Surfing vs Bodyboarding: Which Wave Riding Style is Right for You?

If you’ve ever spent time at the beach, you’ve likely seen people surfing and bodyboarding. These two wave riding styles are both popular water sports that offer a unique and exhilarating way to enjoy the ocean. But if you’re new to these activities, you might be wondering: what’s the difference between surfing and bodyboarding? And which one is right for me?

In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between surfing and bodyboarding, from the equipment you need to the techniques you use to catch waves. We’ll also take a look at the pros and cons of each style, helping you determine which one might be the best fit for your preferences and skill level.

Surfing vs. Bodyboarding: Differences

Surfing and bodyboarding are both wave riding activities, but they differ in a few key ways:


Surfing requires a surfboard, while bodyboarding requires a smaller, more compact board called a bodyboard. Surfboards are typically longer and wider than bodyboards, with a pointed nose and rounded tail. Bodyboards, on the other hand, are shorter and wider, with a rectangular shape.


The techniques used in surfing and bodyboarding are also quite different. In surfing, you stand up on your board and ride the wave, using your body weight to maneuver the board. In bodyboarding, you lie down on the board and use your fins and body to steer.


The type of waves that are best for surfing and bodyboarding also differ. Surfing requires larger, more powerful waves that are ideal for standing up on a board. Bodyboarding can be done on smaller, less powerful waves, making it a great option for beginners or those who prefer a more laid-back experience.

Pros and Cons of Surfing and Bodyboarding

Like any sport or activity, surfing and bodyboarding each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Surfing Pros:

  • Provides a challenging workout that improves balance, strength, and endurance
  • Offers a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you successfully catch a wave and ride it to shore
  • Can be done in a variety of locations around the world, making it a great option for travel

Surfing Cons:

  • Requires a lot of skill and practice to master, which can be frustrating for beginners
  • Can be dangerous if you’re not careful, with the risk of wipeouts, collisions, and other hazards
  • Requires a larger investment in equipment and lessons compared to bodyboarding

Bodyboarding Pros:

  • Easier to learn and less expensive than surfing, making it a great option for beginners
  • Offers a more laid-back and relaxed experience, with less pressure to perform
  • Can be done on a wider range of waves, including smaller and less powerful ones

Bodyboarding Cons:

  • May not offer the same level of excitement and challenge as surfing for more experienced riders
  • Can be limiting in terms of the types of waves and maneuvers you can perform
  • Requires a smaller, more specialized board that may not be as versatile as a surfboard


Whether you’re interested in surfing or bodyboarding, both offer a unique and thrilling way to enjoy the ocean. By understanding the differences between these two wave riding styles, you can determine which one might be the best fit for your preferences and skill level.

If you’re looking for a challenging and exhilarating workout that requires skill and practice, surfing might be the right choice for you. But if you’re a beginner or prefer a more laid-back experience, bodyboarding could be the perfect option. Ultimately, the best way to determine which one you prefer is to give both a try and see which one resonates with you the most.

Regardless of which wave riding style you choose, it’s important to remember to always prioritize safety. Be sure to wear the appropriate gear, such as a wetsuit and a leash, and only attempt waves that are within your skill level.

In summary, both surfing and bodyboarding offer unique and exciting ways to enjoy the ocean. By understanding the differences between these two wave riding styles and considering your own preferences and skill level, you can make an informed decision about which one to pursue. So grab a board, hit the waves, and have fun!

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