The ancient Egyptians are said to have used planks of wood to slide down sand dunes.
It was a fun way to travel and transport goods, but it wasn’t a sport or even a hobby.
A few thousand years later, surfers and snowboards saw those sandy hills as an opportunity—they could surf without water, snowboard without snow.
Sandboarding (also known as sand sledding and sand surfing) was born.
Table of Contents
What is Sandboarding?
Sandboarding is basically a cross between surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding, and it surfaced sometime during the 1940s before experiencing its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.
Jack Smith is one of the people credited with popularizing sandboarding.
During a period of flat surf, the surfer created a specialized board that he could use to slide down sand dunes.
Along with his friend, Gary Fluitt, Jack worked on a variety of different board types, eventually creating something that closely resembled a snowboard.
The exploits of these early sandboarders were recorded in the 1983 film, Captain Surf, which you can still watch on YouTube.
Is Riding Sand Dunes Fun?
Sandboarding is often pitched as a great way to get some snowboard or surf practice out of season.
But while there are some similarities, it’s not quite the same and there is no guarantee that a surfer/snowboarder will enjoy sandboarding.
Some people love it and describe it as a refreshing change and a unique experience.
Others complain that it’s too slow, dull, and difficult.
The general consensus is that you should try it at least once if you’re into board sports, but that you probably won’t want to do it again.
It’s a harsh conclusion, and while it’s true for many riders, there are those who will absolutely love it and may even prefer it to snowboarding/surfing.
Can I Use a Snowboard for Sandboarding?
You can use a snowboard to ride a sand dune, but it’s not the best way and you won’t get the same speed or responsiveness.
If you want the best experience, buy a sandboard or rent one from a local surf/skate shop.
For more information, see the below section on the “best sandboards to buy”.
Is Sandboarding Difficult?
If you’re used to high-speed mountain slopes, you may find sand dunes to be sluggish and frustratingly slow.
They are also less responsive and you will need to regularly wax your board.
The sand dunes aren’t as fast as snow and it’s much harder than it looks.
You also have to contend with the heat, and while it’s enjoyable at first, the intensity will eventually wear you down.
That’s not to say that sandboarding is harder than snowboarding or that it’s “difficult” as such, but it’s definitely harder than it looks.
Best Sandboards and Sand Sleds to Buy
If you’re sandboarding for the first time and you’re not sure whether you’ll like it, look for a rental shop.
You can rent boards from sandboarding locations (see below) and even from surf/snowboarding/skate shops.
If it’s something that you’ve already experienced and enjoy, it’s worth investing in your own sandboard.
In the recent past, there were sandboards listed for sale on Amazon, but that’s no longer the case.
However, you can still buy some directly from manufacturers in North America, as well as major retailers.
Slip Face Surfboards has a good selection of sand sleds and sandboards and arguably produces the best boards in the industry, including the Side Winder and Sand Storm.
Its website also lists popular and surfing destinations across the United States, including desert areas in California and sand dunes in Michigan.
Venomous Boards also sells sandboards out of the United States, although it’s not as well known.
The same applies to Above Sandboards, but these guys have a much cleaner website and some beautifully designed boards.
Where Can I Sandboard?
You can search for beach dunes and sand dunes that are popular within the sandboarding community.
You may find more information on the Dune Riders International Facebook page.
Dune Riders International positions itself as the sport’s official body.
It was founded in the mid-90s and continues to update its social media profiles on a fairly regular basis.
Alternatively, pay a visit to Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon, where you can rent boards, take lessons, and ride carefully maintained dunes.
Described as the “world’s first sandboard park”, Sand Master Park spans several acres of sand dunes and there are slopes tailored to beginner and advanced boarders.
There is plenty of parking nearby and the park hosts lots of events throughout the year.
Whether you’re into sand sledding or sandboarding, and whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced rider, be sure to drop by Sand Master Park.
Is Sandboarding Dangerous?
It’s not dangerous as such, but there are certainly some risks that you need to be aware of.
Make sure you’re covered and use adequate amounts of sunscreen.
Stay hydrated, control your speed, and watch out for obstacles and other riders.
Take a friend with you just in case you encounter problems on the dunes.
What Do You Wear for Sandboarding?
Sandboarders typically wear elbow pads, knee pads, goggles, gloves, and a helmet.
You will also need a lot of sandboard wax, as it plays a big role in maximizing your speed and control.