In a theoretical contest of bodyboarding vs surfing, which one comes out on top? Which one of these is easier, safer, and more enjoyable? If you're completely new to both bodyboarding and surfing and you're looking for a way to get out on the waves, which option should you choose?
There's a lot to cover, so let's get right to it as we look at the many pros and cons of bodyboarding vs surfing.
Bodyboarding, also known as "boogie boarding", involves lying down on a bodyboard and riding the waves in a prone position.
Bodyboarding is said to have been invented by Tom Morey back in the early 1970s, but the practice of lying down on a board and "surfing" the waves likely goes back thousands of years. In fact, it's fair to assume that early Pacific Islanders were prone on their boards long before they were upright, which technically makes bodyboarding older than surfing.
Is Bodyboarding Easy?
Bodyboarding is easier than surfing as you don't need to stand up. However, if you want to surf the big waves and pull off YouTube and Instagram-worthy stunts, you're going to need a pretty high skill level.
In that sense, bodyboarding is like many sports in that it's easy to learn the basics but difficult to master.
Is Bodyboarding Dangerous?
Bodyboarding can be very dangerous. You can get pulled into rip currents, you can fall from your board, and you can collide with other surfers and bodyboarders. You need to understand the risks, be prepared, and remain vigilant. Don't assume that you'll be safe just because you're lying down as you're still exposed to the same risks as surfers.
What is the Difference Between Bodyboarding and Boogie Boarding?
A boogie board is a bodyboard with a trademark. The name was first used by its creator, Tom Morey, who called it the "Morey Boogie Board" after his love of "boogie woogie" jazz music. It was later sold to a toy company and the name was trademarked.
The "bodyboard", is built on the same ideas, to the same standard, and for the same purpose, but it isn't able to use the trademarked name.
So, all boogie boards are bodyboards but not all bodyboards are boogie boards, at least not by name.
Surfing should need no introduction. It is one of the most popular water sports in the world and there are dozens of big money competitions and events staged every year.
Surfing has a long history and has featured prominently in pop culture, with the likes of Kelly Slater—one of the greatest ever surfers—becoming household names.
Surfing is like bodyboarding, only you stand up and try to keep your balance as you ride the waves.
Is Surfing Easy?
Riding waves while trying to remain on your feet is far from easy and the learning curve is pretty steep, but the great thing about surfing is that there are beginner boards and even beginner waves to help you out.
If you begin with a longboard or an egg board and stick with knee-high waves, you'll steadily hone your skills and eventually progress to shorter boards and bigger waves. In a few months, you can catch waves like a pro, and if you have a few years and a lot of dedication, you could even become a pro!
Is Surfing Dangerous?
If you're a strong swimmer, own a good wetsuit, and take care when surfing, you can reduce your risks and stay relatively safe. However, there are more inherent risks associated with surfing than there are with bodyboarding.
For instance, not only are you still exposed to rip currents and sharks, as well as other surfers, bodyboarders, jet skis, and paddle boarders, but you can also injure yourself falling off your board or colliding with reefs and rocks.
Several professional surfers have died over the years and many others have been seriously injured. Most of these incidents occurred at big wave spots all over the world, but every year hundreds of surfers injure themselves in much calmer surf spots.
Whether you're riding waves at Nazare or catching some surf at your local beach, there is always a risk.
Bodyboarding vs Surfing: Which is Best?
Bodyboarding is easier than surfing. Even the most hardened bodyboarding advocates won't dispute that. That's not to say that bodyboarding is easy, and it's definitely not easy once you get to the higher levels, but if you're looking for a simple way to ride waves without constant wipeouts, you'll be better off with bodyboarding.
If you're looking for something that gives you more control, allows you to pull off more impressive stunts, and has a much steeper learning curve, you'll be better off with surfing.
Of course, you don't need to pick one and then stick with it. Surfboards and bodyboards can be expensive, but if you have the budget for it, why not buy a surfboard and a bodyboard and give them both a go?