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Ultimate Guide to Choosing Surf Equipment for Beginners

Stepping into the world of surfing can be as thrilling as catching your first wave. But before hitting the beach, having the right gear is crucial! When starting out, having the right board and wetsuit can significantly enhance your surfing experience, meaning more time in the water and less time on the beach. This guide will navigate the essentials for beginners and what they are used for!

Surfing goes beyond just having a surfboard. It involves a variety of gear, from wetsuits to leash, each serving a unique purpose to help keep you safe, warm and surfing! We’ll break down what equipment is necessary to get started and what you might want as you advance. Knowing more about the tools of the trade not only boosts your confidence but also ensures you’re well-prepared for whatever waves come your way.

Join us as we explore the basics and beyond, helping you make informed choices about the surf equipment that’s right for you. Grab your surf gear, and let’s dive into making your surf sessions as epic and safe as possible!

Essential Surf Equipment for Beginners

Starting your surfing journey is exciting, but knowing what gear you need is the first step to ensuring a fun and safe experience. For beginners, the essential equipment includes a surfboard, wetsuit, leash, and surf wax. A beginner surfboard is typically a soft-top board, which is safer and offers better buoyancy, making it easier to balance and catch waves. These boards are forgiving during falls and are an excellent choice for those just learning the ropes.

With your first boards, volume is your friend. A classic mistake is jumping onto smaller boards too quickly. Larger boards with more volume allow you to build technique, whilst catching more waves. More waves = more fun!

A wetsuit helps maintain body temperature in colder waters, offering protection against hypothermia. It also serves as a protective layer from the sun and underwater irritants. The thickness of the wetsuit will depend on the water temperature where you surf. For those lucky enough to learn in tropical waters, this isn’t an issue. For those in colder waters, the following ranges give a good idea of wet suit thickness:

Tropical Water: 27 – 31°CLucky you! Board shorts, rash vest, or bikini

Warm Water: 21 – 27°C1/2mm wetsuit top or short sleeve 2mm Suit

Medium Water: 13 – 20°C3/2mm suit for most

Cold Water: 8 – 12°C4 or 5mm wetsuit, consider wearing boots and gloves

Very Cold Water: 8°C and below 6mm wetsuit with boots, gloves, and a hood

These are rough ranges and everyone is different, but having the right rubber will make your surf much more comfortable!

Additionally, a leash is vital; it tethers the surfboard to your ankle with a strong cord, preventing the board from getting lost in the ocean, or hitting others and making it easier to retrieve after a fall. Lastly, surf wax is applied to the top of the board to provide grip for your feet, which is essential for maintaining balance while riding the waves.

Advanced Gear for Improving Surfers

As you advance, you’ll find that you start to outgrow your larger boards. Experienced surfers will move to higher-performance surfboards made from epoxy or fibreglass. These boards come in all shapes and sizes, for all levels. These boards are less buoyant than soft tops and require better balance, technique, and control. For more information on the different types of boards, please see AWAVE Travel’s Surf Board Guide.

In addition to upgrading your surfboard, other advanced equipment includes a tail/traction pad, board shorts, rash guards, and earplugs:

Tail Pad: The pad attached to the back of the surfboard provides extra grip for your back foot, which is crucial for performing manoeuvres. 

Boardshorts/Rash Guard: Board shorts and rash guards are designed for comfort and protection during long surf sessions in warm water, helping to prevent rashes caused by rubbing against the board. 

Earplugs: Earplugs are especially useful for surfers who frequently spend time in cold water, as they help prevent exostosis or surfer’s ear by blocking cold water and wind from entering the ear canal.

How to Choose the Right Surfboard

Selecting the correct surfboard for your skill level and body type can make a significant difference in how you experience surfing. The process may seem overwhelming at first, but focusing on a few key aspects will help you choose wisely. Firstly, consider the length of the surfboard. Generally, a longer board, thicker board with more volume, offers more stability and is ideal for beginners, while shorter boards provide more manoeuvrability for more advanced surfers.

The width and thickness of the surfboard also impact its stability and how easy it is to paddle. Wider and thicker boards are better suited for beginners because they float better and provide a bigger surface area for balancing. Do not overlook the volume, which is essentially the buoyancy that the board provides; higher volume can support more weight, making it easier to catch waves.

AWAVE Travel recommends speaking with your local surf shop for advice. These shops are able to give you great advice on the best boards for your level and the waves that you surf!

Caring for Your Surf Equipment

Proper maintenance and care of your surf equipment not only extend its lifespan but also ensure optimal performance. Rinsing your wetsuit, and other gear with fresh water after each use to remove salt and sand that can degrade materials over time.

Store your equipment in a cool, shaded area away from direct sunlight to prevent damage. UV rays can weaken the fibreglass of surfboards and deteriorate the neoprene in wetsuits.

Additionally, make sure to check your leash regularly for any signs of wear and tear, replacing it as needed. Nothing is worse than a leash snapping and swimming in without your board! By following these care tips, your surf equipment will remain in top condition, ready for your next surf!

Surfing is not just a sport—it’s a lifestyle that connects us deeply with nature and builds profound joy and respect for the ocean. The right equipment plays a significant role in this experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, investing in proper gear and maintaining it well can hugely impact your performance and enjoyment. 

At AWAVE Travel, we understand the passion that drives surfers. We are committed to helping you achieve the best possible surfing experience with expert advice and high-quality services. For your next surfing journey, trust us to guide you to the best surf travel destinations and provide the support you need every step of the way.

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Customer Reviews

AWAVE Travel

Customer Reviews

Lissette De Boer 30/06/24

Giulia was incredibly helpful in booking our surf trip! Strongly recommend using AWAVE for any surf packages. We will definitely be contacting her again. Thank you!

Fabs Alegria 19/05/24

Trip of a lifetime. First and foremost I'd like to thank James Colston from Awave Travel, for assisting me in every which way to help book one of the most memorable experiences I've had in my life. He was extremely responsive and answered every single question I had, even the dumb ones haha. As for AYADA, holy dooly, that place is paradise! Absolutely breathtaking, I couldn't believe I was actually walking around such a beautiful island! Big love to the staff at Magu Restaurant, seeing as how I ate there pretty much everyday, they were amazing! Very switched on and quick off the mark to help with anything that was needed. A special mention to Dhaboa and the captain who took me out surfing! I cannot speak highly enough about their friendly, helpful and straight up on point expertise. With Dhaboa picking the spots to surf and tips on where to sit to catch the best waves on the day, to the wonderful captain himself, filming and sending me videos of the waves I caught.
Absolute legends! Made my surf trip! Best holiday I've ever been on to this date.

Carlos 30/06/24

Reliable travel agency to book a surf trip - Both Giulia and James were very reactive and adivsed on the best options. In our case we made a boat trip in Maldives. It is the second time we use Awave Travel to do a surftrip to Maldives and we have had a very good experience in both cases. They are a reliable and trustworthy travel agency, I highly recommend them.

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.