As the choice of cheap surfboards on the market has increased, each brand has had to search for a way to make their range of products stand out. The boards in this category now vary a lot, so which one is right for you?
Construction quality vs. price, shortboards vs. longboards, and variations in the fins and accessories offered are just the beginning. Buying a surfboard the wrong length, width, or volume for your size and ability is just going to waste money. Worse, it could ruin your whole experience of surfing.
So, before you dive into your preferred online store to search and click on the first product you see, take a moment to check out my top 5 picks in the highly competitive cheap surfboards category.
- 1 Cheap Surfboards
- 1.1 The Top 5 Cheap Surfboards
- 1.2 FAQ
- 1.3 Final Thoughts
The Top 5 Cheap Surfboards
#1 Best for Larger Surfers - Wavestorm 8' Surfboard
#2 Best for Beginners - SBBC Guppy 8'
#3 Best for Performance - Wavestorm Swallowtail 5’6
#4 Best for improving surfers - Thurso Surf Aero 7'
#5 Best value for money - Giantex 6'
Wavestorm have been making cheap surfboards for over 15 years and are the most recognized brand in the world.
The 8' Classic has a traditional longboard shape, constructed using a high quality EPS core with 3 marine-ply stringers under the soft foam deck, and an HDPE base. At 8' x 22.5" x 3.25", it is the largest board included in this review, edging out the South Bay Board Company's Guppy.
The triple stringer in the EPS core makes this surfboard more robust than some other options in the category and suitable for riders up to 200lbs+. However, this does mean a little more mass. Weighing in at around 11.5lbs, combined with the size of the board, the Wavestorm can be a little unwieldy for smaller riders to drag back and forth from the car to the waves.
Catching even mushy summer waves takes hardly any effort on a board this length with a volume 0f 80litres, and the width makes staying balanced a piece of cake. I'd recommend these for beginners as a really easy entry into surfing and great boards to build confidence on. It will also go well for more experienced longboarders looking for a cheap, durable alternative to their usual log.
The built-in textured traction pad gives good grip for the back foot but I found the rest of the foam deck a little slippery when surfing. Despite the company's assertion that the board is good to go without wax, a quick coat really helps get both feet securely planted without sliding around.
Pro's & Con's
South Bay Board Co. are a family owned and run brand with operations on both coasts of the USA.
They manufacture: surfboards, SUPs, bodyboards, wakesurf boards and skimboards.
The Guppy, SBBC's entry into the beginner surfboard world, is longer and wider than their high performance options, whilst more manageable than true longboards.
The board has a similar closed-cell EPS Core to the Wavestorm but with two stringers instead of three, which helps to keep the weight down.
The Guppy is also slightly narrower and less thick at 8' x 22" x 3" but still has plenty of volume.
The board is more manageable for smaller surfers than the slightly meatier, heavier Wavestorm, especially given the addition of a strategically placed carry handle.
The trade-off is in rider weight, with the Guppy only being rated for a surfer up to 180lbs, and recommended for surfers under 160lbs. This doesn't mean a larger surfer can't have fun on one (I'm 210lbs and it'll still go for me), but it would be way less suitable as a beginner board for someone my size.
In addition, I really liked the textured finish to the foam. This feature is designed to make wax application easier, building up a nice grippy coat almost instantly and giving plenty of traction.
Pro's & Con's
The Original New Modern 5'6" swallowtail shortboard from Wavestorm uses the same triple-stringered EPS core and HDPE base as their larger surfboards.
The deck is different though, featuring an "Elastomer Barrier Skin" with more texture than the Classic, which means better UV protection and, more importantly, more grip.
Unlike the previous two surfboards, the ONM is aimed at shortboard-style surfing performance.
At 5'6" x 21" x 2.75" and 4.8lbs, it's the smallest surfboard I'm reviewing here.
With a volume of just 42litres, it's not going to be as easy to catch small summer waves as on one of the longboards, but....
Simply put, think fast and loose. This little fish loves to be chucked around and, thanks to the soft foam layer, it's great for pushing yourself and trying maneuvers you might shy away from on hard shortboards.
The only real problem with the ONM is its length limits the height of surfer it is suitable for. These boards are definitely for kids, or small adults with sufficient experience to catch waves on fish surfboards or performance shortboards. A novice adult surfer will need more volume to catch waves.
Pro's & Con's
Thurso Surf are an SUP brand who decided to transfer their reputation for quality, affordable products into the world of surfing.
The Aero 7' has similar construction to the boards from Wavestorm (EPS core with 3 marine-ply stringers, HDPE base), along with screw-fixed interchangeable fins.
Dimensions are 7' x 21.5" x 2.75" and, with a volume of 57litres, this surfboard is significantly less chunky than many of the other beginner surfboards I've seen.
The build quality is good and the boards are rated for surfers up to 210lbs.
Catching and surfing waves is still easy but less width does mean less stability, so be prepared to work on your balance.
The advantage is this makes the board more responsive and easier to turn.
This is a great choice for a surfer who has previously ridden waves on larger boards and wants to start developing their surfing further, rather than as an absolute beginner surfboard.
Pro's & Con's
Californian based Giantex are less surfing-specific than the other brands in this article.
They have an extensive range of sporting goods and other products, with two surfboards currently on the market.
The 6' board sits very much in the lower end of the price range.
The construction is simple: EPS core, HDPE and PP base and a slippery EPA deck (wax definitely required), which does affect performance and durability to some extent.
The artwork fades quite quickly and the base eventually starts to peel.
However, this is not as critical as it sounds. The value in this board is in the price itself.
A beginner surfer is usually ready to move on from their first surfboard after a few months, so spending extra money on a higher quality construction is less important than for more advanced surfers riding bigger waves.
The Giantex 6' is small for a beginner board at 6' x 20' x 3', but the thickness adds volume and means that at 10lbs it's hardly a lightweight option. It's designed to support a rider weight up to 200lbs but is better suited to shorter riders or kids owing to the length. It's a really fun starting point for beginner surfers to take their first waves and therefore deserves its place on my roundup of cheap surfboards.
Pro's & Con's
What is the average cost of a surfboard?
The price of surfboards varies wildly depending on brand, construction, and where you shop. Many are in the $400-$600 range but some longboards can cost as much as $1400+.
How much is a cheap surfboard?
It is possible to pick up cheap surfboards from as little as $100-$150, although the better quality products are usually in the $150-$400 range.
Why are surfboards so expensive?
Even basic beginner boards require fairly complex construction and expensive materials. The stresses surfboards are put under by the sport require a lot of strength, while the outer shell has to be resistant to salt water, temperature changes and UV.
Which surfboard is best for beginners?
Beginner surfers are best using a soft foam topped surfboard with enough length and width for them to catch and surf waves easily. The above review includes some great products for beginners.
Remember, the right surfboard is more about you than just brand, size, or even price. Be honest with yourself about your level and what you want to get out of surfing, and you'll have a great time in the water.