The OMBE Guide to the Best Longboard Surfboard
Longboards are ideal for learning how to surf and having some fun on the ocean. Learn all about them with the ultimate OMBE guide.
It’s true, surfing grants us an escape from life’s daily concerns and opens up the gates to a new realm of being. Yet, before being able to step into that new realm, we need to spend some more time with life’s daily concerns, such as shopping for a new surfboard.
Unfortunately, the world of surfboards isn’t all that cut off from life itself either. Life gets more and more complicated with the advance of technology, and so do the surfboard designs. So, even if you know with certainty that what you need is a longboard surfboard, you cannot go shopping without knowing its history, what to look for in one, and the best options currently on the market.
Without further ado, let’s give you a bit of history on longboards and then take you shopping with the picks of the OMBE crew.
A Brief History of Longboard Surfboards
Before the surfboard revolution of the 1960s, the only type of boards surfers had were the longboard surfboards. Some of these boards were even so big that you’d be justified if you mistook them for canoes. Were you to set sail on one, you could make great distances, too. However, the type of waves you could ride with a longboard surfboard were limited to small ones. Taking them out on huge waves required extreme skill and guile and, therefore, riding big waves or barrels was only a dream for most.
Then, the surfboard revolution happened. Thanks to technological advancement and innovative board-shapers, different types of surfboards were designed in accordance with the individual skills and needs of surfers. The shortboard rose to prominence during the 1960s and 1970s because it allowed surfers to enjoy themselves on bigger waves and in tubes.
Yet, it didn’t mean the longboard surfboard was completely forgotten. It was still the best surfboard shape for beginner surfers learning the fundamentals of surfing on small waves. Moreover, in recent years, board-shapers have figured out performance-oriented longboards as well. So, it’s quite understandable if you’re feeling a bit lost when looking for a longboard surfboard, given the current state of board shaping.
To preemptively alleviate any confusion you may have, we prepared a thorough list of the best longboard surfboards you can find on the market. Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first board or an advanced surfer in search of difference, you will surely find a board that appeals to you below.
5 Best Longboard Surfboards for Beginner Surfers
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If you’re a beginner surfer with their fair share of blog-surfing and surf lessons, you’re probably bored of people repeatedly advising you to pick the right board to kick off your surfing journey successfully. So, you might want to skip this part, run toward the ocean, and hide beneath a reef just not to hear it anymore. However, please bear with us as it’s a lesson worth reiterating: picking the right kind of surfboard is crucial to learning how to surf.
What’s the right surfboard for beginners? Well, we have a couple of criteria to judge the beginner-friendliness of surfboards:
- Comfort: Expecting people to learn something when they’re obviously uncomfortable would certainly be unrealistic and unjust. A board that makes you comfortable is important to learn how to paddle and how to achieve balance.
- Buoyancy: The time for you to learn how to generate speed by compression and decompression will surely come, but before that, you need your board to float without you doing much.
- Stability: The boards that tend to wobble are no use to a beginner as they’re not really ideal to learn how to balance yourself and assume the proper surfing stance. Stability is key to master basic aspects of surfing.
- The ability to catch waves: If it’s your first go, you cannot be expected to catch waves all by your ability. So, some of the wave-catching responsibility falls to your surfboard choice.
Despite the variety in the surfboard market, only one type of surfboard meets these criteria: the soft top longboard. That’s why soft tops are an indispensable element of the landscape (or should we say, oceanscape) in almost all the surf schools, camps, and resorts around the world.
Now, let’s see what our favorite soft top longboards for novice surfers are.
Wavestorm 8 FT Classic
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Before some experienced surfer comes along and grimaces at the ironic audacity of our recommendation, let us answer some basic questions. Is the Wavestorm Classic the best longboard surfboard you can find on the market? Not really, no. Is the Wavestorm Classic the best longboard for beginners? We honestly don’t think so. Is the Wavestorm Classic even the best soft top, for God’s sake? No, it’s not even possible to claim that wholeheartedly.
Yet, it’s still one of the most popular soft top longboards on the market. It blends into the shores of California and Florida as a chameleon blends into the foliage of a rainforest. Should these shores declare their sovereignty, it may as well be their national flag. And considering that these shores are where recreational surfers and beginners mix up, the acclaim of the Wavestorm starts making even more sense.
Why? Because it perfectly delivers on the promise of being a decent soft top surfboard and nothing more. It packs quite the volume, so you can be sure that it’s going to be buoyant and stable. Thanks to its soft foam deck, it’s quite comfortable when paddling, and it has lots of paddling power. Moreover, it catches waves as easily as a chameleon catches flies.
As a cherry on top, it’s one of the most affordable decent surfboards in the market (maybe only a bit more expensive than a chameleon, mind you, although we do not endorse the trade of wildlife in any form or shape). Given that it’s also considerably durable, you’ll get your money’s worth for years to come. Therefore, it emerges as the most logical option for beginners and recreational surfers alike, and nothing anybody says about it can contest that.
California Board Company Gerry Lopez 8' Soft Top Surfboard
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Remember the surfboard revolution we mentioned in the intro? Well, Gerry Lopez was a prominent figure during that revolution, first as an innovative designer of boards and then as the beneficiary of the innovations. His exploits were so much so that he conquered the Banzai Pipeline that remained unsurfable before the 1960s for more than once, and he rightfully earned his famous nickname—Mr. Pipeline.
That being said, if all that made it sound that the CBC soft top is strictly for the advanced surfers, let us tell you that it is not. It won’t allow you to magically surf the Pipeline at your first go either, though. On the contrary, it’s strictly a beginner board, but knowing who Gerry Lopez is means that you also know you can trust this board.
Gerry Lopez’s only contribution to it isn’t just a namesake either. He shaped the surfboard blank himself specifically to ease novice surfers into surfing. Unsurprisingly, he did a great job. It checks all the best beginner longboard criteria we established above. Moreover, its expanded polystyrene core, hard polyethylene bottom, and protective tail cap render it quite durable against dings, saltwater, and the toil of years.
Similar to the Wavestorm above, it’s one of the most affordable traditional longboards, too, and its retro and wooden aesthetic is—in all honesty—more appealing than the now exhausted look of the former. As it’s a relatively narrow and thin board, even experienced surfers can find it enjoyable on small waves and surprise themselves. All in all, it’s a worthy alternative to the Wavestorm and the best candidate to dethrone it.
Catch Surf Odysea Log X Jamie O'Brien Pro
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Our experience in surf coaching provided us with lots of opportunities to make sociological observations on the behavior of beginner surfers. One of these observations is that they mostly ignore the most reiterated advice on picking the right surfboard and either go for the board that has the most aesthetic appeal or act on the influence of a professional surfer they regard highly.
Well, the Odysea Log X Jamie O’Brien Pro is an exception to that rule. Hands down, it’s such an appealing board that even when you’re just surfing on the internet with no interest in real surfing, you might be tempted to paddle out once you come across the Log. Moreover, it has the name of a young pro who seems destined to become a legend. Like Gerry Lopez, he’s been the champion of the Pipe more than once and gave his name to a beginner board.
However, an aesthetic look and carrying Jamie’s name are not its only merits. It is, without a doubt, one of the best soft top surfboards for beginners. Even when the OMBE mentalist and presenter, Anthony Laye, suffered a neck injury and needed a reintroduction to surfing, it was there to remind him of the joy of surfing. So, you can be sure that it’s going to make your learning process a lot of fun while meeting all the beginner board requirements.
Moreover, unlike the Wavestorm and CBC Gerry Lopez above, the Log can function as a fun board for many intermediate and advanced surfers. Despite its size, its design also emphasizes maneuverability, which is more than you sign up for when it comes to soft top longboards. So, when the surf conditions are less than ideal for your advanced skills, you can paddle out on it and enjoy the day as you like.
South Bay Board 9'6" Tortuga Hybrid Surfboard
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South Bay is a company that deserves all the praise that goes their way. The diversity of their meticulous and intricate board designs is simply mouth-watering, and their catalog of longboard surfboards is a good example of that. Simply put, they have a board for every budget and each surfing stage, and all of them are worth recommending.
For example, the 8-foot Verve and Guppy are budget-friendly longboards that are ideal for children and teenagers to acquaint themselves with this wonderful sport of ours. The 9-foot Heritage Premium, on the other hand, is a perfect high-end option for adults who’ve taken an interest in surfing. They have a longboard for pros, too: the 9-foot Panda Log is one of the best high-performance longboards on the market.
However, our pick is the 9’6” Tortuga Hybrid, which comes into the longboarding scene as the best of both worlds. Yes, it’s a beginner board. It’s as big, comfortable, and buoyant as the mini-yacht of your wealthy neighbor, and it’s as stable as the mind of a Buddhist monk who meditates day and night. Yet, it can also perform to high standards, should an advanced surfer decide to do some nose-riding in knee-high wave conditions.
The narrow tail makes it easier to lift and turn once on the lip of the wave. Moreover, unlike most beginner boards that are more suitable for flat surfing, its fastidiously designed hand-tapered rails will allow you more freedom and flexibility on rail.
In short, whether you’re a beginner looking for a board you can also use in further stages of your surfing journey, or you’re an advanced surfer who wants to improve in longboard surfing, you’ll find that the Tortuga Hybrid absolutely lives up to its monetary valuation.
Wave Bandit 8' Easy Rider X Ben Gravy Surfboard
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The Wave Bandit Easy Rider is an interesting board, and being an all-rounder, you can’t quite point to a single thing that makes it so. Or can you? First of all, there’s a fair number of pineapples that wear sunglasses on its bottom deck. That way, you can distract an innocent school of fish and cause them to seek refuge in haste, ward off sharks and alligators in confusion, and have mermaids and mermen grow an unbearable desire to meet the rider of this very interesting board. So far, so good.
In addition, and in all seriousness, it’s also interesting because what type of board it actually is can be discussed ad nauseam. Is it a mini malibu better suited for Californian shores, and should you celebrate a good session on it with a sweet cocktail? Is it a fun board that you should pack for every surf trip, requiring you to down that shot of mezcal after a session? Or is it just another traditional longboard, and just a pint of beer should suffice?
Well, no matter how these questions are answered, we know one thing: the Wave Bandit Easy Rider is fun as hell to ride, and catching waves doesn’t get any easier than when you do it with it. It also floats quite gracefully on a straight line, so if you aspire to look like a Roman emperor who leads their chariot to war on your surfboard, your dreams will surely be achieved. Be warned, though, that even paddling is quite enjoyable with the Easy Rider, so there might be days you might not want to surf at all.
All in all, the Wave Bandit Easy Rider is everything its name promises. It’s definitely a bandit when it comes to catching waves, and riding it is probably easier than sitting in a self-driving Tesla and anxiously waiting to crash into an unregistered building or an alien spaceship.
5 Best Longboard Surfboards for Intermediate, Advanced, and Pro Surfers
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During the heat of riding big waves, exploring what goes inside tubes, and the flurry of inventing new airs, certain aspects of traditional longboarding might have been lost. However, human beings will always have a tendency for nostalgia, so everything that’s thought to have been lost may unexpectedly return someday (including zombies).
That’s at least what happened in surfing. Longboarding came back, and people realized that there’s more to it than meets the eye. As a result, the surfboard industry had to reshuffle to meet the demands of non-beginners to have high-performance longboards that would allow them to enjoy their sessions when the wave conditions are not ideal for shortboards and display advanced skills such as nose riding and delaying turns.
Obviously, the criteria for the best high-performance longboard drastically differs from that of a beginner-friendly one:
- They need to have more maneuverability for both the timing and accuracy of turns;
- They need to have more rocker so that they can fit into bigger and steeper waves;
- They need to have more emphasis on the rails since they are what determines your style.
Now, let’s see which longboards currently on the market will give you the most joy.
Creative Army Five Sugars PU Longboard Surfboard
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Creative Army is a company founded by a fellow Australian surfer, Josh Constable, who comes from a family of surfers and has grown up amongst many other surfers. To this date, he has won a staggering number of 51 titles, mostly thanks to his longboarding abilities. So, you can surely rely upon his idea of what a high-performance longboard should do, and his catalog of longboards perfectly supports our claim.
There are all kinds of temptations in that catalog. For example, the deck art of the Jive, which looks like it was stolen from an abstract art exhibition, is quite irresistible. The feather-like Barber will surely satiate your thirst for nose-riding. The seductive shade of red seen on the Sweet Love will beguile you on head-high waves.
Yet, our pick is the Five Sugars PU Longboard Surfboard simply because it’s the most versatile option of the bunch. It features a modern rocker design that’ll provide you with the smoothest of turns and a rounded tail that eases rail transition. If you’re looking for some display of fast trimming and balletic nose-riding, you need to look no further either. Even when you want to enjoy some knee-high waves when Poseidon decides to go on skiing in Switzerland, you won’t find a better board than the Five Sugars PU.
In short, if you’re in the market for an all-rounder longboard surfboard, the Five Sugars PU is the one you’re looking for. Be wary, though—all that performance and versatility do certainly come with a high price tag.
Paragon 9' Retro Noserider Longboard Surfboard
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Although Paragon is quite famous for producing this retro-looking surfboard, they are not exactly a surfboard company that got stuck in the past. On the contrary, they are now one of the leading innovators when it comes to surfing technology, and it would be fair to say that they took the process of digital shaping to another level. Thanks to their acclaimed digital system, they’re able to produce many high-quality surfboards with utmost precision.
The Retro Noserider can be seen as the greatest testament to their accomplishments. We certainly don’t know if they nailed that great retro look with the help of their digital aids, but we can assure you that it’s everything a longboarder is looking for, at least in terms of performance.
What sets it apart from the other options in our list is that it perfectly combines light weight with buoyancy. Normally, a board with more volume tends to be the more buoyant one, and that volume is generally achieved with extra thickness and width. That’s not the case with the Retro Noserider, as Paragon employs their own unique ParaLite Epoxy instead of traditional epoxy. As a result, their boards have more float, more durability, and consequently, less hassle overall.
All that technicality aside, it’s also suitable for beginner and advanced surfers alike. It makes paddling and wave-catching easier, but ultimately, it’s designed as a noserider for the intermediate and the advanced.
You’re afraid that all these qualities will come with a high price tag? Well, you don’t need to be. Compared to other high-performance longboards, it’s quite affordable, and we have the technological innovation to thank for that. (No, Elon, you don’t need to say that we’re welcome! We aren’t talking about you!)
Degree 33 8' Ultimate Longboard Surfboard
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The Paragon Retro Noserider above is a perfect example of how digital innovation can contribute to surfboard-shaping. The Degree 33 Ultimate Longboard Surfboard is the exact opposite. It reminds us that hand-shaping still holds value and can result in amazing boards if conducted with knowledge, care, and passion.
The company itself might surprisingly have something in common with your favorite bedroom pop act of the decade as well: they started to make their custom-shaped boards in a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego, California, in 2006. Back in those days, they were selling what they shaped through Craigslist. Now, after less than two decades, they are one of the most prestigious board makers in the surfing world.
Considering how they started, their claim to make the ultimate longboard surfboard might sound a tad bit too ambitious. After all, we’re not talking about building a starship with the riches your ancestors had acquired by exploiting the underprivileged and abusing colonized lands. Yet, it’s possible to say that Degree 33 achieved their mission objective.
The Ultimate has an eco-friendly top deck that doesn’t require waxing but will still grip you like a koala clinging to its favorite eucalyptus tree. Moreover, it features fully tapered rail designs maximized for turns and a slight nose rocker that you’ll benefit from immensely on head-high waves. On top of these notes of high performance, it’s still buoyant and comfortable enough to accommodate beginners as well.
The Ultimate might seem like an expensive board at first look, but for us, all the labor and thought that go into its making are worth what you have to pay.
NSP Elements HDT Longboard Surfboard
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NSP is a company that focuses on all kinds of watersports, but it was initially conceived by a Maui-based surfer and skater, Bruce “Buzz” Hansen. His motivation to found NSP was to make an affordable surfboard that could perform well in Hawaiian surf conditions.
If you know a thing or two about surfing in Hawaii, you know that, more often than not, it’s a strictly advanced surf hub with huge waves that break on dangerous reefs and wonderful tubes everywhere that make the subway lines of Tokyo look humble. So, when a company with the objective like that of NSP produces a longboard for such surf conditions, you can be pretty sure that it’s a high-performance longboard that can perform well on a variety of waves.
And if you’re looking for such a board, the NSP Elements HDT won’t disappoint you. That aside, it’ll be there for you even if it suffers innumerable dings on reefs since it’s sturdy enough with its EPS SecureCell core and wide fiberglass stringers.
Furthermore, it’s capable of almost everything a longboard can be expected to perform. It features sharper rails around the tail, a rocker designed with optimizing performance in mind, and a V-shaped bottom with a double concave that’ll add style to your surfing. These characteristics will prove their worth when you’re trying to prove yourself with sharp bottom turns, trims, or drop-knee cutbacks. It’ll allow you to do some noseriding, too.
We daresay that only a Third World War can ruin your day when you can achieve all these Hawaii-level high-end features with reasonable affordability. Be careful when making a purchase, though, as the 10-foot version of the Elements has a single fin setup, whereas all the others employ a 2+1 one.
JJF by Pyzel: The Log
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When talking about the Odysea Log a couple of sections above, we briefly mentioned Jamie O’Brien and his exploits on the Banzai Pipeline. We also included the CBC Soft Top Longboard in our list, which was shaped by Gerry Lopez, a.k.a. Mr. Pipeline, who needs no further introduction.
For our last entry, another local of the North Shore, Hawaii, John John Florence takes the stage to bewilder us more by the high number of Pipeline Masters who help shape longboards. This time, the winner of many titles is accompanied by an award-winning board-shaper, Jon Pyzel, and together they developed a special design called Funformance, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Of course, calling the design Funformance and the number of surfboards called the Log is a bit alarming for the creative impression the surfing world makes, but at least you know what you’re getting. The Log that has 7-, 8-, and 9-foot options provides a perfect blend of fun and performance. On good days, it’ll perform to very high standards and help you progress, and it’ll be a great addition to your quiver for substandard surf conditions since it’ll allow you to have fun.
Although it has a foam deck, its recycled EPS core, epoxy/fiberglass construction, wooden stringer, and fin boxes are quite durable against dings and many forms of abrasion. And it had to be so since it’s made on the North Shore, and the reefs of the North Shore aren't particularly merciful on fragile boards.
Moreover, since it was mostly made of recycled material, it’s quite affordable when compared to other high performance longboards. On top of that, should you purchase the Log, you’ll help preserve the oceanside we hold so dear.
Picking the right surfboard is not only crucial when you’re only a beginner. Of course, starting off on a board that’s most suitable for your needs and skills will benefit you immensely, but you should also try the boards that might fall under scrutiny, as they’ll affect how well and how quickly you progress towards the latter stages of surfing.
Yet, once you pick the right surfboard, you shouldn’t think that your job is done. Except for your body and mind, your surfboard is your only piece of equipment. So, you need to have a mastery over it, just like you need to over your body and mind. You need to know how it’s going to react when you move in a certain way, you need to interpret the feedback it’s giving you, and you need to develop an intrinsic understanding of it. After all, a surfboard is how you relate to the waves, and without knowing your surfboard, you cannot know the waves.
To these ends, we have a couple of programs and guides. For example, our Get the Right Board program will help you with your picks by introducing you to both the basic and complex parts of the process, and our Surf Science program will endow you with the knowledge of how your board should and shouldn’t relate to waves by giving you a pretty good idea about the ocean.
In addition, we have a guide on the importance of knowing your board that might drastically alter how you approach surfing. And our guides on different surfboard shapes, how to make your own boards, fun boards, asymmetrical boards, swallowtails, soft tops, and best beginner boards will surely be fruitful for you in your quest to improve your understanding of surfboard design and technology.