The Different Types of Surfboards

The day is perfect- the sun is blazing, not a cloud to be seen,and the waves are rolling in. You watch as others grab their boards and dive in. They shriek with delight as they ride the waves. You want to too. You want to feel that salty spray, feel the water's power surge beneath you. There is just a small glitch in your plan, though: You don't own a surfboard and have no idea which kind is the best to buy.

Fret not; in this article, I'll go over the types of surfboards and the benefits to each one. But to understand the types of surfboards, you first need to understand their key parts.

Key Parts

The Skeg/Fin is the curved piece located underneath the board, near the back. It is used for stability and balance which allows for easier and safer maneuvering of the board (Club of the Waves).

The Rocker is the boards bottom curve. There are three types of Rockers, and they can all greatly impact your surfing experience. If the board is curved more, it has enhanced mobility, but decreased speed. This makes it ideal for the larger waves where it is more important to be able to move than to be fast. There are also boards that have Rockers that are less curved; these are the exact opposite of the curved Rockers. They have greater speed, but lessened mobility. The boards are best for the smaller surf. The third option is a neutral Rocker that works in all types of waves (Club of the Waves).

Now, onto the boards themselves.


This is the board used in competitions. As it is designed for speed and mobility and has a more curved Rocker, it is generally used by advanced surfers. Length wise, it is under seven feet and width wise, it is between sixteen and nineteen inches. The Shortboard completely changed the competition world in the 1970's. Today, it remains the go-to board for surfers who want to push the envelope (SurfScience, Club).


This board has been nicknamed the 'log' or 'cruizer'. Coming in at eight to twelve feet in length, twenty inches long, and two and half inches wide, this board is vastly different from the Shortboard. Lacking it's maneuverability, the Longboard is able to catch waves easily and paddle without difficulty. This makes it the ideal board for the beginning surfer. Or beginning surfers, as this board allows for tandem surfing. Potential date night (SurfScience, Club)?


This board is the metaphorical child of the Shortboard and the Longboard. It is between six and eight feet long and ranges from twenty to twenty-two inches wide. The Funboard paddles like the Longboard and turns like the Shortboard. It is the obvious choice for those surfers who want to transition from the Longboard to the Shortboard (SurfScience, Club).


This first became widely used in the 1970's. Because of it's shorter and wider build (eighteen to twenty-two inches long and five feet, two inches to six feet, four inches wide), it is ideal for spongy surf. Optimal for small to mid-size waves, the Fish was designed to improve wave catching while still retaining mobility and speed. It's minimal Rocker allows for swiftness in flat waves (SurfScience, Club).


Like its name suggests, this is a board for a serious surfer who want to ride the giant waves. It is narrow and can reach up to ten feet in length. Because of this, the surfer is able to easily and swiftly paddle to the large waves and handle the steep drops. Only experieced surfers should attempt to use this board in its intended capacity (SurfScience, Club, Surfing Site).


This board is sometimes called, the Mini-Mal. Akin to the Longboard in regards to the way it handles the waves and its shape, the Malibu differs in one way: thinner and shorter, its turns are more precise (Club).


Dubbed 'foamies' or 'softboards,' these are used in surf schools or by beginners. Because they are made of foam, it hurts less when you fall. Other benefits to Foamboards is that they are stable, not difficult to balance on, and, compared to other boards, simpler to catch the waves on (Club).

Body/boogie board

This is one of the most recognizable boards on this list. At some point in their lives, everyone has either seen or used one of these foam contraptions. Only about the length of an adult torso, the surfer lies down on them and proceeds to propel themselves through the water. You can try and catch some small waves or simply float. Bodyboards are typically used by families or people just looking to have some easy fun at the beach (Club).


This board is exactly as its name says it is: a mix of the traits of two or more surfboards. The most common of these combinations is the mix of the Fish and the Shortboard. The balance and tail of the former is meshed with the traits of the latter (SurfScience).

Lesser Known

The next type of board is more a grouping. As you get more involved in the surfing community, you'll hear about lesser known boards. Some of these include the Alaia, the SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), and the Tow In Surfboard. The latter is fast becoming the prime board for surfers who ride the big waves. On this board, the traditional characteristics have been modified to greatly increase its speed. The Alaia is an extremely thin, finless board, typically made out of Polonia. A reverse Rocker increases its speed. The Stand Up Paddle board is exactly what it says it is. You stand on the board and paddle. It's that simple. Perhaps because of this- and the fact that you can take it out on flat days- it has risen in popularity. Like the Longboard, it is a good tool for beginning surfers.

Of course, these are not all of the lesser known boards. Each year, new types of surfboards are created, tested, and refined. Surfing is an ever changing art, one that requires understanding and dedication. When choosing your board, keep that in mind. Choose wisely and happy surfing!

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