A Guide for Older Surfers | Learning to Surf in Your 40s or 50s

While surfing can be extreme sport, it is more about the lifestyle than riding waves. As such, growing old is not a barrier, many older surfers learn to surf in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s. However, as an older surfer, it is important to be mindful of the type of surfboard you use and the spot you go surfing.

Generally, older surfers tend to do better on voluminous, wider, and longer, which offers additional stability and paddling power. This guide will discuss the benefits of surfing for older adults, surfers who started late, and the best surfboard for older surfers.

Older Surfers: Is Surfing Good for Old People?

As we get older, staying active cannot be overemphasized for our physical and mental health. Surfing on a paddleboard or surfboard is an amazing activity that offers a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. It has many health benefits as an all-round workout activity. Here are reasons surfing is good for older people.

A Form of Exercise

Surfing is a great exercise that helps older people exercise their joints and muscles. The process of paddling and riding waves involves the movement of many muscles, which helps improve the endurance, physical strength, and flexibility of older people.

As a bonus, surfing helps older people improve their stability and balance, which contributes to ensuring their bodies are in tune and avoiding harmful falls. After all, surfing engages large muscle groups in the torso and legs, which is great for keeping in shape.

Improves Mental Health

Another reason learning to surf at 40 or even at 70 is great is that it offers several mental benefits beyond improving physical health. Older surfers can keep their minds engaged and exercised by analyzing and navigating waves.

Also, surfing boosts the mood, keeping surfers happier than before getting in the water. When you surf, more dopamine and endorphins get released into the body, which helps to improve the mood.

Boost Immune System

As we age, the effects on our immune system tend to manifest at multiple levels. But generally, it tends to diminish in function as we mature. Hence elderly do not respond to immune challenges as robustly as the young, making the elderly prone to falling ill.

But when the elderly engage in activities like surfing to stay active, it helps to boost the immune system. Physical activity like surfing and cold water boosts your immune system by stimulating the lymphatic system, which helps the body fight diseases and infections better.

Improve Skin Quality

Another reason the elderly should consider surfing is that it is great with your beauty regime. It’s common for the skin to lose its elasticity and hair as we age. But surfing in the ocean is a great way to improve skin quality. The ocean water is salty, a great way to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells.

Also, the saltwater in the ocean helps to relieve acne and make the skin glow and look brighter. Since saltwater contains minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and so on, it helps keep your hair healthy and strong.

Fun for Older Surfers

Surfing is also a fun way for the elderly to pass the time. It might not be the easiest learning activity, but the rewards are huge once you commit yourself to it and overcome the barrier. Any surfer surfing for a while will tell you the activity is addictive and exciting, providing a sense of freedom.

Surfing allows you to have fun while strengthening your mind, body, and soul. It also provides surfers with many opportunities to make friends and socialize. Also, surfing provides an inspiration to travel with intention.

older surfer carving a wave, learning to surf at 50 maybe learning to surf at 40

Older Surfers: Pro Surfers Who Started Late

Have you ever wondered, “how many years does it take to learn surfing?” Interestingly, it takes less time than many people often do. Generally, it can take between two hours to a month of practice.

Even if you’re a slow learner and you struggle a bit, it wouldn’t take you more than two months to be able to ride a wave. As such, there is always time to learn how to surf. Below are a few examples of pro surfers who started late but could still reach the top.

Seiichi Sano

Seiichi Sano is one of the oldest male surfers in history. Born in September 1933 in Japan, Seiichi is an 89-year-old surfer who started surfing at 80. He currently holds the Guinness world record for being the oldest active surfer.

Seiichi was awarded the Guinness world record on the 8th of July, 2022. And to date, Seiichi still enjoys surfing and regularly enjoys the ocean despite his age.

Bernie Shelly

Another name that comes to mind when considering old surfers is Bernie Shelly. This Capetonian granny surely did not let age get in the way of her lifestyle, as she still surfs at 70. If she can do it at 70, then learning to surf at 70 is possible.

Although Bernie has been surfing since she was 19, being married and having to undergo bilateral hip surgery all put a pause on her travels and surfing activities. But she didn’t quit and made a comeback to surfing and today has competed in several renowned events and has several achievements to her name.

Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater is another one of the oldest competitive surfers in the industry. Born in 1972, Kelly is an American professional surfer popular for his achievement in the World Surf League. Kelly holds 56 championship tour victories, making him one of the oldest successful surfers in the industry.

If, at the age of 51, Kelly is still shredding waves, then learning to surf at 50 is possible. Though Kelly began surfing at age five, his love for surfing most likely took root from growing up near water as he was the son of a bait-store proprietor. And at age 10, he already had a title to his name up and down the Atlantic coast.

Barry McGuigan

Barry McGuigan, popularly known as Magoo, is a legend that shows how surfing can last a lifetime. Although he passed on at the age of 85 in 2014, Barry competed up until the year of his death. So, learning to surf at 80 is still possible.

Fighting non-Hodgkin lymphoma and old age were no match for Barry’s sheer determination to surf and practice yoga. One lesson from this competitive surfer’s life is that age is not a barrier to learning to surf or perfecting the act.

Laura Blears

Laura Blears is another renowned surfing figure who is still enthusiastic about surfing even in her 60s. If she can, then learning to surf at 60 is easier than you thought. Born in 1950, Laura is an American surfer primarily active from the 1970s to 1980s.

Laura is popular for her achievement of being the first woman to win the Smirnoff World Pro-Arm surfing competition championship in 1972. In 1973, she was the world’s number-one female surfer.

Best Surfboard for Older Surfers

Older surfers between the 40s and 80s cannot use the same surfboard as young lads. Older surfers require wider surfboards with a thruster setup of about three fines to provide balance and predictability on the board.

Thankfully, several surfboards are designed to provide older surfers with the right board length, width, thickness, and volume mix. Here are the best five surfboards for older guys.

1. Kona Surf Co. Malibu Surfboard

Kona Surf Co Malibu Surfboard

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The Kona Surf Malibu surfboard is perfect for all skill levels, including older surfers. The board comes in a range of sizes, giving you the freedom to choose what works best for you. It features surfboards ranging from 6 inches to 9 inches, giving you enough rocker and volume as an older surfer.

This surfboard comes with three soft flex fins with a high-quality leash to provide great predictability and secure the board to your fit while in the water. Generally, the board’s design provides maximum float as it is built with two stringers inside an EPS core and an outer epoxy shell.

2. Modern Highline Surfboard

Modern Highline Surfboard


The Modern Highline surfboard is another excellent surfboard to consider as a novice to an intermediate surfer. With this surfboard, you get excellent buoyancy, stability, and control, essential in building confidence for older surfers. The Modern Highline surfboard comes in up to 6 different sizes, giving you the luxury to choose what works best for you.

Whichever sizes older surfers go for will work excellently in providing good performance. The smallest size has a length of 5’8″ and a width of 21″, while the biggest board has a length of 6’8″ and a width of 22 7/8″. The weight also differs, but the construction material is generally polyester which explains its exceptional buoyancy.

3. Ghost Thruster Surfboard

Ghost Thruster Surfboard


The Ghost Thruster surfboard is a hybrid surfboard hand carved with precision. It is the perfect tri-fin soft surfboard for older surfers. The surfboard’s wide style and shape make it easy to ride. The Ghost surfboard is highly durable and crafted with patented aluminum and unique vinyl skin.

The patented vinyl skin system of the Ghost Thruster surfboard is designed with a Gore-tex vent, which ensures the skin lasts longer. Also, the patented advanced aluminum stringer system keeps the surfboard lightweight and strong.

4. Modern Love Child Surfboard

Modern Love Child Surfboard

Another perfect surfboard for older surfers is the Modern Love Child surfboard. It is a surfboard with a versatile cruiser that will surely double your wave count. Interestingly due to the sophisticated design of this surfboard, it paddles exceptionally well and maneuvers well. It also adapts to wave conditions, giving you good balance and control.

This surfboard glides effortlessly into waves due to its subtle lift in the tail rockers, which promotes smooth gliding. The three different fin configurations also provide up to three different types of performance while catching waves. The polyester contribution material and varied sizes that range from 6’4″ to 8’0″ in length and 21 ½” to 22 ½” in width offer great performance.

5. Lil Noche Pro Surfboard

Lil Noche Pro Surfboard


The Lil Noche Pro surfboard is a pocket rocket that offers great performance and speed while surfing. It is the perfect surfboard for small conditions, especially if you like to surf shortboards. It supports riders up to 225 pounds. The surfboard measures 5’8” long and can dispense a volume of 37 liters.

It offers much buoyancy as a surfboard, ideal for intermediate and experienced surfing skills. The rounded tail improves its overall stability and maneuverability, which keeps catching waves fun and easy. Also, the deep double concave shape through the tail sparks this board on up and keeps it loose and lively.


In summary, old age is no limitation to learning how to surf. As discussed earlier, several pro surfers were actively surfing in their 50s, 60, 70s, and even 80s. So, it’s never too late if you have always had a flair for surfing but never got a chance to learn it. You can start learning how to surf at any age.

It’s even an excellent form of physical exercise for the elderly to improve their joints and muscles and rejuvenate the mind. Surfing has numerous benefits, and everyone should take advantage of it. If you consider taking surfing seriously, start by getting the right surfboard. As elaborated in this guide, you can use any recommended surfboard.

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