way, the board achieves more glide for each stroke and requires less energy expenditure.
Another awesome, surf-oriented feature is a slight rocker profile, which allows the board to navigate through both small and large waves while surfing.
The only downside of the BIC Sport is arguably the single-fin system.
There’s nothing wrong with the fin, but we expected at least a multi-fin system for a surf board.
Still, it’s better than none, and we found it to be quite practical in offering reasonable control over the board’s tail.
On the upside, it’s detachable, allowing the board to double up as a cruising board. While it won’t win you any surfing competitions, it helps when speed is your priority.
The BIC Sport maneuvers like a champ, partly due to the keeled nose design.
Its tracking performance is superb, and you’ll love how it cuts through the water majestically.
#3 SereneLife Premium Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board - Best Value for Money
The SereneLife Inflatable Board is made for surfers tired of seeing wide dimensional boards on the web.
It’s the ideal option for those who need a personalized paddleboard with a lower weight.
And, like our two previously reviewed options, it’s a versatile choice, delivered with features that will light up those who have always loved paddling, boarding, and surfing.
Features and Benefits
With drop-stitch core material and PVC tape, the Serene Premium is made to endure the roughness of waters and survive bumps against rocks and other types of obstacles.
If you happen to get caught at low tide and scratched on the bottom by sharp rocks, the board holds up well and doesn’t puncture easily.
It’s also sturdy enough to withstand minor drops from your car’s trunk and survive the roughness of packing and portability.
Dimensions and performance
The SereneLife, with a length of ten feet, is a little longer than the typical all-around boards but shorter than the average surfboard.
While it doesn’t fit the bill for a shortboard, it offers excellent mobility and aggressive riding, perfect for the fast and steep waves reserved for advanced and intermediate riders.
The width is also a bit smaller compared with our previously reviewed options. While not too narrow to cause stability issues, it’s wide enough that you don’t have to put any effort into achieving stability.
That said, the width has a reduced drag on the board, which minimizes its glide over flat spots, and this, as we discovered, is a huge drawback in gentle conditions.
On the upside, it improves the maneuverability for quick, snappy turns.
The SereneLife resembles the ISLE AirTech in that it features a triple-fin system, which is essential in providing traction when gliding through the water.
The three fins also help increase speed while allowing for the easy maneuverability of the board.
Alongside the fin system, the board has a non-slip deck that offers a steady ride when making sharp and rapid turns on the wild waves.
The SereneLife has great packability, with the lightweight design helping with greater portability.
And, despite the super low weight of 19 pounds, this unit has a decent weight capacity of 275 pounds; enough to hold heavy guys without flexing.
#4 Aqua Marina ISUP - Best for Skilled Surfers
Fourth on our list of the best paddleboards for surfing is yet another watercraft from a reputable brand.
The Aqua Marina ISUP is a reliable and practical surfing paddleboard.
However, the board’s dimensions, particularly the width, deliver an option only suited for skilled surfers or at most those at an intermediate level.
So, is it the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
As with most of the boards on our list, this option seems well built, and it’s easy and fun to use at the seaside or on a lake.
The PVC construction is indestructible; I’ve had the paddleboard out in sandpits with some areas of rock outcroppings and haven’t had any problems.
Some boarders have also used this paddleboard in shallow water, with occasional brushes with rocks and other obstacles, and the board has remained strong and free from any leakage.
The only downside of the construction is that the non-slip surface tends to start peeling after only a few uses, but a little glue fixes that.
However, my biggest complaint is the flimsy pump, which isn’t great and is liable to break when you get to the 15 psi recommended pressure.
Dimensions and performance
The Aqua Marina is designed for pro surfers, and this is evident from the dimensions.
First, it has a short length of just nine feet, fitting the bill of a shortboard. It’s easy to maneuver due to lower water-resistance, and pro surfers find it ideal for riding large-scale waves while having full control of the board.
The board might not be a great choice for beginners because it doesn’t hold a longer waterline and won’t keep your balance in check for extended sessions. Plus, it’s shaky, so it offers less stability when speeding up in pursuit of a wave.
On the other hand, the four inch thickness doesn’t make paddling particularly easy for beginners, but after alot of practice it may turn you into a pro surfer. The thinner board makes it less complicated to maneuver, and while it doesn’t offer much floatation, it will allow you to make quick, snappy turns when riding or chasing lively waves.
The Aqua Marina’s deck is padded, and you’ll love how the grooved design offers stable footing and traction, which is critical when making quick turns on the water.
It gives surfers a sure foot, ensuring you don’t slip off the paddleboard when chasing or riding a sizeable wave.
Controlling the Aqua Marina is relatively easy thanks to the detachable triple-fin system.
While having a single, central fin creates the least drag, adding two more fins, as we see on the Aqua Marina, contributes to your ability to control the paddleboard, especially when riding over choppy waters.
In particular, the two lateral fins offer extra traction, letting you track and maneuver over the harshest of conditions with ease when you are more experienced.
#5 Red Paddle Co. Whip - Best for Speed
Our final pick, the Red Paddle Whip, is yet another practical SUP, perfect for pro surfers who yearn for a little more speed when hitting the waves.
It has the characteristics of a true shortboard, and with its thinness and minimal length, it’s snappy and quick when riding over lively waters.
Features and Benefits
The Red Paddle uses a proprietary MSL fusion to make its inflatable paddleboards.
The technology, consisting of dual-layers, is super strong, rigid, and will survive getting hit by wild wave or even contact with rocks and other obstacles.
Another cool feature, unique to this paddleboard, is the patented RSS batten system, or rather pockets laminated to the sides for holding stiffeners making it strong enough so maneuvring is easier.
Dimensions and performance
The Red Paddle Whip is perhaps the ultimate surfing paddleboard.
Coming in with modest dimensions on all aspects, including the length, width, and thickness, it offers a very controllable and fast board.
However, it’s not particularly stable, so it might not be a great option for beginners or even intermediate boarders. But for riders who have mastered their wobbliness and can handle unexpected turns of lively, wild waves, it’s a perfect choice.
The Whip makes it easy to make quick, snappy turns and will let you glide over swells and large waves with greater ease and more control.
It’s also a great board for white water paddling, with the rounded nose and narrow tail making it easier for you to navigate through harsh and turbulent water conditions.
A removable center fin on the Red Paddle makes it easier to control and maneuver the board even in less than perfect conditions.
It’s also possible to detach the fin, and while it might compromise on the overall controllability, it’s perfect if you need to prioritize speed over everything else.
Weight and weight capacity
Along with the excellent performance, the Red Paddle has a decent weight capacity of 200 pounds.
The weight capacity may be a deal-breaker since it can’t hold big, tall guys. For me, it was a disappointment since I wouldn’t be able to have my furry friend tag along.
On the upside, it’s an ultra-light paddleboard, probably among the lightest on the market.
At 16 pounds, it feels feather-light and a is great option for travelers.
But that’s not all!
The lightness also means the board is easier to maneuver and ride over the waves. While its glide is not as pronounced as other thicker and heavier options that rely on inherent buoyancy, making quick and snappy turns when catching a wave is a breeze on this board.
Best Paddle Boards for Surfing Buying Guide
There’re plenty of SUPS for surfing in the marketplace, and choosing the right option for your paddleboarding surfing needs can be challenging.
Fortunately, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide outlining everything you need to know before selecting the best SUP for you.
Factors to consider when selecting the best paddleboard for surfing
There are two ways to go when choosing your board’s shape.
If you plan to use your board for surfing only, you should consider a dedicated surf or at least surf-specific design.
However, if surfing is on the cards for you and you need an option that can double up as a recreational or touring board, you should consider an all round board.
Generally, dedicated surfing SUPs are shorter and have a much lower volume than general paddling boards.
The lower volume ensures these boards perform better on large waves where the board skims over the water instead of relying on the board’s inherent buoyancy.
Another feature-specific element of dedicated surfboards is the narrow tail design, making the board more responsive to foot pressure when turning.
On the other hand, all round SUP boards work well in a variety of conditions, and, if chosen correctly, they can double nicely as a surfing SUP.
The trick to find an all round board that works well for you in the surf is to find the sweet spot of length, width, and thickness that checks off all your personal boxes.
After the shape, the next critical element to consider from a SUP for surfing is the length.
In general, shorter boards are more responsive and easier to maneuver on a wave, But if the board is too truncated, you may struggle to catch a wave in the first place.
So, for beginners, it’s recommended that you choose a longboard style SUP, ensuring you keep your balance and don’t tip over.
If you are already an experienced surfer, you’ve more options and can choose whether you want a longboard-style SUP or a quick, shortboard style, perfect for carving and tearing down the line.
That said, the best surfing boards are usually at least ten feet long and 30-32 inches wide.
Surfing SUPs are available in either hard body or inflatable options.
The choice of either boils down to personal preference. If budget and storage are a priority, you’re better off selecting an inflatable.
Beyond the storage and portability convenience, inflatables are also well suited for surfing because they offer a softer landing.
However, as you gain experience, you might find that you struggle to catch bigger waves on an inflatable and would rather have a solid board.
Hardboards are also a perfect fit for surfing as the rails’ sculpted shape makes the board more amenable to surfing maneuvers. Using a hardboard resembles an original surfboard, and it offers more speed on the wave and greater control when turning and making adjustments.
When it comes to durability, it’s easier to think the inflatable is inferior and lacks toughness. But, that’s far from the case since the military-grade PVC construction on the inflatables is equally as solid and sturdy as the EPS foam on the hard shells.
While the board’s dimensions and shape are among the essential factors to consider when choosing a board, the fin set up can help you tune and even transform the overall performance of your equipment.
The most basic fin set up consists of a single long center fin. Having a single fin creates the least drag and will work well for boards optimized for surfing.
The rails are more rounded on inflatables, which contributes to a less demanding performance than the narrower rails of the hardboards, so additional assistance from fins is essential.
Adding extra fins alongside the center fin is necessary to contribute to the rider’s ability to control the board in the absence of the hardrails.
For this reason, we would recommend you invest in a surfing SUP that allows you to add more fins for extra traction, but has the flexibility of being used with a single or no fin when you need speed.
SUPs for surfing necessitate some of the same features as traditional surfboards, but one essential component is the leash.
A surf leash is vital to prevent you from losing your board after a wipeout or paddling through the shore break.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
All our reviewed options are exciting and have something to offer surfers.
However, we feel the ISLE Airtech 10′ Paddle Board takes the crown for the best paddleboard for surfing for several reasons, as below.
First, it’s an all-around option, perfectly suited for a variety of water activities. If surfing isn’t the only watersport on your wish list, the ISLE Airtech 10′ Paddle Board may be an inspiring option since it will also let you participate in yoga, recreational paddling, and surfing.
The ISLE Airtech 10′ Paddle Board also comes with various features to support the sport for dedicated surfers.
It’s long and wide enough, so it glides over the water with ease and lets you catch the waves without the risk of falling.
While it’s not suitable for pro surfers, the excellent stability makes it a great option for both beginners and intermediate surfers.