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10 Best Beginner Surfboard Brands: In-depth Guide

When buying any expensive hardware, having an idea of the main brands on the market is essential to be sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck.

A beginner surfboard, although not crazy expensive, is still the kind of purchase that it’s really important to get it right first time to save money and hassle.

For this reason, I’ve compiled a guide to the best beginner surfboard brands

So, in no particular order, here are 10 of the best beginner surfboard brands with their relevant price point and durability, according to their construction:

Beginner Surfboard BrandPrice PointDurability
MF SoftboardsPremiumExcellent
Catch Surf (Odysea)PremiumExcellent
Wave BanditMediumAverage
Kona Surf Co.BudgetAverage
Spooked Kooks (Australia)PremiumExcellent
South Bay Board Co.1) Budget and 2) Premium (different ranges)1) Average and 2) Excellent
Wave Storm (by CostCo)BudgetExcellent
Ocean and Earth + Mark Richards (Australia)BudgetAverage
Note that the above contains some affiliate links.

Now this information only gives part of the picture, so below we’ll look at a bit more of the story behind the brands, as well as their best models for beginners. Let’s get to it!


Softech have been around for a while and make some amazing boards that are incredibly fun and have a great shape.

The Roller model is the best model for beginner surfers as it has the classic mini malibu template that allows for easy wave catching and paddling. It also has plenty of volume, making it easy to stand up and learn to ride waves on.

The Bomber model has a generous template that is as fun as it is forgiving, making it a great option for smaller or lighter learner surfers.

Something Softech as a brand has gone for is a lot of collaboration with pro surfers, with the likes of Mason Ho and Evan Geiselmann having signature models, although they also have models for the younger surfers or ‘grommets’, with Kyuss King’s Rocketfish model a hit for shorter but more advanced surfers.

Although this isn’t for beginners, it shows that their boards are functional and fun, with lots of surfers enjoying them.

Best Beginner Models

  • Softech Roller: Follow the size guides on their website, a size for just about anyone learning to surf
  • Softech Bomber: 6’10 version for adults and teenagers under 140 pounds (64kg)

MF Softboards

MF stands for ‘Mick Fanning’, the 3-time world surfing champion, also known for being that guy being attacked by a great white shark in a surf competition in South Africa a few years ago (and fortunately surviving unharmed).

A few years ago, Fanning came together with some other pro surfer friends to make soft surfboards that were both safe and functional, with the MF Softboards range being launched in 2017 and selling out everywhere almost instantly.

The MF Softboards range caters for all sizes, ages and abilities so it really is up to you but the two clear winners look like the Beastie for adults and the Little Marley for kids.

I was trying to get myself the MF Beastie surfboard for several months but they kept selling out so fast I gave up after several months!

However, you can see the video of a surf school owner below talking about how great the MF Beastie is for learning to surf on.

All MF Softboards also come with a safety-conscious set of FCS soft-flex fins, meaning one less thing to buy and also peace of mind in the surf.

Best Beginner Models

  • MF Beastie: Follow the size guides on their website, a size for just about anyone learning to surf
  • MF Little Marley: For children learning to surf; check their website for more but, if in doubt, go for the Beastie model instead.

Catch Surf

Catch Surf are an extremely fun and vibrant brand of soft surfboards. Their 80s designs and colors make all of their boards and accessories stand out a mile.

They’ve also ignored the traditional paths of surf brands and have gone for something completely of their own making, keeping the fun and wackiness as part of their brand without losing their soul.

Their first surfboard came about as a way to “beat the black ball” rules on southern California’s beaches in summertime, where surfing was banned in favor of protecting swimmers from getting hit by surfboards. However, they spotted the obvious loophole in these rules: bodyboards were allowed because they were below a certain length, made of soft foam and had no fins.

This led to the guys behind Catch Surf designing their first model, the ‘Beater’, a short, finless and wide foam board that could be used even with the blackball rules in place.

From there, the brand has developed their collection to include many more boards, with quite a few being ideal for learners.

The Catch Surf Log is the standout model from their range, again being the usual mini mal template but also having a serious amount of volume meaning that the larger models will be able to float just about any learner surfer.

In terms of the shorter boards, these could be great for kids learning to surf, with model like the Stump and even the 54” Special being suited for smaller children, provided you follow the instructions on their website.

A quick point to note is that ‘Odysea’ is a range of the Catch Surf boards, so it is from the same trustworthy brand although some product listings online do not reflect this.

Again for kids, Catch Surf’s collaboration with Lost Surfboards, one of the best surfboard brands in the world, has resulted in playful soft versions of some of Lost’s most enduring designs, including the Round Nose Fish (RNF) in soft form

Best Beginner Models

  • Catch Surf Log: Sizes to cater for all learners, see website for your size according to your height and weight, although these boards are popular and frequently sold out.
    • A similar alternative are the Wave Bandit boards, as detailed in the following section of this article.
  • Catch Surf Lost Round Nose Fish (RNF): Suited for kids and younger teens learning to surf (in the larger sizes).
  • Catch Surf ‘Odysea’ Stump: Suited for only the really kids learning to surf given the shorter length.

Wave Bandit

Wave Bandit are another all-softboard brand coming out of the USA, yet again ideal for learners.

You may have seen their boards ridden by surfing’s first DIY YouTube star, Ben Gravy, with his signature model featuring bright decals with a cool skull pineapple design.

They are actually in some way connected with Catch Surf, perhaps as a subsidiary (but don’t quote me on that!) although Wave Bandit Differ in their price, offering a budget option with boards that are cheaper than Catch Surf. 

The reason for this price difference appears to be in the stringers, with Catch Surf generally having 3 stringers in their longer boards whereas Wave Bandit only have two.

Best Beginner Models

Kona Surf Co.

Kona Surf Co. are based in New Jersey but inspired by Hawaiian surf culture and vibes, hence the name of the company.

They offer all kinds of surfboards both on their website and over on Amazon but they also have a dedicated softboard range for beginner surfers over on Amazon (USA).

A nice touch to the Kona Surf Co. softboards is their black and white checkered decal on the bottom of their softboards, adding a funky and lively design to each board.

They also make for a great deal, including fins and a leash with each surfboard, meaning that you only really need to buy wax and you can be in the surf pronto!

A great added safety touch is that their softboard fins come with a soft edge, making them that much safer again than standard surfboard fins.

For learner surfers, the most versatile beginner board that they offer is the Malibu softboard, in a range of sizes to suit all ages, heights and weights. 

The 5’5 softboard is good for small children who want to learn to surf.

Best Beginner Models

  • KONA SURF CO. Malibu Beginners Surfboard (Amazon USA): Full range of sizes to suit all sizes and ages, all listed in the Amazon product description.
  • KONA SURF CO. 5’5 (Amazon USA): Suited for small children learning to surf – see the product description on Amazon for height and weight recommendations.

Rock-it Surf

Rock-it are a softboard only surf brand out of Virginia Beach, VA. offering great, fun learner surfboard options.

Nick Naylor founded Rock-it surfboards after a frustrating experience trying to buy a soft-top surfboard for a 5-year-old to learn on.

Rock-it surfboards also have a charitable ethos with this mindset mentioned on their website. For instance, 2% of net profits for all surfboards sold go to good causes, among which have included Waves for Water and local surf camps.

They also state that all materials used are recyclable, given their boards some nice added eco-credentials. This is along with other environmentally conscious products and processes involved in the board, showing their corporate social responsibility and giving an insight into the ethos of the brand.

Rock-it boards also have a potentially shark-deterrent black and white print on the bottom of each board. As they note, this is not definitively proven to prevent shark attacks but looks like it could be helpful, so why not put it there!

I will save your time listing boards here since all Rock-it surfboards are suited for beginners, just for different sizes, as listed below!

Best Beginner Models

  • All of their surfboards: see their website here
    • Big Soft, Moby or Facerider for older children and adults
    • Any of the other, shorter models for kids
    • See the Rock-it Surf website for sizes and volumes

Spooked Kooks

Spooked Kooks out of Australia are fairly new on the scene but made an immediate impact with their softboards and funky designs.

Showing their ethos and intentions, all Spooked Kooks boards are all made from recycled plastic waste to try to help the major issue of plastic waste around the world.

As the guys from Spooked Kooks note in the video below, it’s not a solution to the wider problem, but it’s doing something to help with putting waste products back into production cycles and making something positive out of them

All Spooked Kooks boards come with a free cotton bag for your board, as well as fins and a key to attach the fins. 

I should add that the Dead Hippie model is currently my small-wave surfboard and I ride it just about all the time given how much fun it is!

I’ve really enjoyed using the board and decided to buy one after my own failed attempts to find either a Catch Surf Log or MF Beastie in the same length.

These kinds of boards just make small wave riding so much fun, even on days when I might not usually go out.

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Me out on a very small day on my 8’0 Spooked Kooks Dead Hippie, captured with my wife’s GoPro (!). Even though I’ve been surfing for years, I have so much fun on this board, especially when the waves are tiny. For reference, I am 6’0 (1.83m), about 180 pounds (78kg) and the board has 60 liters of volume.

Best Beginner Models

  • Spooked Kooks Dead Hippie (official website): for all adults and older children, sizes vary
  • Spooked Kooks Batrat for small children up to about 8 years old.
  • Spooked Kooks Tomby for children 8-10 years old
    • I should note that one father I was speaking to mentioned that he thought the logo on the Tomby was a bit scary for his young boys, so bear that in mind if looking at this board.

South Bay Board Co.

South Bay Board Co. also offer a great budget range of surfboards for beginners.

Their website talks of the origins of the brand arising from a mission to serve individuals better than mass-market branded surfboards could, with a focus on price.

From their boards available online, they certainly have kept their word and offer some of the best-value beginner surfboards of decent quality online.

The South Bay Board Co. headquarters are in LA, with another warehouse in Greensboro, NC.

All of their boards come with fins and a leash, making for a nice surfer starter kit. Added to that, their boards are designed with an easy carry handle in the deck, making no difference to riding them but making it easier for younger or smaller riders to carry.

Again, all of their boards are made for learners so it’s really about getting the right length and volume to suit you, or the rider’s, height and weight. Some tips on the best models below.

Best Beginner Models

  • Guppy: for small children and adults on a budget
    • Just note that the lower price here is reflected in the durability, so think about this when buying
  • Casper and Mahi: for smaller kids
  • Verve and Heritage for older children and adults

Wave Storm

Comes with a traction pad for grip and a nice bonus.

It has 3 stringers through the board, making it strong and reliable 

It comes with fins but these are quite cheap and flimsy, so that’s where they save some extra cost but this isn’t a big deal with learner surfers and could even be changed if needed.

That said, with that being the only reason for this board’s incredible price, then it’s pretty much unbeatable in the sense that it’s cheap, strong (3 stringers) and comes as a starter package.

It’s only with the CostCo brand and distribution that they can keep prices down, so that helps to explain just how much cheaper it is than others.

That said, it’s still very much a generic template with little input from keen surfers, so it’s not quite as well designed as the other boards listed here

You can also see the summary of The Kearns Brothers’ review of the Wavestorm soft-top surfboard below:

Best Beginner Models

Ocean and Earth with Mark Richards

This is probably the newest arrival on the beginner softboard scene but trusty hardware brand Ocean and Earth with 4-time World Surfing Champion Mark Richards sounds like a winning combination to me.

They have a few fish shape softboards in a range of fun colors that are, because of their length, suited to children learning to surf.

As well as being a multiple world-title winning surfer, Mark Richards is also a surfboard shaper, being a huge proponent of the twin fin fish surfboard in the seventies and eighties (and winning most of his world titles on the boards he shaped for himself). This means that the boards have a good shape and design, being wide and great for catching waves.

The shorter length suits kids since it keeps the weight down and means that

The two models here are the Ezi Rider for children up to about 10 and the Bug for children as small as you like up to about 8-9 years old, depending on size.

These boards also come with fins (only 2 for their design) as well as a fin key.

Best Beginner Models

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