Can Longboards Surf Big Waves?

The global prevalence of longboards has exploded over the previous decade, mainly due to their practicality, functionality, and ease of use when surfing over slower and smaller waves. Modern longboards are typically wider, longer, heavier, and more cumbersome than traditional shortboards. Longboards can technically be used to surf big waves, but it is not recommended.

While longboards can be used for surfing big waves, their lengthy, functional, and passive design makes them difficult to maneuver, increasing the chance of severe injury. Longboards are intended to function optimally when traversing smaller, slower waves found in calmer waters.

are an inexperienced surfer or longboarder, experts recommend using one of the traditional shorter surfboards when surfing big, fast, and powerful waves. However, you can safely use your longboard to surf bigger waves in an unexpected emergency. To guarantee your safety and enjoyment, it is vital to use the correct equipment when surfing, as this article will detail.

Are Longboards Practical For Surfing Big Waves?

Longboards are not practical for surfing bigger, faster, and more powerful waves as they were originally designed to operate effortlessly in slower, smaller, and less forceful waves.

While longboards can occasionally handle bigger waves, modern iterations were not intended to continuously traverse the power, speed, or gradient associated with larger waves. However, longboards measuring between nine and ten feet in length can be utilized by experienced surfers to surf in big wave conditions, although this is not recommended for their inexperienced counterparts.

It is said that with the correct equipment and technique, longboards can be an optimal tool to handle some of the largest and most powerful waves imaginable. At the same time, before you attempt to surf big, fast, and powerful waves with a longboard, there are several important considerations to initially account for.

It is incredibly challenging to duck under waves, paddle out, and glide down steep inclines using a traditional longboard. In addition, you must master the fundamentals of big wave and nose-ride surfing before attempting to take your longboard out into larger, more powerful waters.

It is worthwhile noting that modern longboards function optimally in waves of between one and four feet. Most operational longboards can be found in locations such as Hawaii and California, with their notable lull between more forceful swells being ideal.

Since longboards have more volume, are longer, and are significantly heavier compared to shorter surfboards, they offer users unparalleled stability and forgiveness in calmer waters. Moreover, longboards are usually easier to operate and become accustomed to, making it perfect for inexperienced people to learn how to surf.

Can Longboards Surf Big Waves

Are Longboards Or Shortboards Better For Big Wave Surfing?

Short surfboards are the better option for most people concerning big-wave surfing as they offer significantly enhanced control, maneuverability, and agility compared to modern longboards.

Traditionally, shorter surfboards are manufactured in a narrower, more streamlined, and shorter shape. The designs typically associated with shortboards enable them to maneuver instantly in any direction, ideal for having as much control as possible during critical moments while surfing big, steep, and powerful waves.

At the same time, big-wave surfers prefer highly specialized surfboards known as tow boards or gun boards. Generally, these surfboards are considered shortboards as their unique shaping allows them to handle the unmatched intense forces associated with rapidly moving big waves.

It should be noted that while shortboards are usually preferred when surfing bigger, faster waves, longboards can be utilized if necessary. Despite being impractical for high-velocity big-wave surfing, longboards can technically handle big waves if utilized correctly by an experienced surfer.

Additionally, the likelihood of experiencing severe injury while big wave surfing is significantly increased when using longboards. Longboards are not considered unsafe; however, they are substantially more difficult to maneuver quickly, which makes control at crucial moments during the big wave surfing near impossible for most surfers.

While shortboards are accepted as being more practical regarding big-wave surfing, the ultimate decision should be taken per your current surfing skill level, confidence, and state of mind. Taking risks during big-wave surfing can quickly lead to unnecessary disasters, severe injury, and even death.

Tips For Using A Longboard To Surf Big Waves

Safety is the most important aspect of using a longboard to surf big waves. The sheer size, weight, and volume associated with modern longboards make them hazardous projectiles for inexperienced surfers.

There are numerous tips for using a longboard to surf big waves, depending on your skill and experience levels. However, there are five fundamental aspects every longboard surfer should remember while attempting to catch big, powerful, and fast waves:


  • Remember to wear a certified, high-quality leash, which is commonly thought of as the most vital piece of safety equipment for kite surfers while on the waves.
  • Always maintain an appropriate distance from any crowded peaks or fellow swimmers, as the volume, weight, and length associated with modern longboards render them a significant safety risk.
  • Maintain perfect situational awareness while watching your back to ensure the safety of surrounding surfers.
  • Give preference to shortboard surfers when big waves are hard to come by.
  • You should never kick out in a flashy, stylish, or reckless manner, as the longboard’s weight could easily cause severe injury or even death.


While catching and riding big waves using a longboard is more challenging, it is possible with relatively little practice. When using a longboard to ride big and powerful waves, it is vital to catch the wave as early as possible before it breaks. If the wave breaks while attempting to catch it, you will be thrown over the front, as longboards cannot safely surf down steep wave faces.

Catching big waves early, maintaining a knee-bent position, and staying relaxed is the best approach when using longboards, as they will allow you to pinpoint the optimal portion of the board for your feet to be placed for enhanced maneuverability.

Once you are comfortable catching larger, steeper, and more powerful waves, you can implement the drop knee technique, cross-stepping, and riding the nose to make your experience as enjoyable, enthralling, and exhilarating as possible.

Can Longboards Surf Big Waves

The Best Longboards For Big Wave Surfing

Longboards are ideal for small wave surfing and paddling as their noticeable length, weight, and volume allow them to maintain incredible stability without requiring significant momentum.

However, using longboards for big-wave surfing is more challenging than most beginner surfers realize. For anyone aiming to use a longboard for big-wave surfing, it is important to ensure you purchase the most forgiving and controllable version possible.

In addition, the best modern longboard iterations for big wave surfing are usually thicker than 2.5 inches, with an accompanying slender nose and tail area. The longboards’ appropriately thin nose and tail areas enhance control, safety, and enjoyment during crucial moments of big wave surfing.

Furthermore, it is crucial to always keep safety in mind, as longboards are far more inherently dangerous than their shortboard counterparts due to their unparalleled weight, volume, and length. It is accepted that longboards between nine and ten feet are optimal for big wave surfing; however, the best model for you is the one you feel most comfortable, safe, and secure utilizing.


Longboards can surf big, powerful, steep, and fast-moving waves; however, inexperienced surfers are not recommended as the associated and inherent dangers are significant. Due to their noticeable weight, volume, and length, longboards are perfectly suited for small, evenly moving, and slow waves. However, their lack of maneuverability makes them impractical for big-wave surfing.

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