Surfing vs. Snowboarding

Children of the 90’s might remember a particular Disney Channel movie called “Johnny Tsunami.” In this campy, but good-natured film, a teenage surfer from Hawaii, has to leave his passion behind when his family moves to Vermont. In the classic “fish out of water” scenario, Johnny tries to fit in with the locals and take up snowboarding. Long story short, the transition isn’t easy for young Johnny, but in classic Disney fashion, he ends up saving the day. It’s an inspiring tale, but it doesn’t accurately explain the practical differences of surfing vs. snowboarding. So before you go making the switch with ease, here are some things to know.


Both surfing and snowboarding require a great amount of skill, balance, and control to produce the desired movements. When on a snowboard, one always has one foot forward stance just like with surfing. Those who put their left foot forward are “regular footers” while the opposite is a “goofy footer.”

While snowboarders have a smaller board to deal with than surfers, it’s still a board. Both need to use the rails/edges of the board to properly execute turns. Both riders also need to wax their boards. However, surfers do so on the top for traction while snowboards wax the bottom to improve glide.


When surfing, you start facing down and eventually need to get up to put yourself in a standing position. With snowboarding, you’re already standing up. Also, you’ll notice how snowboarders need to strap in their feet. The last thing a surfer wants is to have their feet strapped on the board. Moving the feet is crucial to leaving the prone position and adapting to the wave.

Probably the most noticeable difference is that snowboarders rely entirely on land and snow while surfers need water and waves. Of course, this area needs to be some snowy decline while a surfer just needs swells and tides.



At the end of the day, choosing to surf or snowboard comes down to personal preference. There are some overlapping qualities to both sports, but not everyone can make the change like Johnny Tsunami. Both activities require intense dedication and practice but will reward you with a one of a kind experience. You’ll never know until you get out on the waves and mountains. Give it a shot!