hand drawn illustration of beach board

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR FIRST SURFBOARD

When you take up surfing, there’s a switch that quickly turns it into passion. Once you’ve ridden one good wave, you feel the “stoke” that makes you want to do it all over again. It’s normal to describe surfing as addictive, and that is exactly the reason why you want to buy your first surfboard.

There are factors to consider when figuring out what the best surfboards for beginners are. This post serves as the definitive guide to help you pick the right one suited for your skill level.

Before we get into the details, always remember to value performance over aesthetics. Walking around with a sick board has probably crossed your mind, but this mindset won’t help your surfing at all. You might look cool in photos, but you’ll probably suck in the water. Don’t rush into purchasing the most attractive board you’ll find because chances are you’ll end up buying the wrong one.

There are two things to note in buying your first beginner surfboard. First, it should perform well and of course, it should improve your surfing.

Continue reading to know all the factors you need about consider before you buy a your first surfboard.

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KNOW THE BEST TYPES OF SURFBOARDS FOR BEGINNERS

Your surf instructor must have already briefed you about the parts of the surfboard – deck, nose, tail, etc – and their function in the water. As a learner you only need to know the different board types so you’ll know what to look for. It always helps to know and understand structure, shape, and how boards perform for all types of waves.

SOFT TOP SURFBOARDS

During your first surf lesson, your instructor might have recommended using a foam board and there are many reasons why. Soft tops, foam boards, or “foamies,” are perfect for beginners because of its lightweight and ding-proof qualities.

Foam boards are incredibly buoyant and they allow beginners to catch waves easily while offering stability. The soft material minimizes chances of surf-related accidents, which is probably this beginner board’s best advantage.

Foamies are relatively cheaper compared to hard top surfboards, you can resell these for a decent value. Companies that manufacture foamies are Catch Surf (Odysea), Surf Tech, and Liquid Shredder.

LONGBOARD

Longboards are thick, wide, and can deliver maximum fun even in the smallest or worst conditions. These are the easiest surfboards to ride, and they vary in width, thickness, and fin set-up. As a beginner, you would want a thruster (3-fin) set-up to experience stability and balance.

Longboards typically measure between 8 to 9.5 feet, though some wish to ride longer boards for logging purposes. Getting a longboard is ideal if you want to increase your wave count with each session.

For safety purposes, consider starting with something smaller for lesser risk of hitting other people in the water. You can go for a bigger board as you progress and master longboarding.

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FUNBOARDS OR MINI-MAL

If you find a longboard difficult to control in the water, you can go for a Mini-mal surfboard. Easy to paddle and carry, mini-mals go between 7 to 8.6 feet in length. They work well for beginners who want the stability of a longboard but with extra maneuverability.

Mini-mals are perfect if you have the intention of riding smaller boards in the future. These boards serve as “go between” boards that contribute to your progress. These are the best learning boards for children and smaller adults, being more compact compared to longboards.

FISH

Fish surfboards are outlined for smaller waves like shortboards but wider, thicker and with more rocker (curve at the nose of the board). These boards go with 2, 3 or 4 fins (twin, thruster or quad) with a fish tail or swallow tail.

If you’ve been surfing a while and feel that you can take on bigger wave, a Fish surfboard could work great for you. Intermediate to advanced surfers use fish surfboards or hybrid surfboards (combination of fish and shortboards) 4 inches below their height to have fun in small waves, but now there are bigger fish boards made for beginners who want to do more turns and carving than what longboards and mini-mals would allow.

Once setting on a board that’s best for you, you will notice your surfing progress—all depending on how often you surf, of course. As you develop a surfing style, you will naturally determine the kinds of nail, rocker, tail, concaves, and fin setup that work well for your movements in the water.

KNOW WHAT YOUR LEARNING SURFBOARD IS MADE OF

There are main types of surfboard materials, and those are fiberglass, epoxy, foam, and wood. While fiberglass boards are the easiest to find, foam and epoxy surfboards are the best materials for beginner surfboards.

FIBERGLASS

Fiberglass boards have been around for more than 50 years, and are considered the most traditional and popular. They are machine-shaped into precision and are finished through hand shaping and glassing for a glossy or matte sheen. The boards are made with polyurehane for the inner part, which is wrapped in fiberglass cloth. While fiberglass boards are the easiest and cheapest ones to fix, they tend to be more prone to dings and other damages.

EPOXY

Epoxy surfboards started going around in the early 1990’s but only gained popularity in 2005. These surfboards have a polystyrene foam core and are coated with epoxy resin, hence its name.

Epoxy boards are known to be more durable and lighter. They also offer more buoyancy compared to fiberglass boards. If you want to take learning seriously, an epoxy longboard or mini-mal would be ideal in many ways. They’re easier to paddle and less susceptible to dings or water logging.

FOAM

Soft top surfboards are made from bodyboard (boogie board) foam material shaped into a surfboard. They are light and are considered the cheapest kinds of boards.

Foamies are easy to find in surf shops all over Bali, and in surf spots around the world. Since there is already a lot of grip on the foam, there’s no need to wax these boards. This is the kind of surfboard you want if you only plan to surf a few times each year.

WOOD

Wooden surfboards are usually hollow and made from balsa or paulownia wood, and are used by more advanced surfers. While they are pretty to look at and are eco-friendly, these are not ideal for beginners.

UNDERSTAND VOLUME FOR PADDLING POWER

The most important thing to consider when buying your first surfboard is its volume.

A surfboard’s volume is measured based on its dimensions – length, width and thickness. Volume is the actual space the surfboard has and it is usually measured in liters (L).

A typical longboard would have a volume of between 60 to 100L, while a 7’ mini-mal could go from 50 to 50L.

Knowing your board’s volume is important because it gives you an idea how big the boards are. The volume also distinguishes how much floating and paddling power it will give you.

Keep a simple rule in mind – the bigger the volume, the easier it is to paddle and the easier it is to catch waves.

Here’s a volume calculator to help you find the right board based on your weight and skill.

WEIGHT BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE
Below 55kg 35.90L – 45.50L 31L – 38.50L
55-65 kg 47.95L – 54.20L 40.25L – 45.10L
65 -75 kg 52.20L – 61L 45.10 – 50.50L
75 – 85 kg 61L – 67.80L 50.50L – 55.90L
85 – 95 kg 67.80L – 76.40L 55.90 – 61.30L
95 kg and above 76.40L – 84.80L 61.30 – 81.40L

DON'T GO SHORT!

One of the biggest temptations for beginner surfers is to skip the longboard training and go for shortboards immediately. But this is probably the worst thing you can do for your surfing.

Going for shortboards will stunt your progress on all aspects: floating, paddling, timing, popping up, catching a wave, staying on your feet, and trimming lines.

Surfing is a hard sport. It takes a lot of time and patience for a learner to switch from long to shortboards.Once you feel like you can’t turn as tight or go as fast, it could be time to go some inches shorter.

MATCH YOUR WEIGHT WITH THE SIZE YOUR SURFBOARD

You might have used a longboard during your first surf lesson, but size will matter as you learn to turn and trim the wave. Your weight should be proportional to your beginner board’s length and it should let you gain speed when you need it.

Below is a chart that maps out the best surfboard size for beginners and intermediate surfers based on body weight.

WEIGHT BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE
Below 55kg 6’8″ – 7’2″ 6’8” – 7’0”
55-65 kg 7’2″ – 7’6″ 6’10” – 7’2”
65 -75 kg 8’0″ – 8’6″ 6’10” – 7’2”
75 – 85 kg 8’6″ – 9’2″ 7’6” – 8’0”
85 – 95 kg 9’2″  – 9’6″ 7’6” – 8’0”
95 kg and above 9’6″ and above 7’6” – 8’0”

THINK ABOUT HOW OFTEN YOU WANT TO SURF

The only way to get better at surfing is to do it as often as you can, but we know this is not always possible. Even if that’s the case, estimate how much time you’re willing to dedicate to surfing as a meter to help you pick the best beginner surfboard.

How often do you surf? Then you should get a:
Once or twice a year Foamboard
5 to 7 days a year Foam Board, Longboard
Once every month Longboard, Mini-mal
Every week, daily Longboard, Mini-mal, Fish
95 kg and above 9’6″ and above

WHERE TO BUY BEGINNER BOARDS IN BALI

Shop wisely and go cheap

Your first surfboard should not be expensive. There’s no reason why you should splurge on a board that you will eventually outgrow. Consider buying something not more than 6 million IDR for your first board.

Aside from being a surf haven, Bali is a great place to purchase your first surfboard.

A Ruling in Kuta Beach, Studio Repair in South Kuta, Sumi Surfboards and BGS Bali are reputable shops where you can get boards decently priced at 4.5 million IDR and 6 million IDR for a hard-top longboard.

EXPERIENCED SURF INSTRUCTORS CAN GUIDE YOU ON BUYING YOUR FIRST SURFBOARD

Falling in love with surfing always begins with an unforgettable first lesson from competent instructors.

Surf instructors can give proper coaching in and out of the water, and they can assess levels correctly. Instructors also give valuable feedback, including which beginner boards to buy.

Dawn Patrol Bali Surf School has surf lesson packages for beginners ideal for those who want to pursue surfing in all levels; whether you’re in it for the fun, or if you’re trying  to progress after a few sessions.

If you’ve always been curious what it’s like to surf, a beginner surf package at Dawn Patrol Bali is the perfect stepping stone to reach that goal.

Now that you know all the important factors on choosing the right surfboards for beginners, all you need to do is find one that’s perfect for you. We’d  love to help you out!

Our goal at Dawn Patrol Bali is to give learners the ultimate surfing experience, including finding your first surfboard.

Write your questions about buying your first surfboard at the comment section or contact us directly. Don’t forget to leave us a rating if you liked this post.

Happy surfing!

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in surfing with Dawn Patrol Bali! We guarantee a fun experience! To make a booking, please tell us your interested dates, No of students & surf level and we will get back to you with all pricing/packages and other information required about your excursion. Yeww!