Types of Surfboards

🕓   8 min read

✏️   Updated on 18th April 2024


Understanding the different ‘Types of Surfboards’ available can really help you decide which surfboard fits you best.

In this article I’ll be going through each surfboard type as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

1. Types of Surfboards
2. Foam Surfboards / Foamies
3. Mini Mals
4. Longboards
5. Funboards / Hybrids
6. Fish Surfboards
7. Shortboards
8. Gun Surfboards

It’s a really easy read, so let’s get started.




1. Types of Surfboards

So let’s start with the basics… there are different surfboard types for different surfing abilities.

What this means is that if you’re a beginner surfer, you’ll need a different surfboard compared to an experienced surfer.

Below we have the seven most common surfboard types. I’ve also ordered them from 1-7 in terms of the level of experience needed to ride them (1 = beginner surfer and  7 = experienced).

Types of Surfboard

Types of Surfboard

In the next bit we’ll go through each surfboard type to discuss their advantages and disadvantages.


2. Foam Surfboards / Foamies

Let’s start with every surfer’s first surfboard, the foam surfboard or foamie as it’s sometimes called.

Whether your buying your first or tenth surfboard, I’d like to think a foamie was involved at some point in your surfing journey. These surfboards are mainly used by surf schools and beginners learning to catch their first waves.


Advantages of Foam Surfboards

There are a few solid reasons foam surfboards are great for surfing beginners;

  • Buoyancy – They have huge amounts of buoyancy which gives that initial stability needed to stand up for the first time.
  • Durability – They are very durable so it doesn’t matter too much if they get thrown around a bit whilst being learned on.
  • Safety – The foam makes them comfier to land on or get hit by and are therefore safer for beginners.
  • Usability – They can be used successfully in pretty much any conditions.
  • Price – They’re the cheapest type of surfboard to buy making them a great first surfboard for beginners.


Disadvantages of Foam Surfboards

There are also some disadvantages to foam surfboards, these include;

  • Size – They’re one of the biggest surfboard types out of all the surfboard types. This makes it super difficult to transport and store.
  • Weight – They’re also one of the heaviest surfboard types out of all the surfboard types. Although in my mind, carrying these things up and down a beach is a bit of a right of passage for a beginner surfer.




3. Mini Mals

The next surfboard type you’d typically progress onto after a foam surfboard is the mini mal surfboard type.

These are essentially smaller versions of the longboard, which were known as a mal or malibu surfboard – hence mini mal. It has similar characteristics to a longboard but is not as long, adult sizes range between 7ft 6 – 8ft 6.


Advantages of Mini Mal Surfboards

There are a number of reasons surfers progress from a foamie onto a mini mal.

  • Buoyancy – Mini mals are still super buoyant, this means they still have a lot of that initial stability foamies give when beginners are learning.
  • Progression – They’re more manoeuvrable than a foam surfboard allowing new surfers to work on their first turns.
  • Weight – Because mini mals are hardboards they’re much lighter in weight, making them easier to carry.
  • Usability – Mini mals can be used in a huge variety of conditions so are a great addition to any surfboard collection.
  • Resale value – All of these above features make mini mal surfboards popular on the second hand market.


Disadvantages of Mini Mal Surfboards

So, what are the disadvantages with a mini mal?

  • Size – Although they’re not as big as a foam surfboard, they’re still fairly bulky. So again, it’s a bit of a faff to transport and store.
  • Price – If you’re thinking of buying a mini mal brand new from a higher end brand, they can get quite pricey.
  • Safety – The hardboard nature of a mini mal makes them slightly less comfortable to land on in comparison to the softer foamie.


4. Longboards

Onto the mini mals big brother, the longboard.

Ranging all the way up to 12ft, the longboard is rightly named due to it being the longest surfboard type. With ancient Hawaiian bloodlines, this surfboard type is also the oldest and most traditional of all the modern day surfboards.


Advantages of Longboard Surfboards

Despite being third on this list some surfers happily go from a foam surfboard to a longboard, here’s why…

  • Buoyancy – The volume within a longboard gives them fantastic buoyancy, whilst the surface area underfoot makes them incredibly stable.
  • Easy paddling – The excessive length helps the board glide on the water, making it super easy to get up to speed when paddling.
  • Resale value – Longboards holds their value very well on the second hand market.
  • Tricks – The unique length means it’s the easiest surfboard to perform tricks. From cross steps and drop-knee turns to hang fives and hang tens.
  • Style – Longboard surfers tend to have a certain fluidity when moving along a surfboard, something that’s completely unique to longboard surfers.
  • Tandem – Another exclusive feature to the longboard is that it’s big enough to share!


Disadvantages of Longboard Surfboards

But, there are some disadvantages to this fantastic surfboard type…

  • Size – Longboards are of course, the biggest surfboard type available making them the more difficult to transport and store.
  • Weight – Longboards are also the heaviest surfboard type, hope you don’t mind carrying it!
  • Price – The more surfboard you want the more it tends to cost, longboards are certainly one of the most expensive surfboard types on this list.
  • Usability – They’re designed to catch green waves so are not great at catching broken waves, like the foamie and mini mal.
  • Manoeuvrability – They’re difficult to turn quickly, but in a way that makes them more elegant.
  • Getting out the back – Because of their sheer size they can be super difficult to get ‘out the back’ on big mushy days.
  • Duck diving – I don’t know anyone who can duck dive a longboard.
  • Safety – Being the biggest and heaviest surfboard type, it’s also one of the most dangerous boards if you fall off it.




5. Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards

Next is the funboard, also known as the hybrid surfboard.

Now, these are basically the love child of a mini mal and a short board. This was the surfboard type I went for after the foam surfboard and in summary – it was a great decision.


Advantages of Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards

  • Usability – Funboards are renowned for being able to catch any wave, whether it’s broken or unbroken this thing will catch it.
  • Progression – They allow great progression from improving that quick pop up to learning those first bottom turns.
  • Size – Because of the smaller length they can fit inside most cars, no roof rack needed!
  • Weight – Funboards smaller size makes them easier to carry, compared to the three previous surfboard types we’ve gone through.
  • Duck diving – With less volume in the nose this is also the first surfboard type on this list that can be duck dived (with some practice).


Disadvantages of Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards

So, what disadvantages should you be aware of with funboards?

  • Price – Because this surfboard type is so versatile, it often comes with an expensive price tag if bought new.
  • Safety – As you know by now, hard boards are not as nice to be hit by compared to a nice soft foamie.
  • Hollow waves – Although it looks similar to a shortboard, most funboards don’t quite have the rocker necessary for those steep drop-ins on big, hollow days.


6. Fish Surfboards

Next on the list is the shortest and most agile so far – the fish.

This is the next surfboard type I hope to progress to (if I ever sort out my bottom turn).


Advantages of Fish Surfboards

  • Stability – Despite being typically very short, the width in the middle section of a fish surfboard helps it keep good amounts of stability.
  • Usability – The go to for fun on smaller days, a fish surfboard can generate enough speed to have fun even in the worst mushy conditions.
  • Weight – With the majority of fish surfboards being under 6ft 4, they’re very lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Size – At 6ft 4 and under, they’re also much easier to transport and store.
  • Duck diving – The reduction in size and volume means they can be easily duck dived.
  • Manoeuvrability – With two pivot points instead of one at the tail, fish surfboards are agile in both directions.


Disadvantages of Fish Surfboards

Things to be aware of before choosing a fish surfboard;

  • Buoyancy – With a reduction in size comes a reduction in volume, expect a much more twitchy response when popping up.
  • Paddling – Less volume in a surfboard means more effort is needed when paddling, time to get those shoulders working.
  • Fragility – Exclusive to the fish surfboard type is the fragility of the tail, be sure to protect it best you can whilst out and about.




7. Shortboards

Now, onto the more high performance end of things – the shortboard.

As the name suggests, the shortboard is traditionally the shortest surfboard type available. It’s known as the high performance surfboard and is able to perform extremely agile moves.


Advantages of Shortboard Surfboards

  • Performance – It’s the fastest and most responsive surfboard type, built especially for high performance surfing.
  • Hollow waves – With a more prominent rocker in the nose, the shortboard was designed for steep drop-ins and hollow, barrelling waves.
  • Weight – Being the smallest surfboard type, it’s super lightweight and the easiest to carry.
  • Size – Again, the size means it’s also incredibly easy to transport and store.
  • Duck diving – It’s the easiest surfboard to duck dive, making getting ‘out the back’ as easy as it gets.
  • Durability – Often made using epoxy / EPS blanks, which are extremely durable.


Disadvantages of Shortboard Surfboards

Here are some disadvantages that come with a shortboard;

  • Paddling – Similar to a fish surfboard, the lack of volume in a shortboard makes it increasingly hard to get up to speed when paddling.
  • Usability – Because they’re built for optimum performance they don’t really perform in anything but solid green wave conditions.
  • Advanced – Shortboards are the most difficult to surf and require solid technique, something that can take years to build up.
  • Resale value – Unfortunately, because shortboards are so readily available on the second hand market their resale value is not great.


8. Gun Surfboards

So, the final surfboard type on this list is known as ‘The Gun’ and 99.9% of surfers won’t ever need this type of surfboard.

The gun was designed for one thing… monster waves.

These surfboards have a number of features that allow them to outrun the biggest waves in the ocean. These features include being 10ft+ in length, having a narrow body, pointy nose and pin tail.


Advantages of Gun Surfboards

  • Survival – It’s the most likely surfboard to keep you alive if you do fancy surfing a 40ft+ wave.
  • Bespoke – From the prominent rocker, slim body and pin tail – the gun was created to outrun the biggest waves in the ocean.
  • Paddling – If you’re brave enough to paddle into a wave on this thing it will get up to speed in no time.


Disadvantages of Gun Surfboards

  • Usability – It’s been designed for one purpose and one purpose only, big waves.
  • Size – They’re often the same size or bigger than longboards, so I imagine are just a big a pain to transport and store.
  • Special – This is not just any surfboard, this surfboard type is reserved for only the most daring surfers looking for their next 40ft+ wave.





That’s it guys and girls, my full ‘Types of Surfboards’ guide.

I hope you found it helpful, if you did it would be great to know your thoughts in the comments below. Likewise, if you’re currently in the process of purchasing a surfboard let us know all about that too.

As always, be sure to follow on the usual socials below to keep up to date with the latest surfing content!


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Next read: ‘Types of Surfboard Noses and Tails’

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