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Ask any surfer why they love the sport and they’ll probably start gushing (in quasi-spiritual terms) about the mind-body benefits of riding waves. And, as ridiculous as they might sound, they have a point: surfing is seriously healthy, offering a meditative, full-body, low-impact workout that leaves us feeling amazing. Plus, as long as you can find a beach with waves, all you need to get started is a great wetsuit or boardshorts and one of the best surfboards.
Like any sport, choosing the right gear can make or break your surfing experience. The best surfboards are not the fanciest or coolest-looking: they’re the ones best suited to your ability and the surf conditions. For beginners and beginner-intermediate surfers, that means a bigger board that’s easy to stand up on in smaller, less powerful waves.
Below is a brief guide to choosing the best surfboard as a beginner or intermediate surfer, plus a few examples of the best beginner-intermediate surfboards that you can order online.
How to Choose the Best Surfboard
There’s a lot to learn about surfboards, from basics like length and style to more advanced details like volume, rocker, and tail shape, but we’ve stuck to the basics for our guide. If you’re a beginner or beginner-intermediate surfer, here are some of the key considerations to think about when buying your first or second surfboard.
Shape: When deciding on the best surfboard as a beginner-intermediate surfer, you’ll generally encounter four main surfboard shapes: longboards, funboards, fish boards, and (maybe) eggs or hybrid boards.
Longboards are around nine feet long, lending the most stability of any board. Funboards are also very stable but slightly smaller (usually around seven feet long), which makes them easier to navigate and position before you catch a wave. Beginner fish boards, eggs, and hybrid boards should all be around roughly the length of your height, and provide more maneuverability once you’ve learned to pop up with ease.
If you’re a beginner, we recommend sticking to longboards and funboards.
Material: The best surfboards come in a few different materials. Polyurethane (PU) and Epoxy surfboards with a hard resin coating are the most common. However, many beginners opt for a soft-top foam board. These are much more durable (they won’t ding or break if dropped), and they don’t hurt if you get hit during a wipeout.
Fin Setup: Surfboards can have anywhere from one to five fins. The most common fin setups are a single fin on longboards and a thruster/tri-fin setup on shorter boards. A large main fin (as you find on longboards) will help with stability, and more fins will increase mobility.
Also, be aware that there are two types of fix boxes — single tab and dual tab — which means the fin box has either one or two screws that hold the fins in the box. The fin brand Futures makes single tab fins, and the brand FCS makes dual tab fins. If your new surfboard doesn’t come with fins, check what kind of fin box it has before buying fins.
The Best Surfboards to Buy Online
If you’re confused by all the specifics of buying a surfboard, don’t worry: choosing the best surfboard is easier than it sounds. Below are some of the best surfboards for beginner and intermediate surfers that you can order online right now.
Best Surfboards for Beginners
1. Softech Roller Longboard
For first-timers, this Softech Roller longboard is probably the best surfboard you can get. It features a high-volume EPS foam core that provides more than enough stability — whether you’re learning to pop up or finding your footing — and the eight-foot longboard shape is great for learning to maneuver a surfboard.
This high volume also means the board will float easier, letting beginners paddle quickly and ride small waves. Because it’s foam, you don’t have to worry about board-to-body injuries, and a built-in handhold on the deck makes the board easier to carry than most longboards.
2. Modern Surfboards Retro Longboard
Although some beginners feel safer with a foam board, hard-top longboards are smoother, faster, and more stable, which means they can actually be easier for learning. If you want to go that route (maybe you’ve had a surf lesson or two), check out this Retro longboard from Modern Surfboards.
Inspired by old-school longboards, the sled is beefy, flat, and single-fined. This makes for the most solid, stable ride possible, which is just what you want while learning to pop up and stay upright. But, because it’s a hard-top longboard, you can keep it for decades and break it out when the surf is small — even after mastering the sport.
3. Wavestorm 8ft Classic
The Wavestorm is maybe the most popular beginner board for good reason. It’s very easy to find (this one is on Amazon), very inexpensive at just over $200, and you can throw it on the pavement without a ding or fall on it without an injury. In the water, the Wavestorm is lightweight and forgiving, letting you figure out the basics and learn to navigate the surf. It also comes with a leash and fins, and doesn’t require wax, so you can pull it out of the box and start surfing.
4. The Critical Slide Society All Rounder Longboard
Another great hard longboard to consider is this All Rounder from The Critical Slide Society. With a big, stable design, it’s a classic longboard that’s great for beginners riding smaller, mushier waves. We also like the 2 + 1 fin box, which lets you use a large single fin setup or a three-fin setup once you start learning to turn. Plus, the dark green paint job looks great too (you could even hang it in your living room as storage/decor).
Best Surfboards for Intermediate Surfers
5. Modern Surfboards Falcon
If you’ve more or less figured out how to pop up and ride a wave, this Falcon from Modern Surfboards makes a great step up. The 6’4,” 6’8,” or 7’ options are all good, depending on your size and ability. Compared to the classic “log” longboards above, you’ll notice more maneuverability thanks to the smaller size, increased rocker, and thruster fin setup. At just under $500, the board is also relatively affordable, making it a great transitional board before you upgrade to a shortboard or fish.
6. Solid Surfboards The Throwback Fish
If you’re feeling confident in the water but not quite ready for a squirminess of a high-performance shortboard, check out this Throwback Fish from Solid Surfboards. It’s wider and slighter larger than a regular shortboard, allowing you to catch (and enjoy riding) smaller waves and paddle faster.
The fish’s quad-fin setup is great too. This lets you surf a classic two-fin setup or a quad-fin setup for more maneuverability. It comes in three length options (5’10,” 6,’ or 6’2”), and we suggest choosing the size that’s closest to your own height.