Different Types of Surfboards Explained

We are fortunate to live in an era where there’s a decent variety of different types of surfboards for the exact type of wave of out there. Although most of the boards can all look quite identical, there’s a difference to the whole feel and way the board will react in different conditions. Choosing the right type of surfboard can be a tricky task to even an experienced rider hence the reason we made this article.

Surfboard standing up
Quiver = Surfers collection of surfboards

Down here you’ll get a glimpse of the world of different types of surfboards


1. Longboard

longboard surfboard

  • Riding style – Groovy. Noseriding and performance longboarding
  • Types of Waves – Small to medium
  • Average Size – 9′ – 12′
  • Different Types of Longboards – Performance longboards, Nose-rider longboards
  • Weaknesses – Heavy and slow to maneuver, nose dive in hollow waves

Characterized by heavy and bulky build, the longboard is something every surfer and non-surfer is familiar with. Longboard surfboard is where the whole surfing history originates from. Back in the day, in the 50s and 60s, those boards were obviously made of hardwood, while fiberglass and epoxy dominate the industry today.

The original, classic, or traditional longboard, whatever you’d like to call it – comes with a single-fin set-up. Although, a thruster set-up can be seen more often these days with a large single, and two smaller side fins, the ‘side bites’. Longboards are super easy to paddle and hold the line rather well. Large = stable.

Best Longboard Surfboards Under $600 >


2. Shortboard

shortboard surfboards

  • Riding Style – Performance-orientated
  • Types of Waves – Fast & hollow
  • Average Board Size – About the same height as the surfer
  • Different Types of Shortboards – Pintail, round tail,
  • Weaknesses – Slow to paddle

This type of surfboard allows the surfer to maximize riding the breaking wave. As the size of this board is picked to be on the verge of floatation, they have the least amount of volume which allows for easy duck-diving, late take-offs, carves, jumps’ etc – that’s where the shortboard thrives!

Shortboard surfboards have generally either a 3- or 5 fin set-up, which makes the most controllable and can be adjusted to a fine degree.


3. Fish Surfboard

fish surfboard

  • Riding Style – Laid back
  • Types of Waves – From small and weak to 2′ overhead
  • Average Board Size – 2 to 3″ smaller than an ideal shortboard
  • Different Types of Fish Surfboards – Retro fish / Hybrid Fish /
  • Weaknesses – Unstable on powerful waves

Wide, short and thick – the fish surfboard is ideal for waves that are small or medium, slow or quick, someplace where you’d need something snappy and easy to maneuver with. The original fish comes with a twin-fin set-up, while you’ll see a bunch of boards with a quad fin set-up. Also, the fish surfboard is something many other types of boards are inspired by – whether it’s the fi set-up or the fishtail design.

Best Fish Surfboards Under $500 >


4. Hybrid Surfboard

hybrid surfboard

  • Riding Style – Mixed, from laid back to performance
  • Types of Waves – The widest of spectrum
  • Average Board Size – From 5’6 to 8′
  • Different Types of Hybrids – Shortboard inspired, longboard inspired, fish surfboard-inspired, mid-lengths
  • Weaknesses – Generally oversized volume for ideal performance conditions

The most versatile – one-for-all type of surfboard

Most likely the widest spectrum of different surfboard designs combined into one – the hybrid. Another must-have item in every surfer’s quiver, the hybrid surfboard is an ideal tool for various conditions. A surfboard for a traveler who wants to ride as many waves as possible with the least amount of board to carry along.

Although there are countless different types and models out there, hybrids are known to be the transition boards.

Best Hybrid Surfboards >


5. Funboard / Malibu / Mini-mal

solid surf co malibu surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed
  • Types of Waves – Knee, ankle-high
  • Average Board Size – 6′ to 8′
  • Different Types of Funboards – Mainly the one, malibu type
  • Weaknesses – Slow to maneuver, impossible to duck dive

Closely related to being a hybrid surfboard, the Malibu is essentially a mixture between a longboard and a shortboard. Great for both beginners and heavier riders, the Malibu is a choice for Sunday surfers. It is not as long as the longboard while still having the round contours, the Malibu is a forgiving surfboard for all skills levels. It can handle larger waves that don’t break and can’t be ridden with a typical hybrid.


6. Foamboard/Soft-top Surfboard

funboard surfboard made of foam

  • Riding Style – Relaxed
  • Types of Waves – Small, slow, poor quality
  • Average Board Size – From 48″ to 9′
  • Different Types of Foamboards – Long, beginner’s to fun hybrid and beater boards
  • Weaknesses – Not great for powerful waves, not as durable

Foamie. Those are the boards that are mainly ridden by beginner surfers who are not as acquainted with the size and handling of those large boards in the waves. Foam boards have a forgiving nature in terms of catching and getting wiped out by the wave. Foam boards are lightweight and lively. All surf schools use foam boards that are 8′ + tall, while many retailers sell surfboards that are the size and shape of a standard hybrid surfboard

Best Beginner Softboards >


7. Beater Board Surfboard

beater board surfboard made of foam

  • Riding Style – Fun
  • Types of Waves – Shorebreaks, sketchy waves
  • Average Board Size – 48″ / 54″
  • Different Types of Beater Boards – Twin Fin / Finless
  • Weaknesses

One of the latest and hottest trends – the Beater board. Originates from the No-Surf-Rule on beaches that have pulled up the yellow flag with a black dot in it. This rule means that there is no watercraft allowed, but the beater board that’s made out of foam doesn’t categorize under those terms. It is also an awesome surfboard for those sketchy and gnarly shore break waves where you wouldn’t want to go in with your expensive solid surfboard! This type of surfboard is suitable for all skill levels and types of waves.

Best Beater Boards of 2020 >


8. Egg Surfboard

egg surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed
  • Skill Level – Intermediate to Advanced
  • Types of Waves – Fat and slow
  • Average Board Size – Anything above 6′
  • Different Types of Egg Surfboards – Mainly the same type
  • Weaknesses – Not as stable on faster and hollow surf conditions.

Egg surfboards are named by the egg shape – that’s it. Those boards are categorized as funboards, generally short and thick in design to ride mellow waves in a laid-back manner. Somewhat similar to the fish and the beater board, those boards offer loads of fun on conditions where you can’t paddle in with a shortboard, and a long hybrid/longboard would be too much to carry around and maneuver.


9. Midlengths

midlength surfboard

  • Riding Style – Performance, nose-ride, all-round.
  • Types of Waves – Small to large.
  • Average Board Size – 7′ to 9′.
  • Different Types of Midlenghts – Funboard, malibu, A performance longboard.
  • Weaknesses – Hard to duck dive, not as great on hollow waves.

Closely related to hybrids and funboards, mini-mal’s and malibus – the midlength surfboard is a general term referring to performance type longboard with a slightly smaller height. Equipped with a thruster set-up, sometimes a single fin set-up occurs as well.


10. Gun Surfboard

  • Riding Style – Unhuman
  • Types of Waves – XXXL waves
  • Average Board Size – 7′ – 12′
  • Different Types of Guns – Standard, mini-gun
  • Weaknesses – Hard to turn

The big wave gun surfboard is basically a stretched shortboard, built to ride the biggest waves in the world. Due to a large amount of volume and narrow design, the gun surfboards allow the surfer to paddle in quickly and ride down the wave as fast as possible. The fin set-up on the gun is generally a large single fin or a thruster set-up.


11. Tow-In Surfboard

  • Riding Style – Waves you can see on the TV
  • Skill level: Advanced-Professional
  • Types of Waves – XXXL waves, 10′ +
  • Average Board Size – 6′ – 6’6
  • Different Types of Guns – Mainly one type
  • Weaknesses – Hard to turn

This is a surfboard that’s designed to ride the fastest, largest, and most hollow waves you can think of. The tow-in and the gun surfboards are both for the extremely large waves, but the tow-in surfboard is generally equipped with foot straps for stability. The fin set-up is generally a thruster, a moon shape tail, deep straight single concave are the essentials to a gun surfboard.


12. Groveller Surfboard

  • Riding Style – Fun, laid back
  • Skill Level: Intermediate-Advanced
  • Types of Waves – Small to medium, slow and fat, mushy
  • Average Board Size – 5’2″ – 6’2″
  • Different Types of Grovellers – Anywhere near a fish, egg, and shortboard.
  • Weaknesses – Not as stable on fast waves

Groveler surfboard, a mixture between a fish and a shortboard. Characterized similarly to fish surfboards as the idea of a Groveller surfboard is to pack as much volume into the smallest surfboard size as possible. Grovelers make perfect all-rounder boards for travelers.


13. Grom / Youth Surfboard

kona all-round allrounder surfboard

  • Riding Style – Intermediate-Advanced
  • Skill LevelIntermediate – Advanced
  • Types of Waves – Mid-high quality, fa
  • Average Board Size – Generally up to 6ft
  • Different Types of Grom surfboards
  • Weaknesses – The young grow out of their boards rather fast

Grom surfboards are generally performance-shortboards shaped for young surfers.


14. All-Rounder Surfboard

kona all-round allrounder surfboard

Also known as the everyday board, the all-rounder surfboard is referred to as a hybrid surfboard that’s used for the widest variety of conditions the surfer is capable of riding.

  • Riding Style – Relaxed to carves
  • Skill LevelIntermediate – Advanced
  • Types of Waves – From knee-high to fat overhead
  • Average Board Size – 5’8 – 7′
  • Different Types of Allrounders – Hybrids of most types, generally between a funboard/shortboard, or a fish.
  • Weaknesses – Not as good for fast waves


15. Step-Up Surfboard

  • Riding Style – Performance
  • Types of Waves – Large, fast
  • Average Board Size
  • Different Types of Step-Up Surfboards – Gun, Mini Gun, Performance Shortboard, Tow-in Surfboard
  • Weaknesses – Not as good for

This type of surfboard is used for conditions where the typical board choice would need a next-level board to ride in above-average conditions. Whether it’ll be due to larger or faster waves, or simply windier conditions where are larger/bulkier board would hold a better line.

Step-up boards offer an early paddle in large conditions where a typical shortboard would struggle to start to ride the wave at a prefect spot.


16. Step-down Surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed
  • Types of Waves – Below average
  • Average Board Size – Thicker and more volume than average
  • Different Types of Step-Down Surfboards – Hybrid, Groveler, Egg
  • Weaknesses –

In oppose to Step-Up boards, Step-down surfboards are used in weaker or smaller conditions. Usually a transition from a shortboard to a hybrid or a groveler surfboard in poor surf conditions.




What are surfboards made of?

  • Foam – Beginner-friendly
  • Epoxy – Light and durable, fast, and snappy.
  • Fiberglass – A traditional material, characterized by a distinctive ‘feel’. Fiberglass surfboards hold a better line on windy conditions.

Types of surfboard noses

Round – Relaxed riding style, generally longboards have a full round nose
An in-between mixture of round & narrow – A design that’s popular among hybrid surfboards
A narrow surfboard nose is characterized by easy maneuverability and difficult paddle-in qualities

Types of surfboard tails

different types of surfboard tails
The shape of the board determines how the board turns down the wave
  • Squash Tail
  • Round Tail
  • Pin Tail
  • Fish Tail




What Are The Main Types of Surfboards Out There?

The three main types of surfboards are the shortboard, fish, and longboard, while there are over 10 different mixtures of those three boards known as the: Hybrid, Beater board, Egg, Malibu, Funboard, Foamboard, Gun, Tow-in surfboard, Grom, Groveller, etc.

What Type of Surfboard is Best For Beginner Surfers?

What type of surfboard should a beginner get depends on whether the beginner would like to progress or surf just for fun? The two main types of beginner surfboards are the hybrid for a beginner who’d like to progress or the foam funboard.

If you consider yourself a total beginner who likes to go out occasionally on vacations or on the weekends
– Beater board. There are only two sizes to choose from and you can surf it as a bodyboard or a regular surfboard. Great thing is that it doesn’t take any room and you won’t be needing the roof racks.
Foamboard. Another alternative

A Progressing Beginner is better off getting either a large mal when interested in progressing to a longboard, or a fish-tail hybrid surfboard if they’d like to ride the shortboard as soon as possible.

How Many Types of Surfboards Are Out There?

Although there are 3 main types of surfboards out there, the shortboard, longboard, and the fish – there are over 10 different types of mixtures of styles and boards.



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