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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 manoeuvrability. 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

Tatsiana Radchanka 04/21/2024

Amazing surf camp. Felt at home there. Super nice, kind, helpful staff. Any of my requests has been satisfied. Highly recommended!

Charles Viellevoye 03/27/2024

Very professional team. Giulia is always on and have an accurate answer to all my questions. The boat trip was incredibly well organised. Nothing was missing.

Emily Bullen 04/03/2024

Professional and Top Notch! From the moment we started planning our trip AWAVE was responsive and professional. We had a lot of back and forth picking the perfect location and resort and James and Giulia were patient and helpful. The resort we stayed at, AYADA in the Maldives, was beautiful and relaxing- great for families and couples! It was perfect for us- we have 1 surfer in the family, he was able to enjoy the waves and we also were able to enjoy the reef and snorkel as a family. Our kids loved the kids club and the private pool on the beach villas was amazing. The alcohol is expensive if you don’t do full board but that is to be expected. Wonderful vacation and amazing travel agency! Definitely recommend!!

Cobus and Jackie Van Aswegen 10/19/23

awesome last minute trip which was well communicated, friendly crew and great surf guide! waves were not the best but we realised at the time of booking that it was end of season. crew could not be more friendly and willing to help all the time - chef prepared a wide variety of food and never any complaints on that front - thanks!!!... we will be back for more!

Steve 10/07/23

I've used Awave twice ... so far. This is the second time I've used Awave for a trip to the maldives. Stayed in 2 different resorts this time. They've always been incredibly prompt at replying and handled everything for us, making sure the 2 Resorts were in touch to get us transfered half way through our trip. At one of the resorts I even bumped into Giulia and Delia who were out there surfing at the time. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll use awave again if I'm booking a surf trip

Donald Ayres 11/06/23

Indonesia Surf Trip/ Java/Bali/Sumba - James Colston was my representative from AWAVE - I’m an older solo surfer and James was attentive, respectful, extremely responsive from the initial planning stages all the way through the booking. And he was so patient with all my crazy questions along the way. I couldn’t have been more pleased with James’s level of service. Thank you James

Alex Daish 12/28/23

Giulia was an amazing person to book with. I was overwhelmed with choices initially, but AWAVE knew their stuff and helped me with my options and even suggested delaying my trip so I could go to a certain hotel which ended up being the best decision I made all year.

Mickey 01/24/24

Giulia and James were always on line to answer any question or to give an advice. The Ayada resort is perfect both for families or for couples. We did not have waves as the season goes from April to September, but there are plenty options to have fun and good times. Highly recommended both Awave and Ayada.

James 01/30/24

The AWAVE team are knowledgable and helpful. Giulia is a very helpful and patient person to deal with, and do not worry, you can trust her. I had to delay my trip to Morocco due to unforeseen circumstances and Giulia was very understanding. I have just returned from having a fantastic week at Amouage in Taghazout. Thanks AWAVE!

Omar AlJammaz 03/07/23

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