When looking into surfboards for beginners, foam surfboards often come out on the top of the list and the search results.
This means that most beginner surfboards you’ll see online are soft foam surfboards but you might be wondering if they are the right board for your needs.
So, are foam surfboards good for beginners? Yes, foam surfboards are fantastic for beginners because they are safer than standard boards and float very well making them easier to catch waves on. However, there are a few more points to consider, as we’ll look at below.
What Kind of Foam Surfboards Exactly?
Before moving on, Let’s be clear which kind of surfboard we are talking about here. These boards have a soft foam top and plastic bottom. The soft foam means that many people call them ‘foamie’ or ‘foamy’ surfboards.
I say this because standard fiberglass surfboards, which are coated in polyurethane resin, also have a foam core, also called a ‘blank’, so just to be sure I wanted to make sure you know that the focus here is on the soft top foam boards.
Because of how well suited these kinds of boards are for learning to surf on, you will see surf schools everywhere using them for that reason.
Soft Foam Top
The soft foam top of these beginner boards is different to standard surfboards made from fiberglass. The soft part makes these boards much more forgiving if falling off or learning on.
If you fall off your soft surfboard and it hits you in the whitewash, chances are that it won’t hurt much. However, a hard fiberglass surfboard can really do some harm, so keep that in mind when choosing your first surfboard.
The other side to consider here is the other people in the water when you are learning to surf.
As learning to surf is a hard and slow process, going out in the waves means that your board can easily hit other people when you fall off (which you will do many times over!).
Having a soft-top foam surfboard as a beginner therefore means that you can reduce the chances of hurting anyone else in the surf, which is more common than you might think.
Foam Surfboards Are Easy to Take Care of
It’s really easy to take care of your foam surfboard because having the soft top means that they won’t crack or break like a standard fiberglass surfboard might.
This means that you don’t need to be extremely careful with them when you first start surfing.
That said, don’t do anything crazy and still treat you surfboard like something you want to keep for a long time as it will last if you treat it right.
To keep your foam surfboard in the best shape possible, the main things to avoid are leaving your board in direct sunlight for a long period (when in not in use) and to not leave in a hot car.
Be sure to check out my full guide on how to take care of your surfboard for more tips and tricks on this!
Best Budget Option
Because of the way that soft foam surfboards are made, they are also an extremely good option for anyone on a tight budget who wants to start surfing.
The softer foam and plastic construction means that they can be mass produced in a way that many fiberglass surfboards can’t so it helps to keep the costs down.
With them being fairly cheap to begin with, and equally easy to take care of, foam surfboards are often easy to sell on at a good rate after you have finished with them.
This is quite different to many of the fiberglass surfboards which get things like pressure dents and dings and can be that much more difficult to sell.
If looking to sell your foam surfboard, you can then put the money toward your next surfboard on your progression!
Downsides to Foam Surfboards for Beginners
Although soft foam-top surfboards are great for beginners, they still come with some risks since surfing is a sport out in the sea without the same kinds of rules and regulations of many other sports.
The first point to note is that most beginner foam surfboards come with fins that are made of hard plastic.
Although the surface of the board will be very soft, you can still get hit by the fins so you will need to learn to fall off properly to avoid getting hurt. That is not to say that you will get hurt by your fins every time you fall, more that it is still possible to hurt yourself when using a foam surfboard, so don’t go crazy!
Another point is that some of the really cheap ones will have quite a flimsy structure. This means that, once you get to a point where you can stand up and ride the board, you might find that the board feels like it is flexing under your feet.
To avoid this, don’t go for the cheapest option, go one or two price points up as there is a good range of soft foam surfboards out there for beginners.
You can also check how many ‘stringers’ the board has. A stringer is a piece of wood that runs along the length of a surfboard to give it strength and stop it from breaking. Two strings is the minimum for decent foam surfboards but these can still feel quite flexible. The slightly more expensive ones will have 3 stringers and these are likely to last longer, although they do cost that bit more.
The final point to note about foam surfboards is that, if they do get damaged, be it from hitting rocks, being dropped or left in a hot place, then they can be tricky to repair as some surf shops might not actually be able to fix them for you. That said, if you check the exact construction of your foam surfboard online, you might be able to find the right kind of glue or filler to fix it yourself as they are not quite as complex as standard fiberglass surfboards to fix.
Progression from Beginner to Intermediate with a Soft Foam Surfboard?
Yes, you can definitely progress from a beginner surfer to intermediate with a soft foam surfboard.
The main things about progression from beginner to intermediate when surfing is that you need to go often and start to learn the movements as well as the feeling of being out in the waves.
It doesn’t really matter what board you do this on, you will still need to take time to learn and get a feel for how it is to surf.
By the time you are comfortable standing up on your surfboard, paddling out to catch unbroken waves and also riding waves, you might find that a few years have passed and that you’ve had a lot of use out of your board anyway.
As a point to note, I’ve been surfing for 20 years and I have a soft foam surfboard in my quiver and absolutely love it! So don’t think that these kinds of boards are just for beginners!
Should you wax a foam surfboard?
Yes, you will still need to wax a foam surfboard. In fact, they are extremely slippery without wax so definitely add wax on before you surf. You will also want to wax your foam surfboard before most surf sessions since the wax comes off easily.
I don’t know exactly why that is but I have found it from experience with my 8 foot foam surfboard that I use regularly.