Surfing vs Bodyboarding: Ultimate Comparison

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Bodyboarding and surfing are two of the most exhilarating water sports that attract enthusiasts from around the world. While both sports involve riding waves, they differ in several aspects, including the equipment used, riding style, and difficulty level.

In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between bodyboarding and surfing, answer common questions, and offer insights for aspiring water sports lovers.


What is Bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding is a water sport that involves riding waves on a small board known as a bodyboard. The rider lies on their stomach on the board, holds onto the nose, and kicks their feet to generate speed and maneuver. Bodyboarding is often referred to as boogie boarding, named after Tom Morey, who invented the bodyboard in the 1970s.


What is Surfing?

Surfing is a water sport that involves riding waves on a surfboard. The surfer stands on the board and uses their weight and balance to catch and ride waves. The sport has a long history, tracing back to ancient Polynesians who used wooden boards to ride waves.


What are the Differences Between Bodyboarding and Surfing?

Bodyboarding and surfing are two popular water sports that involve riding waves, but there are some key differences between the two. Here are the main distinctions:

  1. Equipment: Bodyboarding involves the use of a bodyboard, also known as a boogie board, which is a shorter, rectangular foam board that the rider lies on. The bodyboard has a leash attached to the wrist, allowing the rider to stay connected to the board. In contrast, surfing requires a longer, typically fiberglass board called a surfboard, which the rider stands on. The surfboard is also equipped with fins for stability and control.
  2. Body Position: In bodyboarding, the rider lies on their stomach on the board, using their arms and fins to navigate and control the direction of the board. The rider can perform maneuvers such as spins, rolls, and aerial tricks using their body and the force of the wave. Surfing, on the other hand, involves standing on the surfboard, either in a prone position (lying down) or a more upright position, and using their weight and balance to ride the wave.
  3. Wave Riding Technique: Bodyboarding and surfing have different techniques for riding waves. In bodyboarding, the rider typically catches the wave closer to the shoreline and rides it in a prone position, riding the wave face using the speed and momentum generated by the wave. Bodyboarders often perform maneuvers in the critical part of the wave, such as bottom turns, cutbacks, and aerial maneuvers. Surfing, on the other hand, involves catching the wave further out in the ocean, typically in a standing position, and riding the wave face by maneuvering the surfboard. Surfers use their body and board to perform various maneuvers, including bottom turns, cutbacks, carving, and aerial tricks.
  4. Accessibility: Bodyboarding is often considered more accessible than surfing, as it requires less equipment, is easier to learn, and can be enjoyed in a wider range of wave conditions. Bodyboards are generally less expensive and easier to transport than surfboards, making bodyboarding more accessible to a broader range of people.
  5. Wave Selection: Bodyboarding and surfing also differ in wave selection. Bodyboarders can ride a wider range of waves, including smaller waves and closeouts (waves that break all at once), as the design of the bodyboard allows for greater maneuverability in challenging wave conditions. Surfers, on the other hand, generally look for larger, more open-faced waves that provide a longer and more sustainable ride.


Which Sport is Safer?

Both sports carry some degree of risk, but bodyboarding is generally considered to be safer than surfing. This is because bodyboards are lighter and easier to control, making accidents less severe. However, both sports require proper training, safety gear, and attention to ocean conditions to prevent injuries.


Which Sport is More Popular?

While both sports have a loyal following, surfing is more popular worldwide. Surfing has been an Olympic sport since 2021, which has further boosted its popularity. Bodyboarding is more popular in regions with smaller waves, such as Hawaii, California, and Australia.


Which Sport Should I Choose?

Choosing between bodyboarding and surfing depends on your interest, skill level, and location. If you’re looking for an easier sport to pick up, bodyboarding may be a better choice. However, if you’re seeking a more challenging and dynamic sport, surfing may be the way to go. It’s also worth considering the availability of waves in your area and your preferences for riding style.



In conclusion, bodyboarding and surfing are two unique water sports that offer exhilaration, challenges, and joy to enthusiasts. Both sports have their pros and cons, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preferences and aptitude. Whatever your choice, make sure to take proper safety measures and enjoy the ride!

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

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