Longboard vs. Shortboard: What’s the Difference?

You wouldn’t know it from the surf competitions and industry today, but surfing is one of the oldest sports in the world. It can be traced back 3,000 years to Western Polynesia where surfers were fishermen getting their catch to shore.

Today not only is it a competitive sport, but it is a full body work out that is the perfect pastime here in the San Diego area.

So you’re ready to sign up for surfing lessons, but you don’t know what you want to learn. Most beginners face the same question, longboard vs. shortboard, what’s the difference?

We are going to help you know the difference so you can decide which style of surfing is right for you.


These are the OG of surfboards. While the materials they are made out of has developed and changed over the years, the general design has stayed the same.

If you want to go retro, you can find a wood board. If you want more modern materials, then look for a polyurethane or EPS-built board.

As the name should imply to you, these boards are long. Typically they are at least 9 feet in length. This huge size will make them tough and awkward to carry to and from the water.

When your board gets longer and wider, you have more stability. You’ll have plenty of space to plant your feet on the board. There is also a larger surface area on the underside of the board to sit on the water.

If you are new to surfing this stability makes learning easier during your surf lesson. You will also find it easier to lay down on the board and paddle out. Just hope that a big wave doesn’t break on top of you.


Shorter surfboards are relatively new compared to the long storied longboards. You’ll recognize a shortboard by them being under 7 feet in length.

Their shorter length makes them faster and perfect for tackling more powerful waves. You’ll want to have some experience under your belt before you tackle bigger and stronger waves.

These boards are typically made out of fiberglass and other modern materials with a three fin thruster design. But they have a ton of options to make them perfectly suited for the wave conditions.

Because they have less foam, you will find shortboards harder to paddle. But their smaller size will make them easier to carry and transport.


When it comes to longboard vs. shortboard, it’s all about ride style and what you want to get out of your surfing experience. Longboards are less maneuverable but offer great stability. Shortboards are going to be fast and agile.

If you are new to surfing the best thing you can do is try each style. Then you can know from experience which one you prefer.

Look for these 5 things when you go to buy a surfboard, no matter if it is long or short.