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Surfboard vs. Paddle Board: Which Is Right for You?

The water is one of the best places to be. You can feel the flow gently taking you down the river or the ocean waves lapping against your board. The shore is right there, but you aren’t in a rush to be back on dry land—you could spend all day out there. When you want to experience everything the water has to offer, the choice comes down to two boards: a surfboard or a stand up paddle board (SUP). While both offer perks, one might be better suited for your needs and experience over the other.

Surfing has been an integral part of oceanside cultures for centuries, while SUPs have exploded in popularity recently. They both offer you the opportunity to soak in the sun while enjoying the water, but with two different styles. So which is best for you? To help you decide, ask yourself these questions and use the answers to choose between a surfboard and a SUP.

What Kind of Experience Do You Want?

To start, you need to figure out what experience you want while on the water. While a paddle board is a great total body workout, you can’t ride extreme waves like you can while surfing. On the other hand, surfboards don’t offer the same ability to relax and balance as SUPs. So what kind of experience do you want?

A Relaxing Cruise

Sometimes, you just want to embark on a slow-going journey where you can relax and reconnect with nature. You want to explore, but don’t expect to be riding on too much rough water. Maybe you want to bring a book or a beverage while you soak in the sun or enjoy the quiet flow of water around you. While some surfboards are suitable for this experience, namely longboards, a paddle board is the better choice. You can get a solid or inflatable SUP and quickly learn the ins and outs for a relaxing cruise on the water.

Ride the Waves

What if you want to catch some serious waves and feel the electric spark of adrenaline running through you? While planing hull paddle boards can be taken through whitewater activities, surfing is generally the more fast-paced option. A surfboard can get you out on the water and help you find adventure all in one package. Surfing might take more practice than paddle boarding, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy every second. Surfing should be your choice for a more energetic experience.

Where Will You Take Your Surfboard or Paddle Board?

The location of your water activities can be an essential factor in deciding between a SUP and a surfboard. You don’t have to live on the west coast to enjoy water activities, but a lake doesn’t offer as many waves to ride as the ocean does. While you may have a whitewater park nearby that offers artificial waves, you should consider your main water bodies when deciding what kind of board to get.

Lakes and Rivers

Lakes and slow-moving rivers are the perfect settings for a SUP experience. You can float on the calm water or paddle around and explore for a more active experience. You can even float in the middle of a lake and get some yoga time in. The calm nature of these bodies of water makes them great places to learn how to paddle board. So beginners and veterans alike can enjoy everything lakes and rivers have to offer.

The Ocean

If you live near the coast, you might have the best of both worlds. The ocean offers excellent options for both surfboards and SUPs. Surfing has been an integral part of coastal life for many water sports enthusiasts. They’ll wake up early and dive straight into the cold water to catch the perfect waves if they have to. You can hit the waves on many styles of surfboards, from longboards for beginners to shortboards for more experienced surfers. If you want a paddle board experience, you can still get that with the ocean. You can take your SUP through light surf or explore inlets and calmer water.

How Often Are You Going Out on the Water?

You should consider how much of your time is spent on trips to the beach or waterfront. For some people, the water is a 5-minute walk away, and they can spend every morning in the surf. For others, it is a 2-hour drive to the nearest lake. While both of these still lead to fun days on the water, it might affect your decision between a SUP and a surfboard.

If You Practically Live on the Water

If you spend every morning and evening on the water, you probably have the storage space and time dedicated to water sports. Investing in a solid paddle board or taking the time to learn how to surf are both realistic options. Surfing takes a lot of practice to get comfortable and confident on the board. If you only surf once or twice a month, it might take longer to find your footing. If you are constantly on the water, you probably have a dedicated spot for storing surfboards and paddle boards. A 10-foot SUP might be hard to store if you are only using it a few times a year. But if you are using it almost daily, you will be ready and willing to dedicate space to it.

If You Take Occasional Trips

Whether you spend the weekends on the water or only break out your paddle board for summer, you might not have a ton of space to store your board. If you are only occasionally on the water, an inflatable SUP might be the perfect solution for you. These space-saving boards can be inflated when you want to use them and deflated afterward for easier transportation and storage. Paddle boards are also easier to get the hang of and an excellent choice for casual excursions to lakes or rivers.

About Boardworks

Whether you want to experience the thrill of riding the waves or spend a chill day out on the water, Boardworks has the boards you need. Since the early 90s, they have become one of the leading brands in the stand up paddle (SUP) and surfboard communities. They take pride in helping more people, from beginners to experienced surfers, get on the water. With over 25 years of experience, they are dedicated to delivering high-quality SUP and surf products for recreation, touring, or adventure. Boardworks carries a wide range of boards. From an inflatable SUP to Froth foam-covered surfboards, there is something for everyone. For oceans, lakes, rivers, and all the waterways in between, choose Boardworks.

Explore the Boardworks selection of paddle boards and surfboards at

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