Author: Bridget Thorpe
Reading Time: 4 minutes, 45 seconds
I pulled myself out of the whitewater. The look and vibe of the moment: cat in a bathtub. My hair was all over my face. My bikini top was halfway down my torso. And I could feel the leash tugging on my leg as the board bobbled around in the waves that passed me by.
I was using one of my dad’s old shortboards. It had been a good 5 or 6 years since I’d gone surfing. And yet this was the noble stallion I chose for my maiden voyage 😂
It may have been wise to tame my Blue Crush visions and choose the right equipment. Something that would give me confidence to progress faster and have more fun in the process.
That’s one of the toughest parts about learning to surf. Catching the wave in the first place. But we got this!
So let’s dig into beginner boards that will build confidence, get you up on waves faster, and help you avoid the cat in a bathtub look…
If you are getting started, a longboard is hands-down your best bet. A longboard will basically be anything over 8 or 9 feet. They’ll be wider, thicker, and likely have a rounded nose and tail. These features offer more flotation and stability. Therefore, they’re a lot easier to both catch waves and stand-up on.
You’ll also notice surfboards are made out of different materials. We'll dig into the details of this topic in our Anatomy of a Surfboard blog here.
If you're in your early months of surfing, a foam board (or “soft top”) is perfect. Our motto is foam equals fun. Foam boards are low stress, super floaty, and safer if you bump your head or accidentally run into a friend nearby. They’re great when you’re starting out, or if you’re more experienced and looking for a playful option in your quiver.
5 Trusted Starter Surfboards
There are a sea of foam board options out there. If you can’t find one to borrow at first, we recommend contacting a local surf shop or school to rent one. Then, if you’ve caught the bug and want one of your own, check out our top 5 starter brands below. You can expect to spend around $100-$500 for a beginner foamie. And as your skill level progresses, they're still always a fun option for a low-key day.
01 | Softech Handshaped Sally Fitzgibbons Thruster Surfboard
Cost: $400 - $500
Finally, a soft top designed for women and girls. I know I mentioned earlier that 8-9’ longboards are your best place to start. However, almost all foam longboards are designed by men with larger body types than your average female surfer. The Softech Thruster is endorsed by badass Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons. It glides beautifully and is great for surfers who are developing a style rooted in finesse over force. We also love the sleek built-in handle that makes it easier to carry. The Thruster is about $400, ranges from 6’-7’, and offers 54-66 liters of volume. So it has less length and flotation than your industry-standard soft top. However, if you have a smaller body type, it won’t feel like you’re trying to surf a bus.
Ah, the Wavestorm. So many wonderful memories! The Wavestorm is the iconic—and massively respected—beginner foam board. They’re durable, very floaty with about 86 liters of volume, and don’t break the bank at around $200. Although they’re no longer available at Costco, you can find them on Amazon or Craigslist. It’s a classic, go-to option.
Cost: $400 - $500
Catch Surf truly embraced the foam = fun motto. They worked with famous surfers to design their boards and develop a series of videos. These videos demonstrated how much performance you truly can get out of a foamie. And, that nobody is too cool for a soft top. Their LOG model is a popular starter. It has great maneuverability, and you can even swap in real fins down the road (as opposed to the rubber fins it comes with). The LOG model goes for around $400.
Cost: $200 - 300
We love the fun pinstripe print of this board. The Guppy is another great option that won’t break the bank. They typically run between $200-$300. What we love about this board is its closed cell foam core. Most beginner boards use open cell foam. The closed cell means the board will not absorb water like a sponge. It’s a fun option to stay light on your feet with.
Finally, we gotta go over the Costco option. Historically, Costco only sold Wavestorms. However, famous surfer Gerry Lopez recently secured that exclusive deal. Their soft top doesn’t look like a foam board at all. It features a wood print, a traction pad, and even wooden stringers. So it looks like you’re riding a fully equipped, classic surfboard. The reviews on Wavestorm vs. Gerry Lopez have been positive so far. For around $100 at your beachside Costco, it’s hard to go wrong with this model.
No matter which option you choose, the fact that you’re out there paddling is already a win 🏄♀️ Learning to surf is not for the faint of heart. So we’re cheering you on! And if you’re looking for a top that stays up or works as a solid wetsuit base-layer, check-out our hybrid sports bras here.