Choosing surf, body & stand-up paddle boards

Being in the water on a board is good for the soul. It's a great way to get away from it all and unwind, and you can have hours of free fun in the sun! With your own boogieboard, surfboard or stand-up paddle board you're always ready for action, and board riding is a great way to keep yourself and the kids active. Whether you prefer the beach, lakes, rivers or canals, when you've got a board you'll never be bored!

What's the best stand-up paddle board, surfboard and bodyboard?

Everyone's different, and like many things in life, what's best for one person might not be best for the next. The best board for you depends on:

  • Who'll be using the board (kids or adults, and how tall, heavy, fit and experienced are they?)
  • Where you'll be using the board (stand-up paddle boarding in the surf or still waters?)
  • Whether you can carry it and take it in the car (is it heavy and do you have/need roof racks?)
  • How quick and easy you want using the board to be (immediately or with some practice?)
  • How often you'll be using the board and for how long (rarely or for hours every weekend?)
  • How long you want it to last (for a few summer days or years of beach days and camping?)

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Which board should you buy?

Working out which board to buy is easier when you break it down in into these five steps:

1. Types

First, decide which type of board you want:


A bodyboard is:

  • Also known as a boogieboard (a bodyboard brand).
  • Easy for everyone to ride waves on straight away.
  • A lot less tiring and safer to use than a surfboard.
  • Shorter and wider than a surfboard, so more stable.
  • Ridden lying down (prone) or on one knee (drop-knee).

When comparing bodyboards look at the:

  • Surface grip - a better grip makes it harder to slip off.
  • Tail shape - a bat tail gives you more speed but is harder to control.
  • The sides - straight sides are faster than rounded, but harder to control.
  • Stringer rod - keeps the board stiff so it lasts longer.
  • Channels - grooves on the underside give you more control.
  • Leash connection - essential if you'll be using it to ride waves at the beach.

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How To Choose A Board - Bodyboard

Stand-Up Paddle boards

A stand-up paddle board is:

  • Used to stand up on while pushing forward with a paddle.
  • Great for building up your core strength (and losing ab flab!)
  • A board you can use to ride small waves, or on flat water.
  • A fun and relaxing way to stay active and get back to nature.

When comparing stand-up paddle boards look at the:

  • Surface grip - a better grip makes it harder to slip off.
  • Underside shape - a curved bottom is less stable but easier to control.
  • Tail shape - a wider, rounder tail is more stable but harder to control.
  • Nose shape - curved is best for surf waves - narrow for flat water and racing.
  • Leash connection - essential if you'll be using it to ride waves at the beach.
  • Carry handles - boards with handles are easier to get in and out of the water.
  • Fins - more fins give you more control, and if they're tough they'll last longer.

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How To Choose A Board - Stand Up Paddle Board


A surfboard is:

  • Trickier to use than a bodyboard or stand-up paddleboard.
  • Best for those prepared to commit to a fair bit of practice.
  • Used to paddle out into the waves while laying face down.
  • Turned to face the shore at the point the waves start to rise.
  • Quickly paddled on while laying down to match the wave's speed.
  • Pushed against with your arms to stand up fast and ride waves in.

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A skimboard is:

  • Basically a miniature surfboard.
  • Used ride tiny waves that break right onto the sand on the shoreline.
  • Held while you run on the sand then jumped on into the wave.
  • Best for those prepared to commit to a fair bit of practice.
  • Usually used by those who are already experienced surfers.


A kneeboard is:

  • Pulled behind a jet ski or boat while you kneel.
  • Easy for everyone to have fun on straight away.
How To Choose A Board - Surfboard

2. Size

The size of the board needs to be right for your height, weight and experience. You'll also need to be able to carry it (try at your nearest Anaconda store) and get it in the car (or have roof racks).


Bodyboards are the smallest type of board so it's easy to throw a few in the boot for beach fun.

The board needs to be the right size so it stays afloat and is easy to control.

To choose the right size bodyboard:

  • Stand a few boards up on one end and hold them beside you.
  • The board that's close to being in line with your bellybutton is the right size.
  • If it's for a child:
    • Get a board that's a bit higher than their bellybutton (so there's room to grow).
    • Make sure they're strong enough and have long enough arms to carry it.

Choose the bodyboard shape that suits the rider's level of experience:

  • For kids and beginners:
    • A wide nose creates more stability on the board than a narrow nose.
    • A crescent-shaped tail is easier to control than a bat-wing tail.
    • A board that bends upwards at one or both ends (so has a rocker) is more stable, slower and easier to control.
  • For experienced riders:
    • A narrow nose is easier to control than a wide nose (but less stable).
    • A board with a bat-wing-shaped tail is faster and better for doing tricks.
    • A flat board (with no rocker) is faster (but less stable and harder to control).

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Stand-Up Paddle Boards

Stand-Up Paddle Boards (SUPs) can be used in:

  • Still water (flat beaches, rivers, lakes etc.)
  • Small surf (to ride little waves with a paddle)

To choose the right size, the length needs to suit your size, experience and how you'll use it:

  • If you're small and light you'll need a small board - a big board if you're tall and heavy.
  • If you're a beginner, a bigger board gives you more stability and is easier to balance on.
  • Long SUPs are more stable and easier to balance on, so they're best for beginners.
  • A SUP with a pointy nose cuts through the water better than one with a round nose.
  • Short boards with a narrow nose and/or tail and a rocker (curve) are more sensitive so they're best for experienced riders and surf competitions.
  • A board that's not too long or wide is a good all-rounder for flat water and small waves.
  • A light, narrow, 12ft6in-14ft board with a pointy nose is fast (but less stable) for racing.
  • Experienced boarders will care more about the board shape, weight and fins.
  • If you want to fit more than one person on a SUP you'll need a bigger board.

Some SUPs come with a paddle included, but others don't so you may need to buy one separately. When it comes to choosing the right paddle size:

  • A small, light paddle is easier to move through the water so better for beginners.
  • A heavy paddle is harder to move through water but gives experienced riders more power.
  • If you're shorter you'll need a shorter paddle, if you're tall you'll need a taller paddle.
  • If you're using your SUP to surf waves, a shorter paddle will be better.
  • An adjustable paddle can be lengthened in still water, shortened in waves, and shared.
  • To get a feel for the best size paddle for you, try a few at your nearest Anaconda store.

Most SUPs are 2.4 metres-14.2 metres (8-14 feet), so you'll need roof racks.

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Your surfboard needs to suit your size (height and weight) and level of experience.

Long, wide surfboards are easy to paddle and very stable in the water, but harder to control.

The fins on the bottom give you stability when changing direction, and can be swapped:

  • Bigger fins give you more stability (but less control, so it's harder to do tricks).
  • Smaller finds give you more control (so you can do tricks but have less stability).

To choose the right size surfboard:

  • If you're a beginner, a bigger board gives you more stability and helps you float better.
  • If you're small and light you'll need a small board - a big board if you're tall and heavy.
  • Experienced surfers will care more about the shape, weight, fins and rails for tricks.
  • The volume in litres also matters:
    • High-volume boards are more stable so easier to surf on and better for beginners.
    • Low-volume boards are more sensitive so best for experienced surfers and tricks.
    • Try using a few different boards (hire or borrow from a friend) to find the size you like.

As you get better you may want to:

  • Upgrade your board to suit your level of ability.
  • Have a few boards for different surf conditions.

Most surfboards are 150-300 cm long and 45-65 cm wide, so check whether you can fit the board you want in the car, or if you'll need to put it on roof racks.

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3. Materials


Bodyboards are made from plastic of varying quality:

  • A cheap, lightweight plastic foam (perfect for younger kids and beginners).
  • A high-quality foam core with a hard plastic bottom (or slick) and soft foam sides (rails) that's faster and easier to control so bests for bigger waves and doing tricks.
  • Some have 1-3 graphite or carbon rods (stringers) so the board's strong, won't fold and springs back into shape after bending in the surf.

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Stand-Up Paddle Boards

When you look at what SUPs are made from:

  • Most SUPs are made from glass-reinforced plastic with a polyester or epoxy resin, with a polyurethane or expanded polystyrene foam core.
  • Epoxy SUPs are strong, stable and good for beginners (but harder to control in the surf).
  • Some SUPs have a hollow wood construction instead of foam with epoxy resin.
  • Some are inflatable so they fit in the car, are easy to carry and take up less space (they feel solid once fully inflated but are a little less stable than a solid SUP).
  • Soft, composite foam SUPs hurts less if it they hit you so these suit kids and beginners.
  • Fibreglass or carbon fibre boards are the lightest and fastest so the best for racing.

If the SUP you want doesn't include a paddle and you're comparing different paddles:

  • Carbon fibre is light and strong so you can push yourself through the water easily.
  • Glass fibre is often more affordable, but can be weaker in the water.
  • Aluminium is tougher so more durable (but heavier and harder to move through water).
  • To choose the most comfortable paddle, try a few at your nearest Anaconda store.

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Modern surfboards are made from a lightweight, buoyant core covered with a hard shell. They're usually:

  • Made with a polyurethane or polystyrene foam core.
  • Covered with layers of fibreglass cloth, and polyester or epoxy resin.
  • Light, strong, buoyant and manoeuvrable.

Some of the latest surfboards are now made from carbon fibre and Kevlar.

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How To Choose A Board

4. Other Essentials

You may want to think about getting a few other things to make your board riding more fun, comfortable, easier and safer.

You may want to get:

  • A leash - to attach the board to your ankle, wrist or upper arm so you don't lose it and for safety (some come with a leash, others don't so need to be bought separately).
  • Wax - so you can rub it on the top of your board to give you more grip (scrape it off after each use, clean your board with fresh water and put on new wax next time).
  • Fins - bodyboards don't have fins like surfboards for stability, control and doing tricks. You may want to get a pair of fins (or flippers) so:
    • You can steer your board with your feet.
    • Paddling out into the waves is easier.
  • A wetsuit/rash vest - to protect you from the sun's harsh UV rays and keep you warm.
  • A hat and sunglasses - to protect your face from sun damage and for comfort.
  • A bag - that's padded to protect your board and so you can take it travelling.
  • Gloves - so your hands are protected from the sun and you don't get blisters.
  • Boots - to protect your feet from shells and sharp coral that can cause nasty infections.
  • A GoPro mount - to attach a waterproof camera to your board and capture everything.
  • A floating wallet - to keep all your phone and money in so they don't get lost or stolen.
  • Repair kit - for fixing minor board issues when you're at the beach or on holidays.
  • Roof racks - to put surfboards and SUPs on the roof (if they're too big for the boot).
  • For SUPs:
    • Guards for the nose and/or tail to protect your board from dings.
    • A pad you can put on the back of the board for more grip in the surf.

If you're a beginner, try and go out a few times with just the basics to work out what you need.

How To Choose A Board

5. Quality

When you're weighing up which board to buy, think about quality versus cost:

  • Plastic foam bodyboards are the cheapest but they won't last as long as boards with a foam core, hard plastic bottom and stringers.
  • Inflatable SUPs are easier to carry and store, but like all inflatables, they can get punctures and suffer from sun damage so they may not last as long as a solid board.
  • An adjustable SUP paddle can be adapted for different conditions and people, but usually isn't as long-lasting as a solid paddle.

When it comes to how much you should spend:

  • If you just want a board the kids can try, a cheap one should do the trick.
  • Cheaper boards tend to be less durable, so you get what you pay for.
  • If you'll be using it a lot and want years of use, it's worth spending a bit more on a good-quality board.
  • Whatever you spend on a board will help you save on board hire in the future!
How To Choose A Board

How much are stand-up paddle boards, surfboards and bodyboards?

Anaconda has:

When you go to the Water Sports section on the Anaconda website , you can choose to browse Paddle Boards, Paddles, or Beach & Surf (to see surfboards and bodyboards).

Then you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. You can use to make working out which board to buy easier and faster because you can filter by their:

  • Price - so you only see boards that are within your budget on the page.
  • Deal - so you only see all the boards that are on sale or at clearance prices.
  • Categories - so only surfboards or bodyboards are shown.
  • Size - so you can see boards that will suit your height.
  • Brand - so you can just look at a specific brand of board.

Other Beach & Surf Essentials

Check out Anaconda's range of Beach & Surf products available online or visit your local store.

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