If you are looking to try out surfing and cannot decide which board would be best, below is our list of the best foam surfboards. Our list contains surfboards that are great for both beginner and experienced surfers.
Foam surfboards are wonderfully buoyant, simple to maneuver and makes catching waves easy for novice riders. There are longboards and shortboards, although longboards are easier for beginners to maneuver.
If you do not know what to look for in a surfboard, we have a buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions, to help you decide which board would be best for you.
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The Driftsun Nymbus Foam Surfboard is great for expert riders and is the Best Budget Budget buy on our list. It has wonderful buoyancy with its thruster nose and curved rear, and makes smooth turns and take-offs.
It has an EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam core which provides maximum stability for the rider.
The added stability and buoyancy of the board helps riders to stay on the board longer, and the soft EPE (expanded Polyethylene) foam deck has superb traction and also means that falls will not be too rough or painful.
Wax can be added to the deck, although it is not required due to the excellent traction of the EPE.
The Driftsun Nimbus has 3 removable fins and a heavy duty core which aids novices in catching waves and building confidence.
With its EPS and EPE materials, this foam surfboard makes staying afloat and standing up easier and more comfortable.
The removable fins provide riders (even the inexperienced ones) to have better maneuverability with smoother take-offs, sharper turns and better control.
Wave Bandit is one the more popular surfboard brands and the EZ Rider 9’ was designed for beginners and experienced riders alike.
It has double Maple wood Stringers, an EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) core and a smooth, slick HDPE bottom that allows it to slice easily through the water.
The board has a round nose and tail, giving it an egg-like appearance and thus helps the user maintain balance when standing.
EZ Rider is also lightweight and has excellent buoyancy, making it easy to handle in and out of the water.
The EZ Rider 9’ has a pop through removable TPU 4.5in tri-fin set and a pro-style leash attachment. The top deck does not have an anti-slip texture and requires wax to prevent slipping when standing.
The Bear Series 7’ is one of the California Board Companies many great foam surfboards.
Suited to beginner and experienced surfers alike, the board is constructed of an EPS foam core with 3 built-in wooden stringers for added flexibility.
The top deck contains an IXPE/XPE deck skin that hardly requires any wax at all, ,and has a traction pad for grip.
The board features a slick, hard polyethylene bottom and removable tri-fins that allow for smooth gliding and easier turns in the water.
Both the bottom and top decks feature a full graphic, making sure you look stylish while catching those waves. The Bear Series 7’ includes 3 removable fins, a PU leash and a protective tail cap.
One of the most popular foam surfboard brands in the US, Wavestorm™ is lightweight and easy to handle.
It is also perfect for those who are learning to surf, as its top deck and rails are constructed of soft IXL water barrier skin crosslink. Thus, no slipping when the board is wet.
With its continuous refinement, the 8 ft Classic is the Best Overall foam surfboard on our list, and one of the best surfboards for beginners as well.
It has a strong EPS (expanded polystyrene) core with a 3 x Marine-ply Stringer system and a high density HDPE polyethylene slick bottom skin to maintain the board shape.
The Wavestorm 8ft Classic comes complete with removable bolt through fins, an ankle leash, a traction pad and a soft board sock cover to protect the board.
The board measures 8 ft (243.8cm) in length, 22.5 in (57.4 cm) width, 3.25 in (8.3 cm) in thickness and it weighs 11.5 lbs (5.2 kg).
Liquid Shredder FSE 9 ft is great for beginner surfers, hence why Surf Instructors are so fond of them. The stable wide template is perfect for novice riders, but is equally suited to experienced riders as well.
The Liquid Shredder is a Classic foam Longboard with a soft EPE (Expanded Polyethylene) anti-slip deck and has an EPS (expanded polystyrene) core with a PP (polypropylene) slick, hard bottom that makes this board fast in the water.
The surfboard has a removable Tri-Fin Thruster fin system (fins included) and the EZ-Seal rubber fin system prevents water from entering the board, thus maintaining its buoyancy.
There are 2 wooden stringers and one fiberglass for added strength and stiffness, and the surfboard is heat laminated - no glue - for a cost effective foam board that offers high performance.
The Liquid Shredder FSE 9ft was designed with the novice surfer in mind, and offers a comfortable, soft and stylish surfing experience.
The South Bay Board Co. Premium Beginner Surfboards are designed with novice users in mind.
These 3 boards (the 7’, 8’ and 8’8) are incredibly durable with a Closed-Cell EPS Molded Foam Core.
They each have a Double Concave Bottom Deck with a Cross-Hatch Dispersing Net, which not only disperses impact but also enhances speed and control.
They each contain 2 wooden stringers and 1 Fiberglass Rod Stringer, as well as a hands free Heat Release Valve and PVC lined fin holes to prevent water from entering.
The boards have a wax-free top deck with an IXPE Compressed Finger Print Textured Foam Deck. There is also a 6 oz Resin layer on the top and bottom decks for added durability.
Rock-It 5’8” has been created as the perfect foam surfboard for beginners. It is wonderfully buoyant, allows even novice surfers to catch waves easily and the stylish design ensures that you look great doing it.
The top deck features soft IXPE grip foam, and the board is further constructed with fiberglass cloth, 6oz epoxy resin and an EPS core. There are 2 wooden stringers for added durability and a slick HDPE hard bottom designed to allow easy gliding through the water.
The soft IXPE foam top is vacuum and heat sealed to prevent bending, although it is advisable to keep it out of direct sunlight when not in the water.
A Alpenflow 7’ is designed for beginners with its unique pointed nose, double concave bottom and pin tail design. This unique design gives the board extra speed and fin performance, making it ideal for novice surfers.
The board features a lightweight, high density IXPE top deck cover protective skin, 6oz fiberglass top and bottom, and a HDPE reinforced plastic bottom.
The popular stringers are double reinforced and there are three 5in thruster fins and one 9in center fin.
A straight leash and traction pad are also included which is necessary for beginners to keep from slipping off the board.
This greatly depends on what is used on the top deck. Certain foam surfboards have anti-slip textures on top which requires little to no wax at all. Thus, those boards without any anti-slip feature will need to be waxed regularly (such as after each use in the water). If it is not waxed, you will find that you will have a much harder time standing on the board without slipping.
Yes. This is especially important if the top deck is not textured or has no anti-slip feature. A traction pad will prevent slipping when you stand, making it less likely that you will fall off. Even if it has an anti-slip feature or you add a wax, a traction pad would still be a good idea for a novice surfer. Some surfboards come with a traction pad, although it is more likely that you will have to purchase your own.
Yes it does.
The tri-fin system (used in most of the surfboards in the list above), offers riders easier maneuverability and turning capabilities in the water. It conveniently gives a longboard the same performance as a shortboard, without the disadvantages that a shortboard usually has for novice riders. It gives a longboard better turning capabilities than it would usually have.
There is also a thruster fin system which has a single large fin in the center with an asymmetric chamber fin on each side. This serves the purpose of lifting the board and straightening it out when it directs the energy of the incoming wave.
There are also Quad fin systems, although they are much less effective since they are slow and you will not catch much waves with them.
The purpose of the stringers in a foam surfboard is to minimize flexibility and to increase the strength of the board. A surfboard needs to be firm with excellent buoyancy and very little flexibility in order to stay above the water when a rider stands on it.
Stringers are either made of wood or carbon fiber, although wood is the more popular choice. Foam surfboards are more flexible than other types of boards and thus require the added stability that stringers provide.
Longboards are better for novice riders.
Shortboards offer better maneuverability, however they are less buoyant due to their smaller size. This makes it more difficult to catch waves with a shortboard and requires more strength and power from the rider. You will also need to time the waves perfectly or you will never catch on.
Longboards are the opposite. They have great buoyancy and have an easier time catching waves, requiring less effort on the part of the rider. They also glide smoothly through the water and depending on the type of bottom used, longboards can be quite fast too.
Foam surfboards are either made of Polyurethane (PU foam), Expanded polystyrene (EPS foam) and Extruded polystyrene (XPS foam).
The PU foam boards are heavier but also stronger and firmer. They are the prefered choice used by experienced surfers. The EPS foam boards are lighter which makes them easier to handle but they are not as strong as the PU boards and they have too much flexibility. PU foam is also easier to mold by hand than EPS foam, although machine molding has become increasingly popular, no matter which type of foam is used.
XPS foam is as heavy (or sometimes heavier) as PU foam and naturally resists water whereas EPS foam tends to absorb water easier.
This is probably the simplest and easiest thing you can do for your board: get a surf bag. Surfboards are surprisingly fragile outside of the water and can be easily damaged during storage or transport. A surf bag serves as protection against dings and knocks that can cause major damage to your board.
Another simple solution is to keep your board safe by not putting it in unsafe positions. Leaving the board upright gives it the chance to fall over or for someone to knock it over and break it. Ensure your board is always in a safe and secure spot. This means that after surfing, put your board away in your car or flat on the ground out of the way where it will be safe.
Be sure to remember to give your board a quick rinse after every use to prevent the salt water from corroding it.
Shortboards are more suited to experienced riders since it has less buoyancy than longboards. They are faster and easier to maneuver but they also require you to crest the wave at the perfect moment. Due to their smaller size, shortboards also need larger and more powerful waves
Longboards are the prefered surfboards for novice and inexperienced riders as they are more buoyant and easy to catch waves with. They have more stability than shortboards and glide through the water easier. Many longboards now use the tri-fin system which adds the shortboard’s easy maneuverability to this classic board, making it that much better for beginners to learn on.
The added stability and buoyancy of a longboard means that you will be less likely to fall off while trying to catch those waves.
Polyurethane (PU foam) with polyester resin has been the prefered foam used for surfboards for a long time since it is easy to shape by hand and machine. This is a non-recyclable material and there is some concern with its toxicity. However it is the most commonly used foam for foam surfboards and is still highly popular.
Polystyrene (PS foam) with epoxy resin on the other hand is lighter than PU foam, and while might seem like a good thing, it also means that it is more flexible and not as stiff which is not what you want in a surfboard. This is why the epoxy resin is used to increase its strength. The polyester resin that is used in PU foam cannot be used with PS foam as it causes the PS foam to melt. PS foam is also more difficult to shape by hand and a machine is usually used. There are two types of PS foam: Expanded polystyrene (EPS foam) and Extruded polystyrene (XPS foam).
The EPS foam is very lightweight and thus incredibly difficult to shape by hand. It also has the disadvantage of absorbing water too easily. On the other hand, XPS foam weighs as much as PU foam. It also naturally resists water absorption, making it the better choice between the two.
The foam boards usually have a fiberglass skin although bamboo, carbon fiber, hemp kevlar and innegra as sometimes used.
The top deck can also be textured, or have a soft EPE (Expanded Polyethylene) anti-slip deck. The bottom usually either has a PP (polypropylene) slick, hard bottom or a HDPE reinforced plastic bottom.
PU foam boards are still the prefered choice by experienced surfers.
The tri-fin system offers riders easier maneuverability and turning capabilities in the water. It conveniently gives a longboard the same performance as a shortboard, without the disadvantages that a shortboard usually has for novice riders. It gives a longboard better turning capabilities than it would usually have while maintaining its easy glide in the water.
There is also a thruster fin system which has a single large fin in the center with an asymmetric chamber fin on each side. This serves the purpose of lifting the board and straightening it out when it redirects the energy of the incoming wave. You will catch more waves and are less likely to fall off your board while doing it, although this fin system might be easier for intermediate to experienced riders.
There are also Quad fin systems, although they are much less effective since they are slow and you will not catch much waves with them. You will only very rarely see this type of fin system on a surfboard, and then only experienced surfers will be able to use it with any amount of effectiveness.
Foam surfboards are not as strong or firm as other types of boards. The foam makes the board lightweight and easier to handle, but it also gives the board more flexibility which is not a good thing when you need to stand on it.
The purpose of the stringers in a foam surfboard is to minimize flexibility and to increase the strength of the board. A surfboard needs to be firm with excellent buoyancy and very little flexibility in order to stay above the water and to hold the weight of the rider when they stand on it.
Stringers are either made of wood or carbon fiber, although wood is the more popular choice. Foam surfboards bend more easily than other types of boards and thus require the added stability that stringers provide. You would not want to stand on a board that will bend under your weight. Not only will you not catch any waves, but the board is very likely to sink with you on top of it.
Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.