Electric surfboards, also known as jet boards, are battery-powered boards that can glide through even the stillest and most stagnant waters.
They come in several shapes and sizes and typically carry a much higher price tag than a run-of-the-mill surfboard.
We’ve all seen the YouTube videos, we’ve all heard the anecdotes, and unless you’re a staunch traditionalist, there’s a good chance you have entertained the idea of purchasing one of these boards.
But should you make that leap, do electric surfboards offer any benefits for beginner surfers, and are they worth the cost?
What Does a Jet Board Feel Like?
Electric surfboards don’t feel the same as traditional surfboards.
They’re more like watercraft or jet skis, as you’re not propelled by the energy of the wave and you’re entirely reliant on a power source.
They’re fun, but if you’re expecting something that offers the same experience as surfing with the bonus of maintaining full-speed in any conditions, you may be a little disappointed.
On the plus side, they are relatively easy to ride.
A beginner surfer can stay upright without issue and experience what it’s like to be a pro surfer riding at speed.
There may even be some very minor skill transference, which is to say that you could improve your natural surfing skills by using electric surfboards, but not really.
The best way to learn how to surf, however, is just to hop on a board, surf, fall over, climb back on, and keep trying.
Suggesting that electric boards are somehow the perfect way to practice is akin to suggesting that a motorbike will help you with your cycling.
How Much Do Electric Surfboards Cost?
You can buy a decent fiberglass or epoxy surfboard for $500 to $700.
If you have $1,500 to spend, you can take your pick of longboards, shortboards, funboards, and everything else.
You can even afford a hefty stand up paddleboard for that price.
An electric surfboard, however, will set you back a bare minimum of $3,000, and many of the better models (including hydrofoil electric boards) cost upwards of $12,000.
That’s a lot of money to spend on something that could just be an occasional hobby.
Electric Surfboards or Traditional Surfboards?
If you’re a keen surfer and you’re not sure whether to buy a new surfboard or an electric surfboard, you should probably opt for the former.
Electric surfboards just won’t be suitable for the vast majority of users.
If you already have a packed quiver and plenty of money to spare, you should look into buying an electric surfboard.
They’re fun, and they’ll give you an experience that you won’t get with traditional boards.
But they’re not a replacement for those traditional boards. In many ways, they’re more of an alternative for jet skis, as that’s essentially what they are.
In the future, we might see the cost come down, opening up the experience to a wider range of people.
But until then, the majority of surfers will be better off limiting their electric surfboard experiences to watching YouTube videos.