You can’t beat the joy of browsing for a new surfboard. Whatever excuse you tell yourself or your partner—it’s damaged, it’s old, I always wanted a red one—the thrill of buying a new board and riding that first wave is one of the best things about this sport.
It’s like a guitarist who insists on a new instrument every year just because the other one got a little dusty or there was a sale.
When it’s time to listen to your inner consumerist and buy a new board, there are a few different places you can shop.
Where to Buy Surfboards
When it comes to buying a surfboard, you have three main options. You can buy off-the-rack, which means the board is ready and can be picked up and taken home; custom, which means it’s made to your specific requirements, and used, which means you’re buying someone’s unwanted board.
They all have their pros and cons.
Buying an Off-the-Rack Surfboard
You can buy pre-made surfboards online from a host of retailers, even Amazon sells them (although the range is pretty limited, to say the least). The problem with buying online is that you’re going to be stung with high shipping charges and the board will be a nightmare to return if you decide that it’s not for you.
It’s better to visit your nearest surf shop, even if it means travelling a little out of the way. You can see the boards up close and get more of a feel for them. You’ll also avoid any hefty shipping charges and if you have an issue, you’re just a quick journey away from returning it.
A beginner’s off-the-rack surfboard should cost around $400 to $700, although the price will vary depending on quality and features.
Buying a Custom Surfboard
The custom option is usually more expensive, but that’s not necessarily true for surfboards. In fact, if you know a good local shaper and opt for a basic model, you may find that you pay the same for a custom board.
It’s a little more time consuming and you can’t hand over the cash and collect the board straightaway, but it’s worth the additional time. You’ll get a board that is built for you and you’ll also support an industry that has been hit pretty hard by the pandemic.
Buying a Used Surfboard
A used board is the cheapest option but you’re also getting something that has potentially been ridden many times and could be damaged.
You will need to check the board for cracks, dings, and other damage. If you’re a complete beginner, you likely won’t know what to look for, so it might be better to invest the extra cash in a custom or off-the-rack board.
The Best Places to Buy Surfboards in the US
All of the following online retailers sell off-the-rack boards, and some also sell used and custom boards:
Tips on Buying a Board for Beginners
If you’re buying your very first surfboard, there are a few tips you should follow to ensure you get the right board for you.
Get Your Priorities Straight
Everyone wants an attractive board, but it should not take priority over practicality. By focusing purely on the aesthetic qualities of the surfboard you could be overlooking essential aspects such as whether it’s even right for someone of your size and experience level.
Stick to a Budget
We’ve all had those fads that we got really into for a few weeks, spent a fortune on expensive equipment, and then gave up. If you’re over the age of thirty, there’s a good chance you have unused exercise/weightlifting equipment gathering dust in your house, and you may have also turned your hand to countless other short-lived hobbies.
If you rush in and spend big, not only do you stand to lose more if you eventually decide that it’s not right for you, but you could also be asking too much of yourself. Stick to a sensible budget, buy something basic, and if you improve, you can upgrade in the future.
Set targets, treat yourself; buy a more expensive board if you attain a certain skill level. Don’t just toss all your cards on the table with your very first-hand!
We hate to break it to you, but size really does matter.
Short boards might be easier to store and transport, but they might also be too much of a challenge for a new surfer. Choose a long board, as it provides more stability and allows for easy paddling.
Don’t Get Lost in the Details
A surfboard is much more than a chunk of plastic that you use to ride a few waves. It can be made from a number of materials and varies with regard to its nose, tail, rocker, and rails. The more you surf, the more you’ll understand the difference that these features make.
To begin with, however, none of that really matters. Just choose an affordable beginner’s board that is a decent size and start riding those waves.