Beach Water Sports – Surfing on Oceans, Lakes and Rivers – What Type of Surfboard do I Need Today?

Have you ever gone to the beach and realized that the surf is “up” and you don’t have the right surfboard to surf on? Not only did you waste time and gas to get there, but you probably ruined your day surfing as well. You didn’t take the time to plan in advance what you should have done the night before and that morning before loading your car, truck or van to drive to your chosen surf spot.

Where are You Going?

As a surfer, you have to make decisions every day before you go to the beach, be it by the sea, the lake or a river. You have to choose where you want to surf and what type of surfboard you want to surf. Of course, the surfboard you choose depends on the conditions and the type of surfboard(s) you have.

When you go to the sea to spend your local holiday or other time out from home, it is important that you look at the surf report to find out what conditions you can expect. The conditions determine the type of surfboard you will be using that day.

What are Your Options?

The surfboard you choose for the day is also determined by the type of surfboard you have in your quiver. I know surfers who have up to 25 different types of surfboards, but this is not normal for most of you. Many surfers, especially beginners, have only one or two. So if the types of surfboards you have don’t fit the conditions of the spot you choose, you’d better think about where or what you’re going to do.

Have One of Each Type of Surfboard

It would be a good idea for any surfer to have at least two surfboards and nowadays even three. You should have a longboard, a shortboard, and a SUP. The longboard is for the softer waves. The shortboard for the more radical waves that require a higher performance level and a SUP aka Standup paddleboard for conditions where there are no waves or very small waves that are really not suitable for surfing.

Whether you go to the sea, lake or river, you can use all three types of surfboards. However, on a lake or river, you must have a boat to use your longboard or shortboard because you have to be towed behind the boat like a water skier. Surfing behind a boat is called wakeboarding. There are exceptions to this on the larger lakes, where there is sometimes enough wind to create waves called wind thresholds. Lake Michigan is an example of a lake that the locals surf.

You can ride your SUP on all waters if there is enough space for paddling. Standup paddling has probably become the most popular surfing sport. The learning curve is short and almost anyone can do it. I have seen a family of four together on their four SUPs. Surfers of all ages enjoy paddling their SUPs. You can see them every day on most waters, especially when the sun is shining. Some surfers even surf on waves on their SUP.


Skimboarding is another popular water sport, but usually for the young and powerful surfers who are in good shape. This is a method of surfing with a very small board, usually about 4 to 4 1/2 feet long, which you take with you as you run down the beach at maximum speed, drop the board into the very shallow water or wet area, jump on the board and ride it out into a wave or skim it off the shore as much as possible until you get out of swing. You can do this on any beach that has enough sand or flat surface to do what I have described. You can also drive this little board behind a boat while towed or on a wet, grassy hill that is usually found on a golf course.

Give It a Try First

There are many kinds of surfboards for many kinds of surfing. If you have the option, try renting each kind out and give it a try. That, you can easily figure what kind of surfing is most your style and buy the board that fits it.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself!

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