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The SPY Guide to the Best Surfboards for Beginners

So you’ve just gotten to the beach and you’re itching to check out this crazy sport called surfing that everyone seems to love. But what’s the difference between a beginner surfboard and one that pro surfers use?

Fiberglass boards are made of foam and resin coated on top, which creates a solid surface. They’re better for high-performance surfing, like pulling airs and turns. Beginners should use foam boards, or soft tops, preferably 8ft or 10ft in length.

These soft-top surfboards are more durable, softer to land on when you wipe out and easier on your wallet. When you start your surfing adventure, you’ll need three important things: a wetsuit, a foam board, and a proper surfboard leash. So if you’re searching for the best surfboards for beginners, keep reading and check out our best options for soft foam boards below.


1. WaveStorm

Often a popular choice at rental shops and surf camps, the Wave Storm can be purchased cheaply at your local Costco for $179. A smooth, lightweight foam board, this model will get you up and surfing a wave quickly. It fits directly into most cars because of its smaller size (relative to some of the more mammoth boards on our list).

The Wave Storm it’s a great option for beginners because it’s soft, doesn’t require any wax and is so thick that balancing on a wave won’t be difficult. Plus, thanks to its massive size, catching a wave will prove to be easy as well.

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Courtesy of Amazon


2. Almond R Series 

Almond Surfboards have broken their way onto the scene with sleek and stylish black foam boards aimed at beginners. While classic and beautifully crafted, what sets these boards apart from other surfboards for beginners is their ability to carry the rider from wave to shore. The 8′ foot foam board may be expensive for a beginner board, but its flawless rim design and tail work make it worth it. Every beginner deserves a notable board to practice on and since it’s foam, don’t worry about scuffing it up. That’s where the black comes in handy, it won’t show any scuffs or bumps on the surface. Take out an Almond R series and become a pro in no time.

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Almond Surfboards


3. Channel Islands: The Water Hog

Channel Islands has a plethora of beautiful boards that differ in function and shape but the Water Hog is your go-to for the best beginner fiberglass board. It comes in a range of sizes from 6’4 to 8’6 but the design stays the same so as you progress from a longboard to a shortboard, the transition will be smooth. There’s nothing worse than becoming adept at a certain style of board while you’re learning, just to give it all up and relearn a new design. Stick with the Water Hog until you’re a proficient surfer and you’ll have a grand old time.

Editor’s Note: I learned on a Water Hog (10 years ago) and I still keep it in regular rotation. I’ve surfed MANY a surfboard over the years, but nothing is as consistent and useful as the Water Hog.

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Courtesy of CI Surfboards


4. Scallywag 8’6 Soft Top

With an infamous gold paint job, how can you go wrong with a board named the Scallywag? At 8 feet, 6 inches, this is a great board for beginners and the thick composite frame will help you stand up and balance which will boost your confidence. Most of surfing is confidence, so if you’re in need of some, get yourself a sweet board that will make you look good and feel good because once you master the balancing act on the wave, you’ll be eager to try out fiberglass boards and reef breaks. Check out the Scallywag if you’re up for a hot summer of surfing.

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Courtesy of Jacks Surfboards


5. Boardworks Froth 9′ foot Soft Top

A fun and versatile soft top is all you need to start surfing and the Boardworks Froth measures up for its thick sides and depth of foam. This board will keep you buoyant as you learn the risky business of standing up en route on a wave and the best part is, it won’t knock you around like a fiberglass board. Soft tops are ideal for beginners because of their durability and foam core. So paddle out and have fun on a Boardworks Froth.

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Courtesy of Amazon


6. SouthBay Board Co

This soft top is a unique game-changer: instead of a flat, soft surface, it has bumps or ridges along its surface for easy control on the wave. When you’re out there with a big wave coming at you, these fingertip grips will really help you feel in control while you navigate the ocean and paddle into the wave. Another perk is never having to apply surf wax. Other foam boards require wax for a better grip, but this one is always ready to ride. Another unique feature is the closed-cell technology: it prevents water from soaking into the foam, which would make it heavier over time. Coming in at just 15 pounds, this water-tight board will be a great choice for beginners and kids. A bit on the pricier side, this board is priced around $395-$439.

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7. Catch Surf Odysea Log-Jaime O-Brien Surfboard

The Catch Surf Odysea surfboard is a great foam board for beginners or for more advanced surfers looking for a versatile, lightweight board. With three stingers to hold the board in place beneath the foam, it is very durable and likely won’t splinter if you crash it into the sand or into a pylon on the pier. Don’t be afraid to get pumping on this board, it won’t let you down. With a squash tail, it will give you some speed as you cruise into the wave. With a slick HDPE bottom to help you glide, this 8-foot foam board will be a sure summer enhancer.

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Courtesy of Catch Surf


8. Liquid Shredder 7-foot Fun Board

A funboard is the awkward size in between a longboard and a shortboard usually in the 7-foot range. The Liquid Shredder is exactly 7 feet which is a great size for those looking to move up or down a size without taking a big leap. It’s also a great board for those seeking sharper turns and easier slides with quick fin flashes. The Liquid Shredder has a smooth bottom and a foam top for a firmer grip — no wax required. Take this board out for the summer and hone your skills in the water.

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Courtesy of Amazon


9. Kona Surf Co. Beginner’s Foamboard

The Kona SurfCo. has created a unique beginners board. It has removable fins and comes with a leash. As a foam board, it’ll be easy to learn on in smaller waves and still be a lot of fun when a bigger set comes in. With various lengths available from 7 feet to 9 feet, this is a versatile board that can be enjoyed all summer by the entire family or throughout the year for beginners.

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Courtesy of Amazon