How to Choose Your First Surfboard

San Diego, with its sunny beaches and consistent waves, is the perfect place to start your surfing journey. Whether you’re signing up for surf lessons or just eager to hit the waves on your own, choosing the right surfboard is crucial. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you select the best board for your first surf session, focusing on key factors like material, shape, and price.

1. Enroll in Surf Lessons

Before diving into the specifics of surfboard selection, it’s highly recommended to take a few surf lessons. San Diego Surf School offers lessons with experienced instructors who can provide hands-on guidance. These lessons will help you understand the basics of surfing, ocean safety, and wave dynamics, which are essential for making an informed decision about your first board.

2. Understand Surfboard Materials

Surfboards come in various materials, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. As a beginner, you’ll want a board that offers stability, buoyancy, and durability.

Foam Boards (Soft Tops)

Foam boards are an excellent choice for beginners. They are made of soft foam material, which makes them incredibly buoyant and stable. The soft top reduces the risk of injury, making them perfect for learning. Most surf schools in San Diego use foam boards for lessons due to their safety features.

Epoxy Boards

Epoxy boards are another good option for beginners. These boards are made with an EPS foam core and an epoxy resin, making them lighter and more durable than traditional fiberglass boards. They offer a good balance of performance and stability, ideal for progressing surfers.

Fiberglass Boards

While not typically recommended for absolute beginners due to their fragility and higher performance characteristics, fiberglass boards can be considered once you’ve gained some experience. They offer better maneuverability but require more skill to handle.

3. Choose the Right Shape

The shape of your surfboard significantly impacts your surfing experience. Here are the primary shapes to consider:


Longboards are great for beginners because of their size, which ranges from 8 to 12 feet. They provide excellent stability and make it easier to catch waves. If you’re starting your surf lessons in San Diego, a longboard is likely what you’ll be using.


Funboards, also known as mini-mals, are a versatile choice for beginners and intermediates. They range from 6 to 8 feet and offer a balance between the stability of a longboard and the maneuverability of a shortboard.


Shortboards are generally not recommended for beginners due to their smaller size and lower stability. They are more suited for advanced surfers looking to perform sharp turns and tricks.

4. Consider the Price

Surfboard prices can vary widely based on the material, brand, and size. Here’s a general idea of what to expect:

Budget-Friendly Options

Foam boards are typically the most affordable, with prices ranging from $100 to $300. They are a cost-effective choice for beginners who want a safe and sturdy board to start with.

Mid-Range Boards

Epoxy boards fall into the mid-range category, costing between $300 and $600. They offer better performance and durability, making them a good investment as you progress in your surfing skills.

High-End Boards

Fiberglass boards and custom-made options can cost upwards of $600. While they offer superior performance, they are better suited for surfers with more experience.

Final Tips

  1. Demo Days: Take advantage of demo days offered by local surf shops in San Diego. These events allow you to try different boards before making a purchase.
  2. Ask for Advice: Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from instructors during your surf lessons or from experienced surfers in the community.
  3. Buy Used: Consider buying a used surfboard. Many surf shops in San Diego sell high-quality used boards at a fraction of the price of new ones.

Choosing your first surfboard is an exciting step in your surfing journey. By considering factors like material, shape, and price, and starting with a few surf lessons, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the waves in beautiful San Diego. Happy surfing!