Best surfboards for beginners: start surfing with foam and longboards
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Surf’s up this summer – and if you fancy riding a wave or two, you’re going to need a reliable surfboard.
Surfing England reported a boom in the number of newbies taking to the sea in 2021 to learn the art of riding on water, and if you’re among those surf-mad beginners you’re probably thinking about investing in your first surfboard to hit the beach with.
Our guide to seven of the best will have you hanging ten in no time.
Best beginner’s surfboards at a glance
- Best intermediate foam board: Olaian Foam Surfboard
- Best taller foam board: Surfworx Banshee Hybrid Surfboard
- Best for surfers keen to progress: Torq Tet Mod Fun Surfboard
- Best affordable longboard: Decathlon Olaian 900 Longboard
- Best beginner minimal: Tahe Bic Surfboard
- Best beginner foam board: Softech Roller Surfboard
- Best shorter foam surfboard: Osprey Foam Surfboard
Surfboards come in lots of shapes and sizes to suit different abilities, but the two types that are best suited to beginners are foam boards and ‘Mini Mal’ (or Mini Malibu) boards.
Do I want a foam board (’foamie’) or hard board?
Foam boards, as their name suggests, are made with a soft foam top – this is more buoyant than a harder boards, and more forgiving for beginners who may lose control of a board in the sea. ‘Foamies’ are best for complete beginners and for kids, as they can take knocks and scratches in their stride.
They’re also the most affordable beginner board. Surfers who are progressing their skills or have already had a set of lessons may prefer to get started on a ‘hard’ board such as a Mini Mal design – these are usually around 7-8ft and are great for beginner-to-intermediate surfers as they have a wide shape and rounded nose that make catching waves easier.
What size should my surfboard be when I’m starting to learn?
Size wise, a beginner surfboard should always be taller than you. Smaller surfers can shop for boards 6ft and over, while taller surfers will get on with designs that are 7ft and over. Taller beginners keen to cruise smaller waves can also try a 9ft longboard for size.
What else should I look for in a surfboard?
When shopping for a board, you’ll also need to make sure it comes with three detachable fins (these help steer the board).
A leash, which goes around your ankle and attaches to the board to stop you losing it when you fall off, may also be sold separately.
A protective carry bag with a shoulder strap is also a handy purchase for transporting your new board, and for storing it safely at home.
A great dry robe is also handy if you like heading to the beach.
Decathlon Olaian Foam Surfboard
A Malibu shape meets the softness of foam in Decathlon’s beginner-friendly board, which at 7’8ft will suit taller surfers well.
This cheerful blue board has a jazzy print on its underside and comes complete with a leash and three fins, so you’re ready to hit the water from the get-go.
This is a versatile design that makes catching small waves easy, so it’s good option if you’re after a foam board that you can progress your skills with.
If you do graduate to a hard board, this will still be a nice board to keep in your quiver for having fun with on smaller surf days.
Surfworx Banshee Hybrid Surfboard
Designed to be comfortable for beginners to ride the very first time they try surfing, the Banshee Hybrid has a soft and forgiving deck that takes knocks and scrapes in its stride, and a wide shape and nose that make attempting to stand up easier.
The soft top and rubber safety fins will further protect beginners if they do fall off.
Although it’s a foamie, this board is still solid enough to make it perform more like a ‘hard’ board, so it’s suitable for progressing on before you buy a more advanced board.
A 7ft model is aimed at children and shorter adults, while the 8ft is ideal for taller adults. Fins, leash and board bag are all included, so all you need to do is find the nearest surf beach.
Torq Tet Mod Fun Surfboard
Torq describe their all-rounder of a hard board as suitable for ‘all levels of surfers in virtually every condition’.
This is indeed a versatile board, as three sizes – 6’8, 7’2 and 7’6 – are available, so you can pick the height that suits you.
If you’ve graduated from foamies and want to work on catching more challenging waves, this is a good, predictable board to progress with without worrying too much about what the conditions are like each day.
Tiki Surf also offer a bundle discount if you buy a surf bag and leash along with the Tet Mod Fun.
Decathlon Olaian 900 Longboard
If you fancy branching out into longboard surfing (longboards are surfboards over 9ft and with a single fin, and offer a different, more languid style of surfing, but due to their larger size are still suitable for beginners to practise with), Decathlon’s hard-deck 900 longboard is a great first purchase.
A 9ft and a 9’4ft version are available, and both will suit longboarders of all experience levels heading out in smaller waves, even allowing more for more developed skills such as nose riding.
Tahe Bic Surfboard
Bic’s Tahe is a great choice if you want to own something more advanced than foam but that will still let you practise the basic skills of surfing safely.
Lightweight and buoyant, and with a round nose that makes catching waves easier, this is a confidence-giving Mini Mal surfboard suitable for catching smaller waves and for progressing out of the white water to riding green waves.
The Tahe comes in various sizes and they all sit at affordable prices, so purchasing your first proper board needn’t cost the earth.
Softech Roller Surfboard
The Roller used to be sold under the moniker the ‘Original Funboard’ – we reckon it’s a pity the name has changed, as it’s a great description of this easy-going design.
A foam deck and rounded nose will suit beginners, while the Mini Mal shape is easy to catch waves on even if you’re still learning the ropes.
There’s a carry handle to save the faff of lugging your surfboard to the waves under your arm, and lots of bright and cheery colourways are available.
An easy option for total beginners.
Osprey Foam Surfboard
This good-looking Osprey board isn’t actually made of wood – the deck is a soft and comfy-to-lie-on foam with a wood-effect film.
A rounded nose and a square tail make for easy manoeuvrability in small waves, and the foam top feels forgiving when you inevitably end up falling off it!
This 7ft board is suitable for children, teenagers and shorter adults, and at under £200 it’s affordable if you want a board for casual use on holidays and trips to the seaside rather than having to splash the cash on something more advanced.
An 8’2ft version is also available.