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Types of Surfboards

As the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. The same goes for surfboards! The right board for the right conditions can make or break your session. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice eager to catch your first wave, understanding the characteristics and purposes of different types of surfboards is essential. 

From the high-performance agility of shortboards to the classic stability of longboards, surfboards come in various shapes and sizes, each tailored to different surfing styles and wave conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the types of surfboard available, exploring the characteristics, best-use scenarios, and iconic surf spots associated with each type of surfboard. Whether you’re carving the face of a powerful wave or gracefully hanging ten, finding the right type of surfboard is essential!


Description: Shortboards are generally between 5 and 7 feet long with narrower dimensions and more aggressive rocker line. They are highly maneuverable and responsive, making them suitable for advanced surfers in more powerful waves. This is the go-to board for most intermediate to advanced surfers. 

Best for: Powerful, steep waves with good energy.

Examples:  The Mentawai Islands in Indonesia, Boat Charters in the Maldives, Hudhurnafushi in the Maldives.


Description: Longboards, typically 8 to 12 feet in length, have a wider and more stable platform. They are great for beginners due to their stability and ease of paddling. Smaller longboards (around 8-9 feet) are excellent for beginners and intermediates, providing a stable platform for learning and smooth rides. Heavier logs (10 feet and above) are usually preferred by more advanced surfers for classic maneuvers, nose riding, and stylish turns.

Best for: Small to medium-sized waves, ideal for beginners and mellow, cruise-style surfing.

Examples: Malibu in California, Lombok in Indonesia.


Description: Funboards, also known as mid-length boards, fall between shortboards and longboards in terms of size (usually 7 to 8 feet). They aim to combine the stability of a longboard with some of the maneuverability of a shortboard, making them versatile for a range of conditions and skill levels.

Best for: Varied conditions, suitable for a mix of wave sizes and types.

Examples: Canggu in Indonesia, Kabalana Beach in Sri Lanka.


Description: Fish boards typically have a wide, round nose and swallowtail design. They are shorter and wider than standard shortboards, providing good paddling speed and maneuverability. Fish boards excel in smaller, mushier waves.

Best for: Smaller, mushier waves with less power and steepness.

Examples: Smaller Days in the Maldives and Indonesia, Hirikitiya in Sri Lanka


Description: Step-up boards are bigger shortboards that give you extra paddle power and confidence in heavier surf. They are usually a bit longer with extra volume than standard shortboards. Step-ups are there to help you get in early, make the drop, and pull into the wave of your life with confidence!

Best for: Solid, sizable waves with steep faces.

Examples: Cloudbreak in Fiji, G-Land in Indonesia, Bankvaults in the Mentawai Islands.


Description: Guns are designed for big-wave surfing. They are longer (usually 7 to 12 feet) with tons of extra volume to give maximum paddle power. Guns come in many different shapes with different fin and tail configurations to match the waves they are designed for. They all have one thing in common though, they’re made to charge!

Best for: Large, powerful waves with significant size and energy.

Examples: The Bombie, Uluwatu in Indonesia, Nazaré in Portugal, Cloudbreak in Fiji.


Description: Hybrid boards combine elements from different board types to create a versatile option. For example, a “hybrid shortboard” might incorporate features from both shortboards and fishs.

Best for: Various conditions depending on the specific hybrid design.

Examples: Popoyo, Nicaragua, Rincon in California.


Description: Egg-shaped boards have a rounded nose and wide, round outline. They offer stability and ease of paddling, making them suitable for beginners and surfers looking for a more relaxed, cruisy ride.

Best for: Small to medium-sized waves, excellent for cruising and relaxed surfing.

Examples: Small days in the Central Atolls in the Maldives, Low Season in Indonesia

Mini Malibus:

Description: Also known as a mini-mal, these boards are a smaller version of the traditional longboard. They provide a good compromise between the stability of a longboard and the maneuverability of a shortboard.

Best for: Small to medium-sized waves, great for beginners and those transitioning from longboards.

Examples: Batu Bolong, Canggu in Bali, Summer in Sagres in Portugal, the Pass, Byron Bay in Australia.


Description: Soft-top boards have a foam deck and are often used for beginner surfers due to their stability and forgiveness. They are less likely to cause injury and are excellent for learning the basics of surfing.

Best for: Small, mellow waves; ideal for beginners practicing the basics.

Examples: Weligama in Sri Lanka, Beachbreaks in Costa Rica, Beachbreaks in Portugal

Written by James Colston

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Customer Reviews

AWAVE Travel

Customer Reviews

Omar AlJammaz 03/07/23

Great travel options, great customer support, simplifying planing process.
Looking forward for my next trip.

Nina Ross 03/08/23

Awesome holiday to Hudhuranfushi. Giulia was very helpful and quick to respond and overall we were very impressed with Awave Travel.
Lohi's is a private, on site, awesome left hander that just kept giving. Also had options of 2 daily surf boat trips that went to other local breaks such as Sultans, Ninja's, Cokes, Jails. The surf team are amazing and we scored great waves the whole time we were there.
Stayed in a Sunset family beach villa which was perfect for a family of 4, then upgraded for the last 3 nights to Ocean Villas, both great for different reasons!
Island staff are so helpful and welcoming, and there's a good variety of food options available. Lots of other things to do such as paddleboarding, jet ski-ing, spa treatments, yoga and amazing snorkelling - with sharks, turtles and rays! We also hired bikes to get around and do morning surf checks!
An amazing trip, thank you Awave and Hudhuranfushi!

Seb Speck 25/06/23

We had an amazing time on the Mentawai islands booked through Awave Travel.
Giulia was very helpful and available at all times during the booking process. And we had the best time on the Mentawais on the Maki Boat. The staff were amazing. Raul the surf guide was very helpful, friendly and coached us on the waves. Kaique the photographer produced top quality pictures and videos from the water, boat and drone.
Overall very happy and would highly recommend it.

Tom Ward 18/06/23

We charted Seafarer for a 10 day trip in the Maldives. We booked with AWAVE about 12 months before. James was super helpful, really responsive and just easy to deal with. We even made a very last minute change to go to the central atolls which he arranged pretty much straight away. The trip itself was unreal, great surf, amazing wildlife and scenery. If you’re thinking about a surf charter, do it and book through these guys!

Natasha Gronski 06/08/23

Awave Travel is the best surf travel agency I have ever booked! They are very professional and responsive to my inquiries and are able to match me with a surf trip appropriate to my interests and skill level. They have an outstanding relationship and reputation with the resorts that they work with, which makes a difference in the consumer experience. Above all, the Awave staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about the areas they recommend, as they have actually surfed the spots and stayed at the resorts. For anyone who wants a hassle-free, no worries, relaxing and fun surf adventure, Awave Travel is the way to go!

David 05/29/23

8 of us stayed at Hudhuranfushi for my 50th birthday celebration. The resort and services were amazing. James and the team at AWAVE stayed in contact from the beginning to end to ensure we had everything we needed. Great experience. Definitely looking forward to booking our next trip with AWAVE in the near future.

Alexandra Franz 05/31/23

We spent amazing days in Morocco in Amouage. Was an amazing stay and the full surf package offered by AWAVE was great.
All the people were very nice and coaches were amazing. Booking was very smooth, answered all my questions and they took care of everything.
I took the coaching package and had a great time and learning. The teacher was great, very patient and explained everything very nice and calm. Felt safe all the time and had a lot of fun as well.
My boyfriend had the guiding package and he also had a great time. He was always taken to the spots that fitted his level and enjoyed the full when conditions were nice.

Alex Reuter 05/22/23

We stayed at Ayada in Maldives and I can't be more complimentary of AWAVE! Awesome and patient advise over whatsapp on which resort to go to with extremely details local knowledge on surf conditions, wave spots, resort quality, which atolls to go to, etc. I followed their recommendation and it was spot on. Easy booking on short notice before the trip, can't thank James enough!

Stewart Cropp 05/19/23

Our remarkable trip was 12 months in the was awkward to organize because there was so many people coming and going over our two week chartered cruise.
I can’t speak highly enough of AWAVE and more to the point ,the wonderful Giulia Manfrini. She is so caring and sweet and far above and beyond any travel consultant that I have ever worked with
Thankyou Giulia for all your prompt answers to my gazillion questions
You are “Simply the best”.
Now onto the Carpe Diem
The trip of a lifetime was had by all 20 of us
The Captain and crew worked tirelessly to pander to our every whim
They would not allow us to lift a finger
Our Barmen Shawn and Cook ( still can’t pronounce his name ) were superb, the food was first class and varied and the alcohol flowed like a river
Our Surf guide “Seppe” found waves for us every day except for two while we travelled deep into the central Attols
We were greatful for the rest
We snorkeled with the sharks and visited uninhabited Islands spent an afternoon being spoiled at a high class resort .
All in all an Awsome trip

Diane 05/11/23

James helped us organize our trip in April for my partner and I in the Mentawai.
First, lets discuss the service : James was super clear and reactive. We received a list of resorts with different price ranges and he provided all the elements for us to decide based on our needs and budget. We felt very supported for the organization and we even received so advices few days before leaving for packing.
I was a bit afraid as i'm not a good surfer so i reach out many times to understand how I could still try and learn and James always replied very quick and with all the info i need.
Then when we arrive : it was super well organized, everything went smooth and we fell in love with the place and people. We can tell they really worked on their resort selection and travel organization and we trust our next adventure will be as qualitative.
Already recommended their service ;).