If your child is learning to surf, it’s important to make sure they have the appropriate gear.
For some sports like soccer, you can just find some second hand soccer cleats and they are ready to play! But being a parent to a young surfer is a bit more complicated because there are so many different choices when it comes to surfboards.
It seems like I am always talking to other parents about surf gear, and the conversation always swings to the same question, “What is the best surfboard for kids?”
I asked every surfing mom and dad I know and did some research to write this article as a resource for parents.
Finding the right surfboard for your kid can be tricky. For kids learning to surf, selecting a surfboard that is sized correctly is the most important factor. Parents should also consider surfboard style and construction when selecting your kid’s next surfboard!
Congrats, you are a parent to a surfer grom! Grom is short for grommet and means a young person that enjoys extreme sports. Don’t forget that surfing is all about enjoying being outside and having fun!
Read on to review a Helpful Parents Guide to Surfboards For Kids.
Age Matters When Choosing Kids Surfboards
Finding an appropriately sized surfboard will depend on your child’s age, flexibility and athletic ability. If they are under the age of 7, the type of surfboard they ride will be significantly different than what a teenager will need.
I have separated the surfboard recommendations into three different broad age categories to help you narrow down your search: under 7 years old, 8-12 years old and teenagers aged 13-19 years old.
You may need to take suggestions from each category based on your child’s development and starting place.
Surfboards for Kids for Under 7 Years old
For kids under 7 years old, surfing is all about getting comfortable near the ocean. For parents, you should remove your expectations and think about this period as a time of discovery and learning as your child gets more comfortable at the beach.
It is perfectly normal for young kids to be very cautious at first and prefer to learn about the ocean by playing on the shore, making sand castles, watching others and dipping their toes in the water.
Kids may be reluctant to try surfing for the first time. It is intimidating for kids to go towards breaking waves. Kids may just want to hold onto your hand and play in the whitewater, which is the broken part of a wave that washes into shore.
This is totally normal. It is always best to accommodate your child’s comfort level because you don’t want to push them to surf in deeper water before they are ready.
The best choice for kids under 7 years of age is a body board, which is also called a boogie board. This may come as a surprise but your kid doesn’t need a surfboard at this age. Body boards are small and easy to handle for young kids.
And don’t worry, kids can learn all the surfing basics on a body board.
This is my daughter, pulling the body board around in the shallow water away from the breaking waves. Following mom, watching, learning and in control of her own experience in the ocean. We were supervising but trying not too dictate her experience or push her passed her comfort level.
Surfboards for Kids 8-12 Years Old
When kids are between 8-12 years of age, they are about the right size to have their own small surfboard. At this age, they are stronger and will be able to carry their own board to and from the water.
The best type of construction for your child is a surfboard made out of foam.
Foam surfboards, also called soft topped surfboards are great for kids (and adults) because they are softer and more forgiving. Foam surfboards reduce the chance of injury by having softer edges and fins reducing the chances of your kid getting bumps and cuts when they come into contact with their surfboard.
Also, make sure to match the appropriate surfboard to their size so they are able to manouever the board when in the water. If the surfboard is too big, it will be hard to handle and become frustrating for your child.
Surfboards for Teenagers (13-19 Years of Age)
Selecting the appropriate surfboard for your teenager will depend on their skill, experience and athletic ability. Because kids learn and progress at different speeds, you will need to chose a surfboard that works for them but also be willing to move on to a different shape or style as they get better.
Foam surfboards are still a great starting point at this age. Foam surfboards are fun for all ages and you can keep it for years even if your kid progresses to a board that provides more performance.
Teenagers may need a larger board (7-9 feet in length) based on their height and weight so the surfboard provides enough bouyancy and stability to help them catch waves.
How Do I know When My Kid is Ready for A Real Surfboard?
Kids will tell you when they want their own surfboard. A surfboard is a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Carrying a surfboard to and from the beach and taking it out into the waves takes energy, strength and determination.
Although kids learn surfing and progress at different speeds, there are generally three common stages of progression:
1. Most kids initially gravitate to a body board, also called a boogie board because they are small, light and the perfect size for kids. As well, many people learn to become comfortable in the ocean by catching already broken waves close to shore on a body board.
2. After mastering the body board, kids will usually want to ride tandem with mom or dad on a longboard, which is a surfboard that is 9-10 feet long.
This allows the child to catch and ride waves on a big, stable surfboard under the close supervision of an adult. Mom or dad will do most of the work to carry, paddle and position the surfboard and your kid just needs to concentrate on standing up.
3. After riding a body board and surfing on a big board with mom or dad, kids may want to try their very own surfboard. Make sure they have the strength and swimming ability to safely handle their own surfboard.
You will need to supervise or surf with them as they learn to surf with their own surfboard but use your own judgement to know when they are ready to surf on their own.
I rode a body board for many years until deciding that I wanted to try a surfboard. I didn’t surf with my own surfboard until I was 15-16. At that age, I was strong enough and was a competent swimmer so my mom was comfortable with me being in the ocean with friends on my own surfboard.
What Surfboard Size is Best for Kids
Surfboards should provide enough length, flotation and stability for your child to easily catch waves. If the surfboard is too small for your child, it will be difficult for them to catch and ride waves.
To determine the correct size of surfboard for your child, you should start by focusing on the Volume, which is expressed in litres and the Length, which is expressed in feet and inches.
Volume is related to how much buoyancy or flotation the surfboard will provide. Surfboards provide flotation so that surfers can stand up without the board sinking. The heavier the surfer, the more flotation that is needed to catch waves.
A quick calculation to determine the approximate volume (in litres) for a beginner surfer is your weight (in kilograms) times one.
|Volume (litres) = Weight (in kilograms) x 1|
As your child progresses past the beginner stage, they will require less volume in their surfboard. If you would like to check out an online Surfboard Volume Calculator, click on the link to be redirected to the Global Surf Industries website.
Length is related to how long the surfboard is and it is expressed in feet and inches. The longer the surfboard, the more challenging it will be for your child to handle in the ocean.
Longer surfboards are easier to paddle and catch waves because they have more surface area but they are harder to position and submerge to get under breaking waves.
To determine the correct length of a surfboard it will be largely based on the size and strength of your child. I have included a general sizing chart below from SurfboardsDirect.com.au for your reference.
What Surfboard Construction is Best for Kids
As mentioned previously, the best surfboard construction for kids are boards that are made out of foam, which are also called soft top surfboards.
Foam surfboards are a great option for kids because they have a padded foam deck, softer rails and plastic fins, which reduces the bumps and bruises that comes when you come in contact with your surfboard.
Check out the picture below of a foam surfboard from Isle Surfboards explaining the different components including a foam deck, foam inner core and a slick bottom.
Foam surfboards are very durable and won’t get dings or become damaged very easily. You will save costs because you won’t need to purchase a surfboard bag for extra protection during transport, you can just strap the surfboard to the top of your car and head to the beach.
Foam surfboards are the top recommended boards for beginners and the primary surfboard used by surf schools and surf instructors. But they aren’t just for beginners, more and more experienced surfers have a foam surfboard because they are versatile and fun!
What Style Surfboard is Best for Kids
Generally, there are four different surfboards styles that you could consider for your child including a shortboard, fish, mid-length or funboard and longboard.
I will describe the main features of each different style of surfboard.
Fish – a type of short, wide surfboard that is typically around 6 feet or shorter in length. Fish surfboards make it easier to catch waves than a short board and maintain speed in small waves.
Shortboard – a type of surfboard that is usually 6-7 feet long with a pointy nose. It is designed for quick turns and maximum maneuverability.
Mid-Length or Funboard – is a type of surfboard that is typically 7-8 feet long and has a wider outline and more volume than a shortboard. They are very versatile because surfers are able to ride them in a wide variety of wave conditions.
Longboard is a type of surfboard that is typically 9-10 feet in length and provides maximum floatation and stability for beginner surfers. Longboards are easy to paddle and work well in small waves.
Buying a New or Used Surfboard for Kids
When buying a surfboard, it can be a bit challenging to find the right surfboard for your kid. But it is worth the effort because your kid will be very excited to have their very own surfboard!
I remember when I was 16 and my mom bought me my first surfboard. She bought a used surfboard for $100 from a friend and gave it to me for my birthday. I was so excited and it meant the world to me to have my very own surfboard!
Check out some tips below to help you decide between a new or used surfboard for your child.
Buying New Foam Surfboards for Kids
Foam surfboards have increased in popularity over the last several years and there are lots of different surfboard companies that are making quality foam boards.
Prices for new foam surfboards range from about $100-$500 depending on the quality, style and performance attributes. You can find new surfboards at local surf shops, online and even at Costco.
Surf Shops are a great place to buy a new surfboard for your kid because they will have all the up to date information and lots of different surfboards to look at and consider. As well, they will be able to tell you which surfboards are recommended for the waves in your area.
At a surf shop, you may be able to try out some of the different surfboards that are available by renting them to give them a try, which is a great way to dial in the size before making a decision to purchase.
Online is a great place to conduct research and find a new surfboard for your child. There are so many boards to chose from and lots of different companies that are offering surfboards for sale.
Make sure to check out the shipping costs before making the purchase because they can be fairly expensive relative to the cost of the surfboard. Surfboards are large objects to ship and expect to spend anywhere from $50-$400 based on the length and width.
For the top recommended surfboards for kids, click on the link to be redirected to the Recommended Gear page.
Buying Used Foam Surfboards for Kids
Buying a used foam surfboard for your kid is a great way to save money. You can usually find used foam surfboards at surf shops, surf schools, online classifieds or anywhere that they sell or rent surfboards. Often, they will have a rack of older rental boards that have been repaired but still have a lot of life left.
But make sure to inspect the surfboard before buying and if it has extensive damage or shows signs that it was buckled or folded in half (perpendicular lines on the deck of the board), you should walk away and keep looking.
Don’t feel bad about being picky, foam surfboards are fairly inexpensive when new ($100-$400) so you don’t want to overpay for a used surfboard. I am generally looking to get a 40-50% savings when buying used or I will just buy new.
Buying a foam surfboard for your kid is going to make your child very happy! Once you have purchased a surfboard, now you will need to think about how you are going to transport it to and from the beach.
If you want to read about tips on how to fasten surfboards to your vehicle, check out my article by clicking on the link to 17 Tips on How to Strap Surfboards to Your Car.
Thanks for reading!