16 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 out there.

Although most boards might look quite identical, there’s a big difference to the whole feel and way the board reacts in different surf conditions. Choosing the right type of surfboard can be a tricky task, so hopefully, this article clears some thoughts.

Down here you’ll get a glimpse of different types of surfboards available in 2022.

Surfboards standing up
Quiver = A surfers’ collection of surfboards

1. Longboard


longboard surfboard

  • Riding style – Nose riding and performance longboarding.
  • Types of Waves – Small to medium. 2ft to 6ft waves.
  • Average Length – 9′ – 12′.
  • Different Types of Longboards – Performance longboards, nose-ride longboards.
  • Weaknesses – Heavy and slow to maneuver, nose dive in hollow waves, almost impossible to duck dive.
  • Fins – Single, thruster

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

The original, classic, or a 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. A large single fin, and two smaller side fins, the ‘side biters’. Longboards are super easy to paddle and hold the line very well. Large = stable.

PROs

  • Early paddle-in.
  • Fast to paddle.
  • Good in small and big waves.
  • Can ride a wave for a long time.
  • Stable on fast and hollow waves.

CONs

  • Impossible to duck-dive.
  • Hard to turn.
  • Heavy.

 

 

 

2. Shortboard


shortboard surfboards

  • Riding Style – Performance.
  • Types of Waves – Fast & hollow. 3ft to 10ft.
  • Average Board Size – About the same height as the surfer.
  • Different Types of Shortboards – Pintail, round tail.
  • Weaknesses – Slow to paddle.
  • Fins – Thruster, quad, 5-fin

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-dives, late take-offs, carves, jumps’ etc. That’s where the shortboard thrives!

Shortboard surfboards have generally either a 3- or 5 fin set-up. That makes them the most maneuverable on a fast wave.

PROs

  • Can ride fast and hollow waves.
  • Easy to duck-dive.
  • Lightweight.
  • Superb maneuverability.

CONs

  • Need to be fit to ride one on a daily basis.
  • Slow to paddle.
  • Late take-off.

 

 

 

3. Fish Surfboard


fish surfboard

  • Riding Style – Performance, relaxed.
  • Types of Waves – From small and weak to 2′ overhead.
  • Average Board Size – 2 to 3″ smaller than a perfectly chosen shortboard.
  • Different Types of Fish Surfboards – Retro fish / Hybrid Fish.
  • Weaknesses – Unstable on powerful waves.
  • Fins – Twin, quad.

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. Fish surfboards have quite a bit of volume in the board which makes them easy to paddle, and easy to take off on a moving wave.

The original fish comes with a twin-fin set-up while there are a bunch of boards with a quad fin set-up as well. Also, the fish surfboard is something many other types of boards are inspired by – whether it’s the fin set-up or the fishtail design that’s carried out to other board types.

PROs

  • Can be ridden in various conditions.
  • Lightweight.
  • Great maneuverability.
  • Easy to duck-dive.
  • Fun.
  • Plenty of volume for the size.

CONs

  • Hard to paddle.
  • Late take-off on larger waves.
  • Not as stable on larger waves.

 

 

 

4. Hybrid Surfboard


hybrid surfboard

  • Riding Style – Mixed from laid back to performance.
  • Types of Waves – Small to medium. 3ft to 6ft in ideal.
  • Average Board Size – From 5’6″ to 7′.
  • Different Types of Hybrids – Shortboard inspired, longboard inspired, fish surfboard-inspired, mid-lengths.
  • Fins – Thruster, quad.

Most likely the widest spectrum of different surfboard designs combined into one – a hybrid. Another must-have item to a quiver, the hybrid surfboard is an ideal tool for a wide variety of surf conditions. An ideal surfboard for a traveler who wants to ride as many waves as possible with just one board only.

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

PROs

  • Can be ridden in various conditions
  • Great all-around surfboard
  • Many different sizes and shapes are available

 

 

 

5. Funboard / Malibu / Mini-mal


solid surf co malibu surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed.
  • Types of Waves – Knee, ankle-high to 6ft.
  • Average Board Size – 6′ to 8′
  • Different Types of Funboards – Mainly the one, malibu type

Closely related to 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 those that can not be ridden with a typical hybrid.

PROs

  • Great all-rounder.
  • Beginner-friendly.
  • Rides well in fat and mushy waves.

CONs

  • Lots of volume making it difficult to duck-dive.
  • Slow to turn on a moving wave.
  • Not as stable on fast waves.

 

 

 

6. Foamboard / Soft-top Surfboard


funboard surfboard made of foam

  • Riding Style – Relaxed, fun, beginners.
  • Types of Waves – Small, slow, poor quality, whitewater.
  • Average Board Size – From 48″ to 9′
  • Different Types of Foamboards – Long, beginners’ to fun hybrid and beater boards.
  • Fins – Twin, thruster, quad.

Foamie. Those are boards are mainly ridden by beginner surfers who are not as acquainted with the size and handling of those large boards in the waves. Foam or soft-top surfboards have a forgiving nature when getting wiped out on a wave. Foam boards are lightweight and lively. Almost all surf schools use foam boards that are 8’+ long.

PROs

  • Affordable.
  • Fun on shore-breaks.
  • Safe for beginners & other surfers around.
  • Won’t ding as easily.

CONs

  • Limited maneuverability.
  • Too much volume.
  • Not great for turns.
  • Not as durable.

 

 

 

7. Beater Board Surfboard


beater board surfboard made of foam

  • Riding Style – Fun, beach brakes.
  • Types of Waves – Shore breaks, sketchy waves.
  • Average Board Size – 48″ / 54″.
  • Different Types of Beater Boards – Twin Fin / Finless.
  • Fins – Twin, quad.

One of the latest and hottest trends – is 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 means that there is no watercraft allowed alongside swimmers, but as the beater board is made out of foam – it 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, PU or EPS surfboard. This type of surfboard is suitable for all skill levels, and wave types.

PROs

  • Affordable.
  • Super fun on shore breaks and odd waves.
  • Small in size making it great to maneuver.

CONs

  • Hard to stand up for a beginner.
  • Limited stability & maneuverability.

 

 

 

8. Egg Surfboard


egg surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed, fun.
  • Skill Level – Intermediate to Advanced.
  • Types of Waves – Fat and slow.
  • Average Board Size – 6′ to 8′ long.
  • Different Types of Egg Surfboards – Mainly the same shape as shown on the image.
  • Fins – Twin.

Egg surfboards are named by the obvious shape of an egg – 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 in conditions where you can’t paddle in with a shortboard.

PROs

  • A great alternative to foam & beater boards.
  • Can ride small waves and have tons of fun.

CONs

  • Not stable on fast & hollow conditions.

 

 

 

9. Midlength


midlength surfboard

  • Riding Style – All-round riding.
  • Types of Waves – Small to large. 3ft to 7ft.
  • Average Board Size – 6’8′ to 8′.
  • Different Types of Mid-lengths – Funboard, malibu.
  • Fins – Thruster, quad.

Closely related to hybrids and funboards, mini-mal’s, and malibus – the mid-length surfboard is a great all-rounder for various surf conditions. Equipped with a thruster set-up, this board is a great alternative to longboards. Easy to paddle, you can still duck dive to some degree.

PROs

  • Great all-rounder.
  • Can be ridden in both small and big waves.
  • Plenty of volume = early take-off.

CONs

  • Too much volume makes it hard to duck dive.
  • Hard to turn on fast waves.

 

 

 

10. Gun Surfboard


  • Riding Style – Performance.
  • Types of Waves – XL-XXXL waves.
  • Average Board Size – 7′ – 10′.
  • Different Types of Guns – Standard, mini-gun.
  • Weaknesses – Work only on fast and follow waves, hard to turn.
  • Fins – Single, quad.

The big wave gun surfboard is basically a stretched shortboard, built to ride the biggest waves around. 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.

PROs

  • Great board for big waves

CONs

  • Can be ridden a certain wave-type only

 

 

 

11. Tow-In Surfboard


  • Riding Style – Fast & hollow.
  • Skill level: Advanced to professional.
  • Types of Waves – XL – XXXL waves.
  • Average Board Size – 6′ – 6’6.
  • Different Types of Guns – Mainly one type.
  • Weaknesses – Hard to turn.

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

PROs

  • One trick pony.

CONs

  • Can be ridden only with the assistance of a jetski.

 

 

 

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.
  • Fins – Quad, twin.

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.

PROs

  • Great alternative to egg, or a soft-top beater board.
  • Easy to duck dive.

CONs

  • Rides great in fat & small waves only.
  • Limited maneuverability on fast waves.

 

 

 

13. Grom / Youth’s Surfboard


kona all-round allrounder surfboard

  • Riding Style – Intermediate-Advanced.
  • Skill LevelIntermediate – Advanced.
  • Types of Waves – Mid-high quality.
  • Average Board Size – Generally up to 6ft.
  • Different Types of Grom surfboards – Shortboard, hybrid.
  • Fins – Thruster, quad, 5-fin.

Grom surfboards are generally performance-shortboards shaped for young surfers. Most large surfboard brands have a series of surfboards for the offspring that are based on their other popular shapes.

PROs

  • The choice for intermediate & advanced young surfers.

CONs

  • Expect above average physique to use this board daily.

 

 

 

14. All-Rounder Surfboard


kona all-round allrounder surfboard

  • Riding Style – Relaxed to carving.
  • 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.

All-rounder surfboard is referred to a hybrid surfboard that’s used for the widest variety of conditions the surfer is capable of riding. Slightly above average in volume, these boards can be used for relaxed and performance wave riding preferences.

PROs

  • Rides well in various conditions.
  • Plenty of volume under the chest making it easy to paddle.
  • Early & late take-offs.

CONs

  • Don’t know, add in the comments if you find any.

 

 

 

15. Step-Up Surfboard


  • Riding Style – Performance.
  • Types of Waves – Large & fast.
  • Average Board Sizen/a
  • Different Types of Step-Up Surfboards – Gun, Mini Gun, Performance Shortboard, Tow-in Surfboard

A step-up 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 early paddle-in for large conditions where a typical shortboard would struggle to ride.

 

 

 

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 – Won’t work on increasing surf quality.

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


 

FAQ

 

What are surfboards made of?

  • Foam – Beginners & fun boards.
  • Epoxy (EPS) – Light, durable, fast, and snappy.
  • Fiberglass (PU) – A traditional surfboard material, characterized by a distinctive ‘feel’. Fiberglass surfboards hold a better line in 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 Hybrid, Beater, Egg, Malibu, Funboard, Foamboard, Gun, Tow-in, Grom, Groveller, etc.

What Type of Surfboard is Best for Beginner Surfers?

The type of surfboard a beginner should get depends on whether the surfer would like to progress or surf just for fun. The two main types of beginner surfboards are the hybrid/midlength for an advanced beginner or a soft-top/foam funboard for those who’d l.

If you consider yourself a total beginner who likes to go out occasionally on vacations or on the weekends, a soft-top foam board would do the trick. The soft top foam board is easy to paddle and stand upon.
– 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. It takes quite a bit of effort to stand up on a beater board for a beginner surfer though.

A Progressing Beginner is better off getting either a hybrid, midlength, or a mini-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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About the author

Ermo J

I created Nulltuul to share my experience, knowledge, and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels, I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.

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