The Different Types Of Surfboards

Posted on August 16, 2019 by Jeff Hale

Find The Perfect Type of Surfboard For Your Style

The types of surfboards you ride say a lot about your personality and experience in the water. Veteran surfers know what they love and likely have a large collection (quiver) of boards from which to choose. But it can take years for new surfers to find the perfect surfboard without the right guidance.

Surfboards are designed and built for a wide variety of surf conditions and rider skill levels. The combination of surfboard shapes and design details is infinite, which can make selecting the right type of surfboard difficult. And there’s so much crossover between surfboard designs these days that it's difficult to classify a board by one category. But even among all the different types of surfboards on the market today, there are a number of general guidelines you use with confidence to narrow your search. And if you’re shopping for a new surfboard, it’s helpful to learn about all of the different types of surfboards to make sure you’re getting the best board for your skill level and the waves you intend to ride.

shortboard surfboard

Shortboard

The modern shortboard is the most popular type of surfboard for high-performance surfing in the best conditions around the planet. These boards typically range from 5’4” to 6’4” in length. They feature three fins in what’s called a thruster setup and have a pointed nose to cut through the water efficiently in sharp turns. Because of their smaller size and relative lack of buoyancy, they’re not ideal beginner surfboards. Their lightweight construction makes them particularly susceptible to dings and damage.

  • Recommended Skill Level: intermediate to advanced surfers
  • Recommended Size Waves: small to large
  • Typical Dimensions: 6' x 19.28” x 2.45” (31L)
Fish-Hybrid Surfboard

Fish/Hybrid

A fish surfboard or hybrid surfboard is yet another variation of the standard high-performance shortboard. A fish features much more volume in the board's nose, greatly helping with a surfer’s ability to catch waves. These boards traditionally feature two fins and a relatively flat rocker. These elements help the board glide across the water easily while creating more surface area for added speed. But its hallmark feature is the split tail design that’s reminiscent of a fish’s caudal or tail fin. This tail creates a longer rail for a shorter board, offering surfers enhanced drive and a quick release on turns.

Fish surfboards were incredibly popular in the 1970s but have enjoyed a significant renaissance over the last decade. Fish surfboards are ideal for surfers who want a little help making the most of smaller waves but like the idea of approaching a wave with a classic style that’s similar to riding a longboard.

  • Recommended Skill Level: intermediate to advanced surfers
  • Recommended Size Waves: small to medium
  • Typical Dimensions: 5’8” x 25.5” x 2.31” (31.6L)
Funboard Surfboard

Funboard

The funboard is the ideal beginner surfboard. With a typical length of 7’6” and soft top (foam) construction, the funboard has enough buoyancy to keep beginner surfers floating, while still being small enough in shape to learn how to turn effectively. These boards typically feature three fins in what’s known as a thruster setup. They’re the perfect surfboard for learning how to surf, but they’re also fun for experienced surfers to ride in smaller waves or crowded lineups.

  • Recommended Skill Level: all surfers
  • Recommended Size Waves: small to medium
  • Typical Dimensions: 7’6” x 21.5” x 2.8” (52L)
ISLE Classic Longboard

Longboard

The longboard surfboard is an old-school board for cruising with style across gently breaking waves. A classic longboard is typically in the 9-foot range and features a large single fin and a thick wood stringer for added stability. These types of surfboards are incredibly stable in the water, allowing riders to walk to the nose of the board to enjoy the nostalgic feeling of hanging ten in style.

  • Recommended Skill Level: all surfers
  • Recommended Size Waves: small to large
  • Typical Dimensions: 9’4” x 23” 3.2” (78.6L)
Mini-Longboard

Mini-Longboard

The mini-longboard or “mini-Malibu” bridges the gap between funboards and longboards in design and intended use. They typically range in length from 7’6” to 8’6” and feature an assortment of fin options. The size and buoyancy of the mini longboard make them great for beginners, but they’re particularly fun for advanced surfers who can turn these little cruisers into high-performance machines in a wide variety of conditions. 

  • Recommended Skill Level: all surfers
  • Recommended Size Waves: small to large
  • Typical Dimensions: 8’ x 22.8” x 3.1” (61.1L)