The ultimate beginner’s guide to choosing the right size surfboard

Are you a beginner surfer unsure of what size board to reach for? About to make your first big purchase but not sure if you should buy the 8-footer or the 9-footer? Here is a guide to choosing the right size surfboard for you!

Well if so, you are at the right place.

Ensuring that you are riding a board with the proper length tailored to your skill level and lifestyle is arguably the most important aspect of a successful surf session.

Down below is the ultimate beginner’s guide to choosing the right size surfboard!


There’s no debate when it comes to this question… longboards.

As a beginner, you should always pick to practice on longboards when choosing between the two as this will help you to perfect your pop-up and stance, and overall help you to feel more comfortable while in the water.

Trying to learn the art of surfing on a shortboard will not be efficient whatsoever. It will make everything harder such as the paddle out, balancing, and staying on your board.

This can lead to major frustration and a downgrade in your mood, both of which will have an extremely negative effect on your surf session.

You never want this, as surfing should always be accompanied by positivity!

We do get it, though, short boarding can look cooler at times, but that doesn’t mean longboards aren’t just as cool or even cooler.

Longboards allow for so many amazing things such as the art of cross-stepping and awesome tricks like hanging 10 that shortboards don’t offer.

Choosing a longboard over a shortboard will also allow for more stability during your session.

Their larger volume will make it so much easier to paddle and catch waves, ultimately helping you to learn and improve faster.


While yes, longboards are indeed one of the best options to reach for as a beginner, if you’re purchasing a board to have as your own, a mid-length one such as an 8-foot soft top might be a better option for a few reasons.

Like longboards, soft top boards are perfect for allowing beginners to learn and get their pop-up and control down. These are also arguably even easier to ride than traditional longboards.

Adding on to this, in the case of a wipeout, using a soft top will make for a much safer situation. The risk of being injured from one of these is much lower than if you were using a different board.

This board will also make getting accustomed to the “surf life” and the transition between taking lessons and heading out on your own so much smoother.

I mean, think about it. As a newer surfer, you are probably not yet used to carrying a heavy board around all the time, so having to hold one that might have the length of something close to 10 feet can be really difficult at first, especially if you’re by yourself.

Owning an 8-footer will also make getting to and from the surf spot you’ve chosen much more efficient.

When you’re first starting out, you most likely won’t have surf racks yet, and if you don’t have a big car, getting a longboard to your surf spot can end up being a bit difficult.

Would you believe us if we said the 8-foot soft-top board can fit in small cars with the addition of even another board?

Imagine you own a longboard and are heading out with a friend that owns a longboard as well, and you’re driving them in a small car. We can guarantee you this is most likely not going to work if your boards are anything over 9’. Having an 8-footer on the other hand, will make for much easier transportation.

You can easily fit in almost any size car and usually do so without having to maneuver the seats or do anything super out of the way.

Check out this HOKALI article that goes into more detail about an 8-foot soft top!

There have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve had friends who didn’t drive that wanted me to take them out surfing. One of my uncles has been so gracious and kind enough to continuously lend me his 8-foot soft top for my friends to use in these situations.

I drive a Honda Fit which is a pretty small car and definitely not by any means the best for holding longboards. I ride a 9’6”, and surprisingly, I’m able to fit in my car as long as I put protection on my windshield.

Unfortunately, two longboards will absolutely never be able to fit in my tiny car, but the 8-footer was and always has been able to fit, even alongside my longboard, due to its flexible size!

Now that you’ve read about the best size boards for beginners to reach for, we hope you’re feeling better prepared and knowledgeable about what might be fitting when choosing the right size surfboard. Also, you can have a look at our online shop to find the right surfboard!

Remember, ensuring that you are riding a board with the proper length tailored to your skill level and lifestyle is arguably the most important aspect of a successful surf session.

Never forget that this article will always be here to help and guide you as you grow and thrive like the HOKALI team knows you will!

Good luck, stay safe, and have fun out there!


Once you choose your board, you should learn to care for it, check out this post to find out more!

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