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Ultimate Guide to Beginner Surfboards

Every surfer starts off looking for beginner surfboards, and you've come to the right place! Here you will be able to get all the information you need to know and find that perfect board in our wide range of Beginner surfboards.

Selecting the perfect surfboard can be a challenge, with most surfing beginners falling into the trap of buying cheap rip offs that are brittle and fall apart. Luckily for you, Boardcave works with only the most credible shapers and has all the information and tools such as the Board Engine (above) to help you make the right choice. If you follow the World Surf League you're probably thinking about the high performance shapes you've seen and are wondering How short can you go? All we can say is take your time progressing into these shapes and you will be surfing better, quicker.

beginner surfer Beginner stoke! Photo: Craig Kolesky.

Qualities of a Great Beginner Surfboard

Let's start with the basics of what makes a surfboard a beginner surfboard.

The first thing you must understand is the dimensions of boards shaped for learning. The dimensions of a surfboard include the measurements of:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Thickness
  • Volume

You can find these measurements written on the backside of your board, and our innovative Board Engine is the single best method to ensure that the dimensions of your beginner surfboard are best suited for your body type and skill level of surfing.

However, when looking for the best beginner surfboards for sale, there are a few characteristics regarding dimensions that will always remain true.

The best surfboards for learning are those that are extremely stable and buoyant. This helps you to master your paddling abilities, and makes popping up and riding a small wave both possible and easy.

The two major types of boards that will fall under this category include 'funshapes' and 'longboards'. A funshape is any board that generally measures 6'ft 6'in-8" ft, and a longboard is considered any board that's length measures three feet over your head.


A beginner surfer should begin learning and honing in on their skills on a surfboard that is considered long in length. Any surfboard over 7" is ideal.

The increased measurement of length makes it so that the other dimensions are also larger, as more foam must go into shaping the beginner surfboard.

More foam equals more stability, and these surfboards are meant for catching the small waves necessary for learning and progressing.

A longboard is best if you have never surfed before, but someone who has the basics down, yet still considers themselves a beginner, may enjoy a funshape. Funshapes allow for more progression, and this means learning the basics of board control; turning, carves, hacks, and much more.


The width is measured from the widest point of one surfboard rail to the other. The wider the surfboard, the more of a stable deck this will provide when paddling and standing on a wave, and the increased foam again helps with buoyancy. A good width for beginner surfboards ranges between 22-24" in wide.


Thickness, as you may guess, is the measurement of how thick your surfboard is. If you grab the sides of your surfboard, you are holding onto its 'rails', and this is where you can feel how thick your board is.

Beginner surfboards should have a slightly pumped-up thickness, anywhere from 2.5-3". This provides the buoyancy needed to catch and ride small waves with ease. Too much thickness, however, can make the board slightly difficult to maneuver, but the good news is that most beginner surfboards are shaped with the proper thickness in mind.


Volume is the measurement, in liters, of essentially how much space your board takes up, specifically the amount of water it displaces. Volume can be tricky, as two surfboards can be shaped with the same exact dimensions, yet maintain different shapes and volumes.

Surfboards for beginners will have a higher volume than their progressive, shortboard counterparts that are meant for radical turns and experienced surfers.

The Board Engine (above) is the perfect tool to get your ideal surfboard volume recommended and automatically selected within a range of the most suitable shapes for you. If you want to know more about the Board Engine, view the video on How It Works.

What Type of Beginner Surfboard to Choose?

Now that you understand the basics of the dimensions, you still may question exactly what type of board is best for you. We briefly hit on funshapes and longboards, so let's further explain why these are the best choices.

Funshapes vs. Longboards

Which one do I buy?!

Know that funshapes and longboards both make excellent choices in beginner surfboards, but keep this in mind when deciding between the two:

A longboard will help to teach you the basics of surfing more so than a funshape. These basics include paddling, popping up, and riding straight on a wave. If you are brand new to surfing, then a longboard is a great call, especially because they can catch tiny, non-intimidating waves.

They get their nickname 'logs' for a reason, as these boards are heavy, buoyant, and extremely stable thanks to the increased surface area of the surfboard, like a log floating in the water.

Once you feel comfortable on a longboard, however, you may face a dilemma. What do I do next in terms of progression?

Longboards are great, but once you feel comfortable on them, learning how to ride down the face of a wave and perform basic turns can be challenging. Where their large size was once helpful, it may not hold you back.

Turning a longboard requires skill, as moving such large boards around in the water needs an understanding of board control, and getting a nine-foot plank to go right or left down a wave isn't easy at first.

This is why you may instead consider a funshape. They are still 'big' beginner surfboards compared to difficult-to-ride shortboards, but not quite as big, stable, and floaty as a longboard.

The basics of paddling and popping up will remain slightly more difficult with a funshape versus a longboard, but once you nail down those aspects, funshapes provide more versatility and opportunity to continue learning.

With a funshape, you can begin to feel how your body can control the varying turns and carves, and you will have a much more effortless time controlling the board to your liking. Funshapes are better for surfing large waves than a longboard, and this gives you more opportunity to test your skills against varying wave conditions and ride bigger waves with more aggression.

To sum it up:

  • Longboards are best for the basics of paddling, popping up, and riding a wave, but are difficult in furthering your progression.
  • Funshapes are slightly more difficult in terms of paddling, popping up, and riding a wave, but they provide a surfboard that can act as both a beginner surfboard that will allow for more progression into your turns, their versatility helping you to breach from a beginner surfer into an intermediate surfer.

beginner longboard Learning to surf on a longboard can help you progress fast and start experimenting with the joys of cross stepping and nose riding. Photo: Izzy Hobbs

The Different Kinds of Beginner Surfboards

Do you know the difference between a foamy and a fiberglass surfboard?

Soft Top Surfboards are the recommended choice for complete beginners. Their buoyancy and durability from bumps and bangs make them a perfect option for your family to take turns on. If you are serious about quickly becoming a good surfer, however then a fiberglass surfboard is the way to go. Their stability and paddle power are the perfect ingredients for fun, easy going surfing, given you take them out in the right surf.

Foamies, also known as soft tops, as their name implies, are surfboards that are shaped out of a special type of waterproof foam that requires no protective coating of fiberglass or epoxy. These surfboards are affordable, generally cheaper than fiberglass counterparts, and because of this, it can be argued that soft tops are the best surfboards for beginners.

With a soft top, you don't have to invest too much money when deciding if surfing is right for you, and people very much enjoy the option of capitalizing on a cheap beginner surfboard. This also helps a new surfer to not worry as much about damaging up their board when they fall, and is the safest option.

It takes time to learn board control, and beginner surfers often ditch their board to avoid incoming waves or other surfers. This is a huge danger to other surfers in the water, and to yourself, and a soft-top helps to negate this danger.

A lot of beginner surfers report feeling more comfortable on a soft top as well, as they aren't afraid of their board, and this provides confidence that propels your progression when learning.

A fiberglass or epoxy surfboard, on the other hand, aren't quite as stable as a foamy. They are much lighter, usually less thick, and with this, they are not as buoyant and easy to ride. The positives of these types of surfboards are derived from your ability to continue learning, as they are much more responsive to your turns in the water.

If you are willing to trade out a slightly more difficult learning curve for the chance of continuing your learning into your first big turns and cutbacks, or if you already have the basics of surfing down, then you will benefit from the heightened progressive abilities of a fiberglass board.

soft-top surfboard Soft-tops are fun and easy to ride for everyone. Sally Fitzgibbens on the Softech Roller. Photo: The Sauce

A Buyer's Guide to Beginner Surfboards

We have a ton of perfect beginner surfboards for sale on Boardcave. You can check out our entire collection of Beginner Surfboards here, but we are going to highlight some of our favorite beginner surfboards for you to check out!

The Best Soft Tops

These soft top choices are of incredible quality, perfect for learning, and even when you are past the learning stage, you will still enjoy the fun and lighthearted nature of the way they ride.

  1. MF - Super Soft
  1. INT - Classic

The Best Beginner Longboards

These longboards are the ticket to learning how to surf and to mastering old-school, mellow and stylish surfing. These are the boards that will last you a lifetime, and even when you're past learning, there are going to be plenty of small-waves days of which you can enjoy walking up and down the deck of these stable beginner surfboards.

  1. Robert August- What I Ride
  2. Noll- The Enduro
  3. Noll- Helix

The Best Overall Beginner Surfboards

For those of you somewhat new to surfing, yet who are ready to progress past the beginner surfer level and seek out their first turns, here are the best overall beginner surfboards to ride the wave of your surfing journey.

  1. Noll- Mid Size Egg
  2. T Patterson- Pill-2
  3. Panda-The Repeater
  4. Noll-Voyager

Let's Wrap it Up!

If you're here, then you're doing the right thing by seeking out answers to your questions regarding surfing.

Staying informed and learning about surfboards, surfboard shapes, and the different ways they affect surfing is the first best step you can take, so as you continue your search for the best beginner surfboard, never be afraid to ask questions!

Asking your friends to ride different shapes or watching videos may aid in shedding light on the varying mannerisms of different kinds of surfboards.

Chances are you'll be deciding on a longboard or a funshape, and a foamy versus a fiberglass or epoxy board. Just know that both are great choices, and think of the differences we have explained to help direct this choice. And the most important piece of all, have fun!

Although we are always technically learning, we only get to actually learn how to surf once, and this part of the surfing journey is something you will remember forever, so enjoy every minute of the process. I can guarantee that when you alas slide into your first barrel or your first big hack, you will look back on those beginning days with a huge sense of pride, accomplishment, and pure happiness.

beginner surfer The stoke never ends! Photo: Izzy Hobbs

Finally, when embarking on your journey as a newcomer to the world of surfing, the significance of well-chosen accessories cannot be overstated. Beyond the essentials of beginner surfboards, incorporating crucial items like surf ear plugs and surfboard bags can greatly enhance your experience. These accessories not only ensure comfort and protection but also aid in maintaining your gear's longevity. Equipping yourself with a reliable surfboard repair kit is a prudent move, empowering you to swiftly address any dings or wear. And let's not forget our collection of best surf leashes, serving as your lifeline to your board while navigating the waves. By prioritizing these accessories, you set the stage for a smooth and enjoyable introduction to the incredible world of surfing.

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