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Guide: The Best Beginner Surfboard, Brands + Size Chart

Looking to buy a surfboard but you’re confused? Check out our size guide, and my personal recommendation for the best beginner surfboard.

You’re pumped to start your new hobby, and you’ve read our guide on how to surf. Now you need a board.

So, which is the best surfboard for beginners? And, what size surfboard do you need?

Well, in the next 5-minutes, I’ll offer a personal recommendation; the surfboard I bought as a beginner.

And, we’ll also cover the best surfboard brands, surfboard sizes and types. Because buying the wrong type, or the wrong size board is going to make learning to surf incredibly difficult.

You can find all the surfboards on this list here.

The Best Surfboard For Beginners

There’s a tonne of brands to choose from. But, when I bought my first surfboard, I was advised to buy a BIC.

I did, and I didn’t regret it.

I’d never surfed before, so I chose to go for a bigger board than I should.

I weigh around 185lbs, so that would put me in the prime category for the 7ft 10″+ surfboard size.

I chose to go above and for a 8ft 4”. And as a recreational surfer, that’s seen me good for a couple of years now.


bic surfboard

So, all I can recommend from a personal perspective is the BIC Sport DURA-TEC. Unfortunately, it seems like you might have to compromise on colour.

They tend to focus on specific colours, for different sized boards, which wasn’t the case when I bought my board.

As an example, I bought a 8ft 4” orange and white board.

But, it seems most the boards in the bigger range are blue, and the smaller ones are orange; not that it matters.

How Hard Is It To Paddle?

Paddling out is super easy on my BIC.

I suppose my surfer buddies were jealous on the way out, as a longer Mini Mal like this, is a lot easier to paddle than a shortboard.

On the flipside, as they actually have the ability to carve pretty hard, I’m sure they’re willing to make that sacrifice.

How Hard Is It To Pop-Up?

My first day surfing was quite calm and the waves were around 3ft-4ft.

They were clean, so it was easy to paddle out. And, as the waves were fairly weak, they were easy to catch too.

I was popping up on my BIC within an hour or two.

Maybe the technique wasn’t perfect, but who cares. I’m not Kelly Slater.

How Hard Is It To Turn?

After my first session, I’d say I could angle the rail of the board a little, but it wasn’t exactly a turn.

After 2-3 sessions I started turning for more fun, and to keep on the surf longer.

So, turning wasn’t very difficult, thanks to the extra stability I got by buying a bigger board. But as I said, they definitely weren’t carves.

How Hard Is It To Carve?

This board isn’t really designed for carving. I guess you could do some sharp turns, and the experts could easily carve on it; but I can’t.

I’m at a stage now where I could jump to a Fish, and the BIC has given me a good grounding so that I can carve when I buy one.

Would I Buy It Again?

100%. The only thing I’d say is this.

If you plan to be a recreational surfer and never want to upgrade your board, I’d go for the board size that’s exactly right for you, rather than one-up like I did.

It might take a little longer to learn the basics (by a little, I mean the odd hour here and there), but you’ll have fun on it for longer. The smaller board will feel a bit more technical than if you went one size up.

It’s seen me well for a year or so, but it’s now coming to a point where I need to upgrade.

If you plan to upgrade and learn as fast as possible, buying one-up in size isn’t a bad idea. The extra stability from the additional volume will help you learn quicker, and then you can upgrade to a Fish.

What Does It Include?

leash for surfing

Most surfboard deals will include a leash, but not always. I was lucky when I bought my BIC, as I got a board bag, leash and wax included as part of the deal.

I’d definitely recommend getting all of those things.

The board bag protects your board, a leash is an absolute must, and without wax, you’ll struggle to stay on the board.

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Beginner Surfboard Brands

All the top surfboard companies will consistently bring out new boards, which means a top pick today, might not be available tomorrow. What we really want to focus on here, is ensuring you pick a board from a reputable manufacturer.

As I’ve mentioned in many of my gear guides, it’s unlikely you’re going to find the perfect board for you by simply buying the cheapest. You get what you pay for and quality boards from top manufacturers aren’t exactly cheap.

Pick a board from the list of best beginner surfboard brands below, and you won’t go far wrong.

When I test and research products I tend to go into detail, which means this article, like my others, isn’t a 10-second read. I would suggest reading the whole thing before making a purchase decision (takes around 4 minutes), but here’s the short version if you’re strapped for time…

BIC Sport, with their Dura Tech board, is one of the best surfboard brands currently available. I personally loved my Dura Tech surfboard as a beginner, and it served me well until I got towards needing a shortboard at intermediate level.

Essentially, this board is going to see you good for the first year (and beyond if you’re just a casual and recreational surfer, carving for a couple of days per year).

Better still? You’ll be saving $300+ in comparison to some of the more expensive brands on this list such as Lib Tech and Solid Surf Co.

The Best Beginner Surfboard Brands

Below are what I consider to be the best surfboard brands. They’re brands well known in the industry, top surfboard companies me or my surf buddies have used, or those with excellent reviews that offer great value for money.

BIC Sport

bic dura tech surfboard brandsBIC Sport is a brand that’s close to my heart, the beginner surfboard I ever purchased, was a BIC.

Like many of the top companies on this list, BIC Surfboards has been going for years. The company formed back in 1979 manufacturing windsurfing kit. It wasn’t until 1994 that they released their first board.

Since releasing that first board, they’ve grown quickly to become an established player in the surfboard industry. And I can personally recommend the Bic Dura-Tech, which you can see in my guide here that I put it forward it as one of the best beginner surfboards. It offers excellent value for money, and a cheap way to get into surfing.

What I found with my BIC Dura-Tech board in comparison to smaller more technical boards, was I was able to pick up the basics quicker than I would with my mate’s boards, as they all ride shortboards which are much more suitable to an experienced surfer.

Once you get to a reasonable level in terms of carving, or hitting bigger swells, you’ll feel the board holding you back. But for the first 6-12 months, this board helped me to grab hold of the basics, and I’d certainly recommend it.

I’m fairly sure when I sold it, after a year or so of fun, I only lost around $90 on the purchase price by selling it second hand. And that’s because Bic surfboards are so popular with beginner to intermediate surfers.

Lib Tech

lib tech pickup surfboard reviewIf you’re into board sports, especially snowboarding, Lib Tech is a brand that’s going to be familiar. Lib Tech is a company created by Mike Olson, who crafted his first snowboard in 1979, and eventually ventured out into creating beginner surfboards too. Today, they’re known as one of the best surfboard brands in the world.

And they’ve got themselves noticed over the years. At one point, Lib Tech was owned by extreme sports giant, Quiksilver.

Before we recommend our top pick, we will give you a warning; Lib Tech isn’t known for being a cheap surfboard brand. In fact, it’s rare you’ll find ANYTHING in the Lib Tech range that is cheap. But the R&D they invest into their products means that the products rolling out of their factory are some of the best in the world; they’re well worth the cash.

So, what would I pick if I were buying a Lib Tech surfboard today? I’d be heading straight for the Lib Tech Pickup Stick surfboard.

Why? It’s the perfect all-rounder for anyone sitting in the beginner-intermediate range. It’s not a shortboard, and it’s not a longboard; it’s the perfect contrast of the two.

Whilst you won’t get extreme carving ability you would from a shortboard, you’ll get a lot more control and ability to carve than you would from a longboard. And, if you’re feeling like a lazy surf, it’s going to be a heck’ of a lot easier to catch waves on the Lib Tech Pickup, than it would be on a short board; it’s got excellent buoyancy, even compared to other boards of a similar size.

Better still, you won’t need to be too prissy about looking after it, given it’s basically indestructible, as you’ll see if you read a few online reviews.

Essentially, the Lib Tech Pickup surfboard is an all round workhorse, from one of the best surfboard brands in the world.

As I’ve already said, the downside? Price. Don’t expect a ton of change from $900.

Solid Surf Co

solid surf diamond jig surfboard blueYou may have noticed more and more of the top surf companies are becoming sustainable in their manufacturing process, or at least as sustainable as possible. Solid Surf Co is certainly one of those companies. They focus on producing not just the best surfboards in the world, but also ones that are made via a sustainable manufacturing process.

Being one of the best beginner surfboard brands in the world, don’t expect to be spending a few hundred dollars to get yourself setup with a board. Somewhere in the region $800 is going to get you a quality board from the Solid Surf Co.

So which board would I be heading for? 100%, I’d be going for the Solid Surf Co Diamond Jig. For a medium length board, it has great buoyancy, which means catching waves isn’t as much effort as it needs to be. And once on the wave, it cuts and carves just like a short board would thanks to the 2+1 profile of the fins, and an extremely narrow tail base.

If you’re looking for a mini shredder from one of the best surfboard brands in the world, the Diamond Jig is for you!

Types Of Surfboards

Foam Boards

Foam boards are designed for absolute beginners.

This is the type of board you’ll use if you have a taster lesson at your local surf spot.

You’ll likely outgrow this board (in terms of its technical ability) within a few surfs.

Is it ideal for kids? I’d say no.

Let’s face it. If you’re both beginners, after a few sessions they’re probably going to be better than you anyway. 🙂

Mini Mal Board

A Mini Mal board is by far the best surfboard for beginners.

It gives you the stability you need to learn, but will see you good right through until you reach the intermediate level.

Fish Boards

For intermediates, to experts. Fish boards help surfers transition to a shortboard, rather than jumping straight from a Mini Mal.


Shortboards are designed for experts only. As a beginner, you definitely don’t want to buy a shortboard.

What Type Of Surfboard Do You Need?

If you want to get into traditional surfing (rather than longboarding, or SUP), you’ll want a Mini Mal. bic blue beginner surfboard

They offer the stability you’ll need to learn, but they’re a big step up from foam boards.

It’s hard to learn anything besides standing up on 1-2ft waves on a foam board. You’ll get bored very quickly.

A Mini Mal is flexible enough that you’ll be able to learn to properly paddle, pop up, turn and do some small carves.

Depending on how quickly you learn, you’ll then jump to a fish or shortboard.

But, the Mini Mal will take you right through to the intermediate level, so you won’t have to ditch it any time soon.

Some beginners jump straight to a fish or shortboard.

The problem is, they are just too technical. You’ll find you learn much slower (or not at all), by jumping straight to such a technical board.

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Surfboard Sizes

Buying a surfboard for a child? A big guy worried that you’re going to buy one that’s too small?

No problem. Here’s our guide to what size surfboard you need.

Surfboard Size Chart

The size chart below gives an indication of what size surfboard you’ll need, depending on your weight.

If in doubt, always go for a bigger surfboard.

A longer and thicker surfboard offers more volume, and provides much more stability.

And, that’s why heavier surfers will need a longer board. Otherwise, you’ll sink as you paddle, and struggle to catch waves!

The key thing to remember here is you are a beginner. And, even as you progress to an intermediate you won’t be carving hard or duck diving.

So, having a board that offers a little more stability is only going to help with learning.

Surfboard Size Surfer Weight (LBS)
8ft 4”+ 200lbs+
7ft 10”+ 185-200lbs
7ft 6”+ 160-185lbs
7f 2”+ 140-160lbs
7ft+ 100lbs+

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our guide to the best surfboard for beginners.

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