Surfing vs. Bodyboarding

Cori and I made a trip to Cocoa Beach over the weekend. Last summer we were stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, just a few miles south of Cocoa, and we spent a few days every week at the beach–it was great. So this past Saturday we trekked to one of the known locations for surfing, though between the two of us the preferred method for wave-riding differs.  Cori is a long time surfer, with a 7 foot fun-shape that she got as a birthday gift a few years back. Me, on the other hand, well not so much. I’ve tried surfing before and the best I usually get is riding the wave while laying flat on the board. Which is essentially the same as bodyboarding (or Boogie boarding).

Surfing carries a certain coolness, like riding a Harley or knowing how to moonwalk. And it looks like fun, when the waves are actually decent and when you can actually stand up for long enough to control the board, but I think the superior way to ride the waves in Florida is via the tried and true bodyboard.  Cori and I have had this conversation a few times, and in the end I am never convinced that surfing is more fun than bodyboarding. Here are my top three reasons why Boogie boarding is far and away superior to surfing.

  1. Bodyboarding is easier–you don’t have to wait on the perfect wave, you don’t have to worry about paddling out (which is the worst part of surfing if you go when the waves are even a little choppy), and you don’t have to worry about the wave tumbling you if you fall off (usually).
  2. Bodyboarding is more practical–when you want to go surfing in Florida, there are only a handful of days a year when you can do so in the Gulf, so realistically you’ve got to drive to somewhere on the eastern coast. Our favorite spot is Cocoa Beach based on the proximity to Cori’s grandparents in Orlando, so that means it’s never just a day trip to go surfing. And it also means some delicate packing must be done in order to get the surf board into the car. With a bodyboard none of this is a serious concern. You can catch waves in the Gulf, and if you do want to go on a longer drive to get to the beach, the Boogie board fits easily in the trunk, the back seat, in the floor behind the driver seat, on the rear dash panel…
  3. Surfing kills–seriously, how often can you recall hearing about shark attacks in New Smyrna Beach or other places? And how often are those shark attacks on surfers? Have you ever heard of a shark attacking someone on a bodyboard? Nuff’ said. :)

So those are my reasons, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has additional reasons, or wants to rebut my points.

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53 Responses to Surfing vs. Bodyboarding

  1. Life Stylist says:

    Hey I have to agree that bodyboarding is easier. I’ve been surfing for 10 years or so now and have tried bodyboarding a couple of times. Each time I have been able to easily ride waves and pull some tricks and stuff.
    I just get a bigger buzz out of adding the need to stand up to the equation. It’s more of a challenge for me. My philosophy is just ride anything … surf or bodyboard … ski or snowboard … waterski or wakeboard … who really cares. Just get your ass off the couch and go and do something active that gives you an adrenalin hit…

  2. Micah McMillan says:

    That makes sense, the tougher the challenge, the greater the reward when you succeed. Kudos for the long time surfing too! :)

  3. I wouldn’t say bodyboarding is better than surfing but I would say it is defintely way more enjoyable and funner than surfing. I agree that it’s easier as well. Either way I just love being in the water. Don’t forget your wetsuits or at least a wetsuit shirt if you want to stay in the water longer.

  4. judson syrett says:

    If easier means better than count me out. Body boarding is too easy. Don’t get me wrong I respect the people out there who do it and follow the etiquette rules, but too many people on body boards just drop into waves without looking and endanger themselves and others not to mention totally disrespecting the person who actually had position to get the wave by dropping in on them. You can get deeper in barrels with a bodyboard but it does not take as much skill to do it. Now people who stand up on bodyboards and play by the rules in the lineup those are the people that deserve props. Because you can fit a bodyboard in the trunk does not make it better. As for sharks you probably don’t hear about the attacks on bodyboards b/c they get swallowed whole. At least with a surfboard you have alittle something to get stuck in jaws.

  5. Micah McMillan says:

    In my book “more fun” and “easier” DO equal “better.” But semantics aside, my point is that for a more consistent wave-riding experience, you’re better off with a bodyboard. I live (and surf) in Florida, where the waves in the Gulf are generally pretty small, and the waves on the east coast can be really choppy when they’re big enough to use a surfboard. So in my experience, it’s easier to catch waves with a bodyboard. Catching more waves means more fun–so that’s why I side with the bodyboard. Nothing personal, just that I would rather go out and be able to ride within five minutes, as opposed to waiting twenty minutes between waves (not to mention the difficulty in standing up issue).

    And you’re right, there are some really inconsiderate folks out there, bodyboarders and surfers alike. But I’ve had just as many surfers creep into place behind me while I’ve been waiting for a good wave; lane-/wave-stealing isn’t limited to bodyboarders.

    Bottom line though, as another commenter mentioned, it’s all about having some fun in the water, and having a good attitude too.

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  7. SupermanLiesDown says:

    I’m tired of all the surfers who think they are superior because they have big and sharp looking surfboards that compensate their lack of pee pee size.

    I wait in a line for ages and the same old farts come back after catching the original line up go past my shoulder and then hit the peak again dropping down infront of me. Its really frustrating. On a booger I feel a lot slower than the paddling surfers. I can move reasonably quick but when they really start paddling hard they glide a little faster and pay no respects to the fact that i’ve been waiting and keep trying to move infront with them but they still disregard me. Its almost like survival of the fittest, rather than a peaceful fun day in the water.

    I also get a lot of anger from surfers if i’m even remotely in their way while they’re getting down on a wave. Sure getting out fo their way is a god thing but them swearing at you is not.

    I think another advantage with bodyboarding over surfing is the culture has less of an ego and small pee pee syndrome. Just imagine if surfers acted like the bodyboarders you run into out there. It would be a much more enjoyable sesh then with the angry mob that stands up and reserves the right to run you over.

    • ADZ says:

      Ermmmm to be fair Ive been surfing for about 2 years now and before that i used to body board. i know a few life guards and they prefer surfers due to pure saftey factor if you get dragged out to sea on our little 3 foot body board what chance have you got of surviving where as me on my 7’6 surfboard i can stay afloat for hours without worry and based on pure size i have more chance of being spotted than you do.
      i always saw body boarders that were just ignored but to be fair maybe some of you do get ignored if you come and be part of the line up your not going to get ignored where i surf but it is only because some (not all) just push in so you don’t help your self and you have no skill thus no respect earned its taken me 2 years to get to a level where its worth getting out back and your sort come a fanny around pretending your cool with some novelty item you bought from the local beach shop.

  8. sil says:

    The truth is, bodyboarding’s fun as hell. You can get tubed on a one-foot day, and if you’re good, places like Pipe go from a death-or-glory no-turn zone into a freakin’ skatepark. And maybe that’s the simple reason that a lot of surfers don’t like bodyboarders. They resent the intrusion into their place of worship. They make years of struggling to master the art of getting tubed without looking like Mr. Pooman or doing a roundhouse cutback without getting gorilla arms seem like a massive waste of their time, because some kid on a sponge is getting the pit of his life at Pipe and he never ever had to worry about blowing the drop and getting a fin in the jugular or a nose in the eye (unless it came from the surfer who dropped in on him, that is)

  9. judson syrett says:

    I do have to 110% agree more waves = more fun but I also have to say that I have surfed anumber of spots in the gulk including the Navarre Pier, Pensacola, panama city, Destin and Fort Walton beach and they had some damn good waves when there was swell but any one who says more waves = more fun and good attitude (thats why I ride a long board until the waves tell me I can’t anymore and barring dead low tide and 15+ ft waves I am still waiting for that to happen)is right on the money and I certainly don’t support the bad attitude there is way way too much of that in the water now and I think it makes the waves go flat too. I just love to stand up though but I ma going to have to give the body board a go since there are so many supporters here can someone recommend some good shapers/ makers to me

  10. bodyboarder says:

    i think bodyboarding is much more fun because…
    1. think of how many tricks you can learn on a surf board 7 maybe, body board, far more.

    2. if you get hit by a bodyboarder you might get a bruise, surfer you could die.

    3. transportability.

    4. yes it is easier to simply catch the wave but i think the tricks and air involved with bodyboaring makes it equally as difficult if not more than surfing

    • spong3r says:

      I totally agree with bodyboarder. The tricks in bodyboarding make it equally difficult as surfing. I give props to both. Just have fun with it

  11. Gorrilla Arms says:

    I get it. bodyborders want to have safe easy fun, nothing challenging. Its like sledding instead of skiing or snowboarding. Everyone is whining about WHY surfers are so disrespectful to bodyboarders (small dicks, jealousy, etc). Face it surfers are by nature an aggressive bunch. We fight each other for waves, too. When a set comes everyone jockeys for the best position (unlike the guy who complained he was waiting and some surfer moved around him). Its a sport, a competition, and for surfers catching the wave is as fun as riding it (yes… my definition of fun is beating the other guy). I’m not suggesting you should get out of the water, just be aware of who you’re getting in with and quit bitching about it.

  12. Ben says:

    Well although you do bring up good points I still think surfing is more fun. I would also like to dispute your point that sharks almost always attack surfers. Face it. There are more surfers in the water than boogieboarders by a solid 25:1 ratio at the least. At my local break, at least, and yours too I’ll bet. Surfers aren’t preferred targets for sharks. That’s just numbers for ya.

  13. Micah McMillan says:

    Fair enough Ben. Maybe I’d be safer saying it’s better to boogieboard because 25 out of 26 sharks prefer surfers. :)

    • ADZ says:

      no i know why surfers get eaten by sharks

      your’e average body boarder is not special enough to be its own class thus you get called surfers (which is ofensive to every real surfer out there)

      • Chris says:

        ADZ : shame you can’t spell. You probably can’t surf either. Get out of mommy’s basement and go get some fresh air you troll.

    • greg says:

      Sharks won’t hurt you if you stay out of the water.

  14. Bodyboarding says:

    Have you seen Jeff Hubbard bodyboard? The stuff he is doing does ont look to easy

  15. Durablepants says:

    1. Bodyboarders achieve more and better aerial maneuvers than surfers.
    2. It is easier to find great spots.
    3. Swimfins can save your life after a terrible wipeout.
    4. Bodyboarding is less attractive for posers.

    After all, the most important thing is to always have fun..

  16. i come from joss bay in england and im only 11. im an alrite surfer. Although the waves i surf are more for bodybording then surfing i stil surf them insted. i am a soul surfer and wen im older i realy want to get tubed but the waves i surf right now do not realy provide that opportunity. i think surfing is better then bodybording because it is mor spiritual and all bodyboarders do is do huge tricks. I hav to admit the tricks peformed in bodybording are much more impressive then the ones in surfing but a true surfer dusnt care about what other people think about the way they surf, they just have fun insted of showing off. I dont think ther should be any conflict between surfers and bodyborders we should just be enjoying ourselves

    • spong3r says:

      Hey pete, Im i bodyboarder (12yr) and you made a very good point there. Surfing is more spiritual then bodyboarding, it has a bigger history behind it. Kind of like longboarding and skateboarding. But your right we should just enjoy ourselves ;)

  17. Micah McMillan says:

    Well spoken (if not spelled), Pete the Surfer. :)

  18. judson syrett says:

    Amen Pete you are dead on! I want to come surf in England seen many beautiful pics. guess what everybody I have a bodyboard now and also a waterproof video camera will be looking to add videos as the surf permits to profile name judsonsyrett. there are a lot of haters on that site who comment but I am not deterred and again I say Pete you hit the nail on the head don’t lose that attitude! I had it when I was young and lost it for a while but I am getting it back and comments like yours help. We all need to get back to why we started surfing and why we surf now whether it be on a longboard, bodyboard, shortboard, piece of wood or just the body itself Surfing is fun lets keep it that way

  19. i wil go on your profile judson, i go on to magicseaweed all the time to see if the swell is good at joss bay, unfortunately right now the surf is flat :(

  20. Corpussurfer89 says:

    Yea, im going to have to disagree with most of you here, i live in Corpus Christi (if you couldn’t tell by my name), and i have been surfing for almost 8 years. While Corpus might be a little bit more consistent (swell) i know for a fact that people get great surf sometimes on the gulf side. if its a 2.5 foot day, im out surfing not a longboard but a shortboard…while it may not be as much fun as bodyboarding for said day, when a day comes that is a lot better…i feel much faster, can pull off bigger maneuvers, and have more fun than any boogieboard could ever give me. I would suggest to you to try out surfing a little more, get a little better at duckdiving, and give surfing another shot. The first year that i was surfing in texas was hell…i got almost no rides, getting out was horrible, and i felt like i wasnt progressing. But, i look back now and i would do it all over in a heartbeat.

  21. Micah McMillan says:

    I guess when I talk about surfing in the Gulf I’m speaking about the Florida side. Texas, I don’t know, but if you can get up that’s great. :)

  22. christian diaz says:

    well im with bodyboarding and surfing…. bodyboarding thats a law> jeje.. i have done both and i live on Puerto Rico> great island to surf. recomendationn<!!!! sorry if the bad spelling, not sow good with the english. and i think people forget what it the beuty.. the wave is the beuty . nature both are the connection with men and nature. it don’t matter with what ur riding is how good u can dance on that wave..any wave big , small all are different beats.. enjoy don’t put alot of mind on it.. de puerto rico pal mundoo. !

  23. Micah McMillan says:

    Gracias Christian!

  24. Ricky says:

    I started out surfing for a couple or so years before I finally got into bodyboarding. I think of them as 2 different (among so many) ways of enjoying the waves. I can’t really agree that one is superior to the other but I can say that any hate by surfers to bodyboarders and vice versa is totally immature & uncalled for. People are people – bad attitude comes from both bodyboarders & surfers. One is not less aggressive than the other.

    Bodyboarders & surfers ride the same waves & that simply means no one is above another.

  25. noname says:

    Have never really tried body-boarding. To me one of the most fun aspects of surfing is the rush I get when jumping up on my feet when dropping into a big wave – I do like wipe-outs actually. Agreed, on the east-coast the surf’s usually shite, but I still prefer riding my mal over a boogie.

    I have had many fun sessions with boogie-boarders, but have to say that I am often skeptical about boogers in the surf. Many of them seem to lack the skill and knowledge to be out in the lineup. It isn’t all that easy to get out into the surf on a standup-board and one has to acquire certain skills to get out into the lineup in the first place. The ease of boogie boarding seems to allow a lot of kooks to get into surf they’re not prepared for – dangerous for them and others.

    Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against boodie-boards, as long as they take the time to learn a few things about surfing. Well, and even the most experiecned surfer is in someone else’s way every once in a while.

  26. me ... i like surf says:

    well where i live there are more bodyboarders than surfers but thats only because its alot cheaper and easier to get a bodyboard but its the same i have a lot fun riden the wave feeling the power of the wave on my feet that the greatest thing ever…xD

  27. i realy like bodyboarding. It’s how i got into surfing. I started bodyboarding at the age of 6 and at the age of 10 i started to surf. I woz 12 a few weeks ago and i stil luv to surf. Surfing is alot harder then bodyboarding and that’s why i think there are an incresing amount of bodyborders. I really love surfing and bodybording but i hope they do’t become as popular as football otherwise catching waves wil be a nightmare lol and it wil also get alot mor competitive. The competitive side of surfing and bodyboarding aren’t nearly as good as the adventures that you can get surfing the world. Because if you start competing to much the only pleasure you’ll get from the sport will be by beating sumone but the real fun of surfing wont be there. That’s why I just have fun and I admit i do enter sum local grom competitions round my area but they are nothing serious. If you ask me you should just have fun. It’s the only way to get what you want out of your sport. :)

    • Jules says:

      Hi Pete the surfer

      I come from Cornwall but now live in Suffolk and have always assumed there wasn’t much surf in the SE. Notice you come from Joss Bay, Kent, and wondered what that’s like for Bodyboarding. I have been teaching my two (10 and 13) to bodyboard down in Polzeath and they love it so much I would like to find somewhere a bit nearer to home. What size swell and state of the tide is best for some fun bodyboarding at Joss Bay. Any advive welcomed.

      Cheers, Jules.

  28. the surf at joss bay can get quite choppy, so it is quite hard to learn how to bodyboard or surf there. But there are some times where it can be glassy and easy. If you want a day like that for learning it’s best if you go on a strong N or NW. NE and E are very choppy so don’t go then. But I guess the best learners wave is folkestone, but it’s a very nasty place with lots of chavs. The best surf at joss for tides is 2 hours before high tide. Joss bay is quite friendly. The surf crew there are nice at they have surf lessons too.

  29. Memsfeemn says:

    You may have found out about the huge oil leak outside of the Gulf. Do you think this may have got a considerable damaging impact on our animal population in close proximity to Mexico?

  30. chritoph says:

    is this some sort of joke …? bodyboarding is a for little children that havent learnt to surf yet.. anyone who says bodyboarding is better than surfing has never surfed a day in there life.. or are just really bad at it… i bodyboarded for 5 years until i started surfing and the time and waves iv waisted bodyboarding beings me to tears

    • Micah McMillan says:

      Nope–not a joke. I really think body boarding is more enjoyable. And I have surfed more than “a day” in my life. I’m sure some folks do enjoy surfing more, and that’s cool–to each his own, I guess, but I have more fun body boarding than surfing.

      • greg says:

        I think that bodyboarding is your choice. I prefer surfing. But, at least you say than instead of then. What is up with everyone saying this is better then that?

  31. James says:

    Bodyboarding is more fun because

    1) We pull bigger, better tricks in pretty much any conditions

    2) We charge heavier waves that can’t be surfed on a surfboard, the Right and Cyclops for example

    3) We don’t do it because its “cool” or the “in thing” like most surfers

  32. Co to Socal says:

    Funny posts… I just moved to SoCal from Co. I’m a skateboarder, rollerblader, snow skier, snowboarder, solemn skier, wake boarder, knee boarder, now bodyboarder, and someday surfer. I have had fun doing all of these sports at different times in my life. Right now I’m a body boarder, I’ve only gone one time and had a blast. Yes I totally sucked but who cares. Some of you need to rethink your lives. If you really even care what kind of board someone rides you better be under 13 or you need your ass kicked.

    • greg says:

      It’s ok to suck at it. We all have to learn and the place to do so is in the ocean. Just don’t join a crowed lineup until you have the right skills. It takes a little while to understand the big picture of it all. There are plenty of waves off to the side of the main breaks that are very fun, especially for bodyboarders. That’s all a real surfer asks for. Peace

  33. gotoffs says:

    I’m a surfer out in Long Beach, NY. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert surfer, whether you are a gold medalist swimmer taking a dip, a bodyboarder trying to score waves, or just getting your feet wet, we are all guests in the ocean. No one should act like they own the place, and we should treat it with respect.

    If there’s a bodyboarder that enjoys his or herself as much as I do when I surf a wave, then more power to them. It should be how much fun you are having and not about if your having more fun than everyone else in the water.

    • Micah McMillan says:

      Right on, I’m with you man. Live and let live–just don’t run your board into anyone out there! :)

      • greg says:

        Just have respect and don’t be a danger to others. I have never had a problem with bodyboarders before. I have had out of control Paddleboarders scare me though. Peace

  34. JD100 says:

    I’m a bodyboarder from the mountains of Maine who enjoys riding in both ME and NH. I lack the time and finances at this point to travel extensively, least of all for a magical trip to Teahupo’o (or any other spot where 15′ – 30′ waves are the norm. I’m 42 years old, I run a company with 500 team members in it, and I have a wife, three beautiful kids and a dog. Also – I’ve never even attempted surfing. When I’m out there in the lineup I’m usually the only bodyboarder out there… though I’ve seen a couple others lately in some decent swells. I travel at least 90 minutes or more each way in order to ride, and I usually arrive at dawn in order to be out of the water and get back home to work or run errands.

    I’m strong and fit, and I can ride these 4′ – 8′ waves pretty darned well. I’m not an expert, but I’m a very solid intermediate. No tricks yet… I’m in it for the vertical rush and the horizontal ride-out. I’ll start tricking it later on. I show respect, and after I catch a few waves and ride ‘em out, I seem to get respect from these guys who usually start the day by looking down their noses at me. I don’t let it bother me… why sould I care about what some average surfer (let’s face it, most surfers are still average where I ride) thinks about what I’m riding on? I’m probably better on my board than he/she is on his/hers. I smile and say hey, and I go about my business.

    I bust my ass to get down to the shore a dozen times each fall, I bust my ass to earn some good riding once I’m in the water, and I’m as polite and friendly as I can be to people I don’t know, so the last thing I worry about is whether someone cares about what I’m riding on. As long as I’m playing nicely with the others and not cutting people off or causing a hassle, I don’t see what the big deal is… if I’m being jackass, then don’t assume that all bodyboarders are – and if I see a surfer acting like a jackass, then I won’t assume that all surfers do. It cracks me up to hear this argument keep going on and on, when it’s kinda pointless.

  35. Clare says:

    will it be easier to surf after I’ve accomplished body boarding? I’m only 4’6, and I’ve just recently moved to the east coast. I’ve been snowboarding for years and I’ve always wanted to surf.

    • Micah McMillan says:

      Clare, it might be easier to get a feel for how to catch a wave–beginning to paddle as the wave approaches, feeling the swell pick up the back of the board (so your feet are higher than your head) and ride the surf–if you start with a body board. It’s arguably easier to catch a wave on a big surf board (though you might want to stay on your belly, instead of popping up), so either way, just be patient and keep trying. Have fun!

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