A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Soft Top Surfboard

A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Soft Top Surfboard

Expert surfers will confirm that surfing can be incredibly therapeutic, thrilling, and rejuvenating - all at once. But, to make the most of your surfing experience and to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, you need the best surfboard out there that perfectly aligns with your skillset and requirements. 

Needless to say, zeroing in on one can be a massive challenge. A soft top surfboard is a great choice for beginners and professionals alike. However, given how many shapes, sizes, and forms it is available in, choosing the right soft top surfboard requires in-depth research as well.

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about a soft top surfboard and how you can select the right one for yourself and your family. So, let’s dive right in: 


What is a Soft Top Surfboard? 

Also commonly known as a foam surfboard, a soft deck board, as the name suggests, has a soft foam deck. While harder surfboards have tops made with polyester or epoxy resin, soft top surfboards have a foam core wrapped in either fiberglass or a synthetic wrap. Some boards even have a thin sheet of ethylene-vinyl acetate that adds to the smoothness. The top of these boards usually feels like that of yoga mats, the insides of foam sneakers, and kick boards. As you might be able to guess, soft top boards are lighter than most other boards and are also known to float better given the materials used in their making.


Why Do You Need a Soft Top Surfboard? 

If you are unsure about whether investing in a soft board is really worth your money, here are some of the reasons they make for a reliable choice: 


Soft top surfboards are incredibly safe 

Since they are made with foam tops, these boards are safer than any other type, making them the go-to boards for beginners. If you lose your balance and fall, you are way less likely to hurt yourself by colliding with a soft top surfboard than with a hard one. Given the lower chances of injury, these boards are ideal for occasional surfers or those who aren’t completely confident with their skills yet. 


They are durable and last longer than other surfboards

The foam material has remarkable cushioning properties that makes soft top surfboards extremely durable and stable. Even if you end up hitting a high tide, you are unlikely to crack your soft board (which is a very common scenario with hard ones). So, if you are a casual surfer looking for a board that will stand the test of time, a soft top one is your best bet.


Soft top surfboards have high buoyancy 

Soft tops surfboards have a higher volume and buoyancy than any other boards available, thus making it easier for surfers to balance on top of them, paddle, and catch a wave. The foamy material adds to the additional volume that makes it float better, while ensuring that the board is lightweight and easy to manage. 


Soft Surfboards are inexpensive 

Soft tops or foam boards are generally inexpensive compared to other more high performance ones with better maneuverability. Available for as low as USD 200, soft top surfboards are an excellent choice that delivers promising ROI for its features. 


Soft top surfboards are idea for beginners

Rightfully known as “gateway boards”, soft deck surfboards are perfect for beginners given the materials they are made from, their dimensions, and their cost. So, if you are a beginner yourself or are looking for a board for someone looking to start their surfing journey, soft top boards are a great choice that you won’t regret investing in. 


Types of Soft Top Surfboards

Even when it comes to soft tops, there are multiple makes and sizes available to choose from that might end up confusing you. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common ones and what makes them a good choice: 



image of soft top beater surfboard

Slightly longer than boogie boards, these soft top surfboards are super short and are built for steep and hollow waves. Beaters may or may not have fins and can be used as surfboards or bodyboards. Even though these boards are small, they are thick and have a high volume, making them extremely versatile. Given their high buoyancy, these are easy to paddle and can be used by beginners and because of their compact size, they are high performance and are also loved by advanced surfers. 



Ideal for medium height, moderately steep, and faster waves, soft top fish surfboards are a great choice for surfers looking for a high performance board that will not disappoint. Apart from increased volume and buoyancy that comes with all soft deck boards, the split tail of fishboards give them high maneuverability, making them easy to turn and transition smoothly. 

Image of a soft top fish board

Soft top longboard 

Typically 8 feet and longer, longboards are the lengthiest of all surfboards available. Soft top longboards bring the best of both worlds as they have a foamy deck, are thick, wide, stable and easy to balance on, and make for a great starter board. These are not the best for faster and sharper waves, but ideal for shorter and calmer ones. 

Image of soft top longboard

Soft top shortboard 

Soft top shortboards combine the high buoyancy and volume of soft boards with the high maneuverability and unbeatable performance of shortboards into one. These are ideal for expert or advanced surfers looking for a safer choice that doesn’t hinder the fun and thrill they seek from riding faster waves. 

Image of soft top shortboard


Resembling the shape of an egg, these surfboards are somewhere in between shortboards and longboards. These are thick, wide, and have a large surface area - akin to that of longboards. They are also extremely buoyant and float really well, making them ideal for beginners who are looking to catch comparatively smaller waves. In terms of performance, they have better maneuverability than longboards, given their rounded nose and tail. 

Image of egg surfboard

Mini malibu 

Ideal for learning and leveling up, a mini malibu soft deck is a well-rounded board that appears similar to a longboard. These boards are stable that make them easy to paddle and also high performance that make them fun to rise. Mini mals can be ridden just like longboards, which makes them ideal for beginners and a wide variety of waves. 

Image of a mini malibu surfboard

How to Select a Soft Top surfboard for Yourself 

Zeroing in on the best soft top board for yourself can be overwhelming, given the abundance of choice. Here are some of the key criteria that can help you make the right decision: 


Surfer’s skills

As a beginner surfer, it’s a no-brainer that you need to chase stability and safety over performance. So, soft top longboards should be your go-to choice if you are just starting out with your surfing lessons. On the other hand, as an experienced surfer looking to catch powerful and faster waves, it’s advisable to choose a shortboard or beater for quick maneuverability, so you can practice turns, transitions, and tricks. If you are more of an intermediate surfer, an egg soft top board or mini mal would be a great choice as they allow just enough maneuverability to help you level up, progress, and improve your technique.  

Type of waves 

The type of waves you are planning to ride will also determine the right type of surfboard that you must invest in. Here’s how you can shortlist: 


Fat and mellow waves

These are ideal for beginners as thick, mellow, and slower-paced waves are easier to catch. Stable, sturdy, and buoyant soft top longboards are great to be riding these types of waves. 


Sharp, powerful, and steep waves

Soft deck shortboards are ideal for riding sharp, steep, and powerful waves as they can easily handle quick turns and transitions with enhanced maneuverability. If you are a seasoned surfer and are confident about your fitness level, a shortboard will be the right choice for a thrilling and enjoyable experience riding such waves. 


Massive and thick waves

If you plan on riding massive waves, you need a board with a long and pointed design that enables you to catch waves that high while maintaining your balance and increasing your speed. 


Surfboard features 

If you are looking for a highly durable and long lasting soft surfboard, go for one that has a fiberglass & epoxy reinforced core. On the other hand, if you prioritize comfort, user-friendliness, and performance, a board with a soft IXPE foam and soft fins is recommended. Similarly, if you need a board that you don’t have to run behind at the shore, opt for one with a leash. 


Have an Unforgettable Surfing Experience with a Soft Top Surfboard 

By following the above guide to selecting the ideal soft deck surfboard, you are all set to have the most unforgettable surfing experience that will help you enjoy and also level up. At Good Wave Co, we are constantly working towards encouraging more and more families to explore surfing as a passion. 

No matter which surfboard you choose, Good Wave has one for every preference and need. We offer product warranty, subsidized shipping, and a 30-day any reason returns policy with each purchase. 

For any questions regarding our products or which surfboard is right for you, please feel free to reach out to our team of experts who would be more than happy to guide you in the right direction so you can make the most of your time riding waves. 

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