The Great Debate: Is Surfing Expensive?


Waves and a Surfboard: In the end, that's all you need to surf!

If you're interested in learning how to surf or teaching your kids how to surf, you might be wondering: Is surfing expensive?

I've heard this question pop up quite a lot, and with surfing breaching into the same realms of every other sport, such as with the rise of academic surf teams, surfing in the Olympics, and really just a general uptick in surfing's popularity; it makes sense to ask!

Snag your Salty Threads and read on, my ocean-loving people.

A General Overview of the Cost of Surfing

Overall, surfing is a highly affordable sport, and more than that, it's a lifestyle. Once you have what you need, a day on the beach is always free! (cough, cough- dear parking meters, you suck).

However, the general cost of surfing really depends on how you and your family wish to approach this life of riding waves. There won't ever be a set cost to surfing, and there's beauty in that, as it allows almost all of us to access the water regardless of financial status.

It boils down to whether surfing is simply a fun activity, a way to unwind after a long day of work with your groms, or if it is something that you want to take seriously in terms of a possible professional career path, travel, competition, and so on.  

Let's break down a few of these intricacies to help you understand what to expect.

Learning How to Surf

You can learn how to surf without spending much at all. Buy a used board for $100-200 bucks or borrow one from a friend, snag a wettie if needed, watch some videos, and get out there!

You don't need surf lessons, you really don't, but they do help. However, lessons are way more expensive than trial and error, so if you can't afford them, don't let this stop you from surfing!

Learning how to surf can literally be a free activity, depending on who you know and how you approach it.

Surfing the Day Away! Stay Protected From the Sun With a Rash Shirt.

A Hobby Surfer

If surfing becomes your lifestyle, then sure, it becomes a bit more expensive, too. You'll find that you search for waves a bit harder, driving more kilometers to find the best break. You might book a few trips here and there, and you probably have more than one surfboard.

But honestly, if you have a good board or two, then that with some gas in the tank is still all you need to surf for years on end.

Me, Doing What I Love Before Working on New Releases!

A Competitive Surfer

If you're here because your grom is interested in the competitive surfing lifestyle, then you're looking at the most expensive approach to surfing. Like any team sport, there will be major sign-up fees for competition, lots of travel (local and even international), the need for many surfboards, and professional surf coaching.

So, is surfing expensive? It is if you want to compete and travel the world, but it sure isn't if you're just doing it for fun at your local break with friends!

The Cost of Surfing Equipment

Surfing equipment is the first major expense relating to the cost of surfing. The good news is that you don't need much, and there are tons of ways to reduce the price tag on surfing equipment and surfing accessories.

How Much Does a Surfboard Cost?

You can't surf without a surfboard, obviously. Your board is typically the most expensive aspect of the surfing lifestyle, at least in the beginning stages before you start booking trips to Indonesia or Fiji!

So, how much does a surfboard cost? Again, it depends!

First off, you and your groms will most likely start off on a soft-top surfboard. These surfboards are made of a special type of water-resistant foam (versus epoxy and polyester surfboards, the type you see most surfers riding), perfect for new surfers. They float well, helping you catch your first round of small waves, they're durable, and their soft surface isn't intimidating in the water.

As you progress, you'll start seeking out surfboards with more performance. Then, you'll look to expand your quiver of surfboards so that you have a shred sled for every type of wave condition, and that's when things start to become a bit pricey.

Bryxton and Her Soft Top Surfbaord!

Soft Top Surfboards

You can find new soft top surfboards for about $200, some better, higher performance foamies sitting in the $400 range.

To reduce the cost of buying a foam surfboard, look for a used one on local marketplaces!

Epoxy and Polyester Surfboards

Once you or your grom has the basics down and you're looking to expand your abilities, this will require a higher-performance surfboard. Made of epoxy or polyester, a new, high-performance shortboard can flaunt a price tag anywhere from $600 to $1,100.

Again, you can find tons of good, used surfboards for way less; just make sure they are free of dings and any major repairs that might hinder the board's performance.

You can also find local shapers who might not charge as much as major surf brands. Opt for a hybrid surfboard ideal for a wide range of conditions to get the most out of your money.

Epoxy and Polyster Surfboards

Performance Longboards

Everyone needs a killer log in their quiver. Longboards are perfect for small, easy waves, and longboarding in itself is a surfing style that some prefer over shortboarding.

That said, because they are so large, they require more material to make and are therefore more expensive. A high-quality log can cost ya upwards of $1,300, but there are plenty of models that still sit in the $700 range. You can find a used, quality log for just a couple hundred if you do some digging.

The Cost of a Surfboard: The Summary

Yes, surfboards aren't cheap. But a nice board will last you years, and if you're just a weekend warrior, one board might be all you need! Make the initial investment, buy them used if needed, and take care of them; you'll find it's really not that expensive until you become addicted to building out your quiver!

Soft Top Shreddin' in our Sustainable Grom Boardshorts

Wetsuits!

The colder your climate, the more surfing is going to cost. If your home break requires wetties or more than one wettie, your initial investment in surfing is a bit more.

Some locations require three wetsuits:

  • A 3/2 mm suit for summer
  • A 4/5 mm for fall and spring
  • A 5/4/3mm or 6/5mm with gloves and booties for winter

With other locations, you might only need one suit to get you by! And do note, there are variations to all of these thickness ratings, such as armless springsuits or toppers.

Thinner wetsuits are pretty affordable, under $300, so if you live somewhere that only requires a 3/2, consider yourself lucky. A 6/5 with gloves and booties will run ya up closer to $700, so keep that in mind if you plan on surfing in the cold!

A Cold Water Warrior in His Winter Wettie: Photo by Luke Miller

My advice? You get what you pay for. Cheaper wetsuits won't keep ya as warm or last near as long, so if you're going to invest in a suit, save up for the nice one. If you live in a cold climate and you're just getting into surfing, be honest with yourself- you probably won't surf during the dead of winter your first season. So get a wetsuit that can cover the broadest range of temperatures as you expand your collection with time and savings.

Other Necessary Surfing Equipment

Aside from your board and suit, there are just a few other things you'll need to surf safely and effectively.

A Leg Rope

A leg rope attaches your board to your ankle, keeping you safe and secured to it when you bail. Leg ropes are pretty necessary, but they aren't too expensive, usually just $30-40. Wash your leg rope with fresh water after every session to extend its lifetime.

A Traction Pad

Trac pads help your back foot stick to the board, especially critical when performing turns on the wave. Trac pads will typically last as long as your board does and hover in the $30-40 range. You don't need traction pads for foamies or logs, as these are only necessary on performance shorties.

Surf Wax

Coming in at just a couple bucks a bar, surf wax won't hurt your wallet.

How Much Are Surfing Lessons?

In general, beginner surfers can expect to pay anywhere from $80-$150+ per lesson to learn how to surf. This price fluctuates based on group lessons versus private, if you also need equipment rentals, etc.

Chances are, you will only need 1-2 surf lessons before you can handle yourself in small waves. To lessen this cost, you can always learn how to surf on your own by reading articles and watching videos, and if you have a friend who surfs, buy them a beer in exchange for a lesson!

Dad Giving Out Surf Lessons! interested in teaching your kids how to surf for free? Visit lesson one of our Salty Shreds Surf Kids Series to start!

Surf Coaching

It's surf coaching that comes with a hefty price tag.

Taking competitive surfing seriously often requires a surf coach, especially if you do not surf and cannot coach your grom yourself. If sponsors don't cover these costs, then get ready to dig into the wallet a good bit more.

These guys and gals will charge anywhere from $50 to $100+ per hour depending on their professionalism/experience, and they might travel with you to the contest, also requiring these fees to be covered.

Be ready to budget out a fair chunk of change every month if your grom will jump into the competitive world of surfing seriously.

Other Costs Associated With Surfing

So, once you've got a board and the required wettie/boardshorts, you're ready to surf. Buy that, and surfing isn't expensive, as this equipment will last you years, and surfing itself is free!

Surfing will become more expensive when you start to expand on your new passion.

This means surf trips to international locations, possibly visiting wave pools, and more gas for long drives up the coast. But, in the end, every dollar spent aims to curate an experience. This experience leads to physical and mental growth, connection with the natural world, and time spent with friends and family in the ocean- and for that, I'd spend money on surfing over a new Ipad any damn day.


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Live rad, stay salty.

- Ash, Dev & The Salty Shreds Fam.


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