Friday, 23 March 2007 | Tags: , , ,

Whether you're an expert at hanging ten or just learning to keep your balance, a good surfboard can make a difference to your experience on the water. Here's what we found out about buying a board.

The Basics

  • There are a few different types of boards to choose from:

    • Shortboards (or thrusters) are the most popular, varying in length from about 5’8” to 6’10”, with three that help when performing quick maneuvers.

    • Longboards (or Malibu boards) usually only has one fin and a rounded nose. A good choice for beginners.

    • A fish board is shorter, between 4’8” to 5’10”, but wider than a shortboard, is better for using in smaller surf.

    • A gun board is longer than a longboard, anywhere between 7’2” to 12’, and is best used for really BIG waves because it’s easier to paddle out further. They are usually narrow but quite thick with very pointy tails, which helps them hold in the face of the wave.

  • The best surfboards are custom shaped by hand from foam and then finished with a fiberglass or resin/epoxy coating.

  • For beginners, consider a softboard or foamie. They’re more buoyant and help you catch waves easier. They’re also softer if you get hit on the head (which often happens). Children should start on a 6’ board, adults on 8-9’ boards.

  • For the most stability (especially for beginners), choose a wider and thicker board.

Other Considerations

  • Buying a used surfboard is the cheapest option. Keep these tips in mind so you don’t end up with a dud:

    • Check for dings and cracks. A few is to be expected on a used board but if they’re plentiful and deep, keep looking.

    • Discoloured areas mean there has been water damage.

    • Check carefully around the fins, especially where the fins are attached to the board – there shouldn’t be any cracks.

    • Check the wear and tear on the leash. They need to be replaced every so often.


As beginners, we took some surf lessons in Maui, Hawaii and tested out these three boards:

  • Surf Tech (foam soft top): $550
  • Kazuma (fibreglass): $800
  • Robert August (epoxy): $1100

Surf Test

  • We found the Surf Tech was definitely the easiest to learn on, but we quickly outgrew it.

  • For us beginners, once we got our “surf legs”, the Robert August was easiest to get up.


While the soft Surf Tech was definitely easy to learn on, we soon graduated to a non-beginner board. Our favourite was the Robert August epoxy board. It was wide and buoyant, so still easy for us newbies to catch a wave. For beginners, we recommend renting a surfboard first, until you become experienced enough to purchase something beyond a beginner board. 

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