How to Choose a Surfboard

What is your experience level: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

  • Beginner: You have never tried surfing, or maybe you have gone out just a few times. Do you want to get into it a bit more and finally invest in a board of your own? If this is you, then you need a longer-size board, such as a longboard/mini mal. These boards are wide, stable and easy paddling, perfect for small days to get the feel for surfing a wave. The pro's make riding a shortboard look far too easy, but don’t be fooled into thinking that anyone can just skip straight to a small surfboard and suddenly hack and do airs with the best of them. Surfing is a life-long challenge and starting with the wrong board will translate into a long, hard struggle. If you learn the basics on a fun shape or longboard now, it will make the transition to a shorter board a lot easier.
  • Intermediate: You are comfortable in the water, riding and catching waves, maybe you’re getting bored of the mini mal you learned to surf on a few years ago. If shortboard shredding is what you seek, then you may want to step down from a longboard or mini-mal to something smaller, like a shortboard or fish. If you don’t want to jump down too much then look at a few fish or groveler boards. These are smaller boards that still hold a lot of volume in them but will be faster and more responsive in small-medium waves. These kind of boards are the best to help you transition from a mini mal to a short board. If longboarding is your steeze, then opt for a smaller, more performance-based longboard allowing you a bit more freedom and movement on the wave.
  • Advanced: You know who you are; no need for this guide as you know what you need! Go ahead – go shred!

What is your weight?

Weight is a very important factor in selecting a board. If you are a lighter person, (under 85kgs) then a smaller board will be easier for you to paddle and turn on rather than someone slightly heavier (90kgs +). Bigger is always better for learning. You can find our surfboard volume calculator below which takes into account your weight and ability. This table will give you a rough idea of what volume you'll need in your board, making the process of finding a board much easier. Remember, when in doubt, always go with a larger size surfboard.

If you're wondering what type of board goes with the recommended volume you come under, here's a rough guide of how these different types of board's volumes range:

  • Performance Boards:  20L - 40L
  • Fish Boards: 26 - 42L
  • Gun Board: 40 - 45L
  • Mini Mal: 40L - 60L
  • Longboard: 65L-80L

Although this volume chart will help us decide the volume we need in the board, it is not the only factor as these different shapes change the way the board rides in different conditions. When selecting the right board, the following should also be taken into account.

What is your board sports experience and fitness level?

Surfing is a sport that requires a lot of fitness. A strong, agile individual with lots of experience in other board sports, such as skateboarding, wakeboarding or snowboarding, should have no trouble at all jumping right into a short board or fish from the get-go, and be up and riding in no time. However, if you do not fit into this category you absolutely want to seek out a longer board, such as a mini-mall or longboard. This is because they have a lot more float, stability, and make catching waves a beginners dream in comparison. If you think you are somewhere in the middle, try a fun shape, a bigger style shortboard or a fish.

Even for someone who is very fit and has lots of experience with other board sports, it can take months of daily surfing to learn just the basics of the ocean, catching waves, and riding the face. Keep this in mind when choosing a board size so you can maximize your fun on the water.

What type of waves will you be riding with your surfboard?

You need to assess the types of waves you will be riding with your surfboard. Like most of us, you probably live where the waves are smaller - in the 1' to 4' range - most of the time. If your local break is slower and not so clean, then longboards and fish's will be better than a standard performance short board. If you want to try your hand at a steeper, hollower wave, then having a short board or smaller size board always helps, as they fit the geometry of the steep wave face better. Just remember, it’s not fun to grovel in 2′ slop, on a board that’s not big enough to hold you up. Maximize your fun and pick the correct board for the type of waves you will be riding.

Heres a chart to give you a rough idea what type of board you should be riding for what you want to do. Click on the chart links to view the type of boards you are interested in, then use the weight/ volume chart to figure out what volume/size surfboard will suit you best:

Wave Size Beginner Intermediate Advanced

Small Waves


Medium Waves


Large Waves

(6ft +)


Keeping all these tips in mind you should be able to find the perfect board for you. Now the only thing to do is grab that board and get out there!

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