Tired of sitting on the beach while all your friends surf the summer away? Here's how to find a board that will get you up on a wave in no time.
Step 1: Know what you're looking for Beginners should look for a board that's wide, thick, and at least 3 feet taller than they are. A bigger, thicker board, called a longboard, or fun shape, provides stability to help you balance, and is more buoyant ¬– meaning you'll paddle faster and catch more waves. Steer clear of high performance shortboards, which are difficult for beginners to maneuver.
Step 2: Visit your local surf shop Check out your local surf shop. Surf shops often sell boards made specifically for beginners. They're made of soft foam so you keep yourself and others safer in the water while you learn.
TIP: If you don't have a surf shop near you, many larger shops sell boards over the internet. Some online retailers specialize in selling mass-produced, affordable beginner surfboards.
Step 3: Consider a used board Browse the classifieds, garage sales, and surf shops for used boards, which can save you money if you're not sure whether you want to get serious about surfing. Poke around at the end of the summer, when surf schools sell their beginner boards at local shops for low prices.
TIP: If buying used, beware of unrepaired dings and noticeable spots where water may have soaked into the core of the surfboard.
Step 4: Visit your local surfboard shaper If your budget is higher and you live near a surfboard shaper, ask for a custom board. This is an expensive option, but supporting your local shaper is great for the surfing community, and you'll be able to establish a relationship with a person who can make you new boards as you improve.
FACT: In the 18th century, pre-colonial Hawaiian surfers rode flat finless wooden planks called alaia, which gaining popularity among today's surfers.