Like any other sport, surfing requires an investment. Although down the line your most significant investment might be your time, every so often, you’ll have to spend some money, especially in the beginning! So, is surfing expensive? I’d say that depends on a few different factors.
Surfing can be made as expensive as you want. You can start surfing as cheap as $500. Then you have a used board, wetsuit, and other basic gear. For about $700 to $900 you have new basic equipment, such as a board, wetsuit, and other basic gear. If you buy professional equipment, the cost will go up.
Before committing to a sport, it’s a very smart and logical choice to inform yourself about the potential costs! It’d be a shame to find out that you can’t afford it or don’t think it’s worth it halfway through purchasing all your gear. Therefore I’ve dedicated this article to the costs of surfing.
The waves are for free, and there are no membership fees. You do need a few things to get started, but these come in many different price ranges. Therefore it’s up to everyone how much they’re willing to spend. It can be a very cheap sport, but it can also become an expensive lifestyle.
My first surfboard and wetsuit were second-hand, and I drove to the beach on my bike. Therefore surfing was very cheap when I started.
However, surfing can be very expensive too!
There is a big difference in prices for surfboards, wetsuits, fins, leashes, and other equipment. Things such as brands and quality can raise the prices by hundreds of dollars.
That said, buying second-hand, less known brands, or in cheaper countries, can lower the costs by a few hundred dollars.
Once you’ve got your gear and wear it gets reasonably cheap. I mean, you might need to spend some money to get to the beach, but once you’re there, the waves are for free.
Your equipment should last a while too! Especially when you’re beginning with surfing.
You may occasionally break a board once you get better and start riding the heavier waves.
Surfing does include more than just the sport. Some see it as a lifestyle and therefore only wear a certain type of brand.
This doesn’t stop at board shorts and wetsuits but includes everything from clothing, shoes, caps, watches, wallets, and lots more.
Suppose you, due to your passion for the sport and the lifestyle, decide to become a surf brand only surfer, dude or girl. In that case, surfing will become very expensive.
But if you love surfing, and you’re not into brands and the whole surf lifestyle shebang, then surfing can be a cheap activity too.
The surf industry is constantly growing and innovating. Therefore there are many products from different price classes. Of course, it’s cheaper to buy off-season or second-hand. However, a new surfboard will generally cost around $700 and a wetsuit $250. These are your basic needs.
A few factors often determine the price of your surf equipment.
These factors are:
I guess it’s about the same as any other product that you can buy. For example, buying board shorts is much cheaper at the end of the summer than before the summer.
This is because brands try to innovate and put new products on the market each season.
Over time, these products will become cheaper, but they’ll cost you top dollar when you buy them once they have just been released.
Then, of course, it depends on where you’re buying the product.
Each country has different tax rules and different price ranges. It’s often cheaper to buy a product in the country where it originates from.
Considering this, you might save money buying some of the products while on a surf holiday! Keep an eye on the prices you’re from, and compare them with the prices where you enjoy your surf holiday.
Buying a board in Indonesia or some board shorts in South America might save you a couple of dollars up to a few hundred dollars.
Besides, if you book your flight with certain airlines, you may even take home that new board you bought at no extra cost.
Before getting into more detail on each product, the last thing I want to point out is the quality and material.
Surfboards can be made of different materials (most common are: foam, wood, epoxy, and polyurethane), wetsuits can be different thicknesses and qualities, even fins have significant differences in quality and materials.
This goes for about everything from surf wax all the way through the different clothes, boards, fins, leashes, wetsuits, rash vests (surf shirt), and even sunscreen.
The better the quality of the product, the more expensive it will be.
However, you don’t need high-quality gear and wear when you’re beginning. Honestly, you’re better off buying low-quality or second-hand.
It’s a waste to destroy a good board by practicing how to do a push-up. Quality often means less weight, faster, more flexibility, and so on.
However, it doesn’t mean more durable, quite the opposite, actually. Therefore you should save yourself some money and start cheap.
I put a few of the basic needs to be able to surf down here to make it uncluttered and easy to read.
These prices are average prices for western countries.
You might find these products a lot cheaper somewhere else. If you do, congratulations! Buy it, enjoy it, destroy it!
The average cost for a new surfboard is between $300 and $1200.
As I pointed out before, surfboards can be made from different materials. The material used will influence the price. The amount of material as well.
Therefore a longboard or stand-up paddleboard will often be more expensive than a shortboard made from the same material.
The brand of the surfboard also influences the price. And last but not least, the method of shaping.
For example, an industrial-made surfboard will be cheaper than a hand-shaped surfboard.
A beginner surfboard is often epoxy and industrial made.
Since a beginner’s board’s main requirements are buoyancy and durability, there won’t be much technical shaping required.
I recommend you to save yourself some money and buy your first board second-hand.
However, if you decide to buy a new one, the price for a beginner surfboard will range between $250 and $600.
Make sure to talk with the surf shop employee. They’re often surfers themselves and might be able to advise you on size, shape, and volume.
Professional surfboards are often hand-shaped with polyurethane or polystyrene covered with fiberglass.
This makes them less heavy, quicker in response, faster on the wave, and the surfer can request specific preferences (when custom made).
However, these boards are less durable; therefore, you should consider whether you are at the level of surfing where you need such a board.
If not, you might break your boards very quickly (which will make surfing drastically more expensive).
The average price of a new professional surfboard ranges between $600 and $1200.
If possible, try to buy them from your local shaper.
Each year more industrial shaped boards are being sold, making it difficult for the shapers to keep their business profitable.
Buying local helps to support these local businesses, and who knows, you might get a discount once you’re a regular.
This is a board which I wouldn’t recommend you to buy brand new.
Although there are some excellent foam boards with fishtails and other nice aspects, they’re still primarily used to learn how to do a push-up in the whitewater.
Most people switch to a funboard (a hardtop, epoxy, between 7 and 8 ft) relatively quickly.
Therefore you can often find second-hand foam boards online or at a garage sale.
You could even decide to rent a foam board until you’re good enough to go straight to a funboard. This could save you money!
However, while second-hand foam boards cost around $100, the price of a new foamboard ranges between $250 and $400.
The price of renting a surfboard really varies depending on the location.
The more popular the beach, the more expensive it will be to rent a surfboard.
There are a few options, though.
I’d recommend a beginner to take a lesson, instead of renting a board. The class will include a surfboard, and when surfing in cold water, a wetsuit too.
This will help you decide if you like surfing and save you from struggling with a surfboard an entire day, not knowing how to surf it.
However, if you know how to surf but just didn’t bring or have a board, the average price to rent a surfboard is between $20 and $60 for a whole day.
This does not include the price to rent a wetsuit. The cost of a wetsuit varies from $20 to $40 per day.
Both boards and wetsuits get cheaper if you rent them for a longer period of time.
You might not need a wetsuit everywhere, but I highly recommend it when surfing in cold water. Surfing is more fun when you’re warm!
Although lessons and the actual prices are pretty high, they can save you from investing in your wear and gear, just to find out that you don’t really like surfing.
Therefore, take a few lessons, rent a few boards (preferably different once so that you can feel what you prefer), get the basics down, get stoked and then buy yourself a surfboard.
Besides a surfboard, you will need other things to start surfing. Below I have listed the costs for the other surfing equipment.
Surf wax will cost you between $7 and $20. Make sure to buy one suited for the ocean temperature where you’re surfing.
Your cold water wax will melt off your board once you start surfing at your holiday destination, where the water is warmer.
There are some dirt cheap sunscreens on the market.
However, please take your skin, our ocean, and the lively hood of the reef into consideration.
For around $20, you can get reef-friendly, waterproof SPF 50 sunscreen.
Brands like Sun Bum and Banana Boat are being sold worldwide, and make sure that while you don’t burn, you also don’t kill the reef with nasty chemicals.
Many different brands are selling board shorts.
Some are flashy, others claim to be made of the newest, most durable fabric, and some are the latest fashion.
However, any board short will do when you start surfing. When you find out that they rip too quickly, maybe look into another brand.
The price of board shorts ranges from $20 to $50.
If you surf cold water, don’t bother buying board shorts. It’s very uncomfortable to wear under your wetsuit!
Rash vests are highly recommended when surfing without a wetsuit. The wax of your surfboard can cause abrasions and rashes.
Besides preventing you from getting hurt, rash vests are also often UPV (sunburn) protective. Wearing one saves you from using lots of sunscreen or a burnt back.
The price of a rash vest is somewhere between $20 and $50, depending on the brand and long sleeve or short sleeve.
Surfing in water under 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is more enjoyable in a wetsuit!
Make sure that the wetsuit fits and feels like a second skin. If they’re too big, they won’t work, and if they’re too small, you won’t be able to move (and it won’t work).
The price of a wetsuit varies from $80 for a summer wetsuit to about $350 for a thick winter wetsuit.
(If you are on a budget but still want a good wetsuit, check out our 13 best surfing wetsuits under $200 buyer's guide)
The price of a surf lesson depends on the lesson’s type, the lesson’s location, the duration of the lesson, and the number of lessons. Generally speaking, a group lesson from 1.5 hours costs around $70 in the US and a one-hour private lesson around $150. These prices include wear and gear.
The price of surf lessons varies per country, region, city, and even beach—the more popular the location, the more expensive the lesson.
So before you head down to the main beach for your first surf lesson, it might be worthwhile to check online if there are any other cheaper beaches in your area.
One other way to reduce the price of a surf lesson is by booking a few lessons. Most surf schools offer packages that include multiple lessons, surfboards, and wetsuits.
I’d recommend such a package since the basics of surfing are pretty difficult. Therefore a few lessons will be needed to enjoy the surf feeling.
Once you’ve got the basics down and still enjoy surfing, I recommend you buy a funboard.
And if you didn’t like it, well at least you didn’t buy all your wear and gear! You just saved yourself some money.
As mentioned before, the price of surf lessons varies a lot per location.
The average price for a group lesson in the US is between $50 and $100. Most group lessons are between one and two hours. A private lesson is around $160 and will most likely be one hour.
You could start surfing for free if you can borrow everything from a friend. It can also be expensive if you’re willing to spend a lot. However, if you’re on a budget, you can get your wear and gear second-hand for under $500. That’ll get you started. Lessons are recommended but optional.
How much you invest in surfing is your own choice.
Many people start surfing for free by borrowing an old board from a friend, neighbor, or family member.
You probably already have some swimwear, and most people own sunscreen.
Let’s say that the board has not been used for a while, so you might want to wax it a bit, but even this could be free. But probably the person from whom you borrow the board has this for you as well.
Suppose you don’t know anyone with an old board they can lend you. Taking a few surf lessons can also be an excellent way to begin surfing.
Depending on the package and location, this might cost you $100 to $200. This will include everything you need to enjoy learning the basics.
At some point, you might realize that you really like surfing, and you want to continue. You obviously want to own your own wear and gear.
Although I can’t say how much it will cost to buy everything second-hand, I think you should be able to acquire everything for under $400.
This includes board (most second-hand boards come with fins and leash included), fins (check if they fit in the fin box of your board), leash, wetsuit/rash vest, surf wax, sunscreen, and board shorts.
Suppose you prefer the safety of buying everything new, with the guidance of the surf shop employee and possibly a warranty. In that case, the price will be a lot higher.
Using the average prices I’ve described before will be between $700 and $900. This means around $450 for your surfboard, $200 for your wetsuit, and about $150 for your fins, leash, wax, and sunscreen.
|Surfboard (beginner):||$250 to $600|
|Surfboard (professional):||$600 to $1200|
|Soft top (new):||$250 to $400|
|Soft top (second-hand):||$100|
|Surfboard (rent price):||$20 to $60|
|Wetsuit (rent price):||$20 to $40|
|Board wax:||$7 to $20|
|Board shorts:||$20 to $50|
|Rash vest:||$20 to $50|
Once you have all the equipment, there are just a few additional costs like reparations, transport, new gear if needed (due to progress or unrepairable damage), and miscellaneous like sunscreen and wax. If you live close to the beach and take care of your equipment, it won’t be expensive.
Once you have all the equipment and take good care of it, surfing won’t be very expensive.
Of course, if you don’t live near the beach, there will be some additional travel costs.
Furthermore, you’ll have to restock on surf wax and sunscreen every now and then.
Far out, the most significant expense will be reparations.
If you ding your board, break your leash, or destroy your fins. Fins and leashes can’t be repaired and will need replacement.
However, in most cases, a surfboard can be repaired.
The price of the reparation depends on the location of the damage and how severe the damage is. If you snap your board in two, bad luck!
Although you might be able to somewhat repair it, you’re better off buying a new board.
This is due to the extra weight that comes with board repairs and the fact that it stays a weak spot.
It’s important that you can trust your gear when you’re out in the ocean.
A ding repair generally costs between $40 and $200 depending on the area and seriousness of the damage.
There are many surf brands, shops, schools, and shapers. They make money by selling their products to the constantly increasing amount of surfers. Therefore it’s safe to say that all these surfers, estimated between 17 million and 35 million worldwide, find that surfing is worth the cost.
To me, the answer is an easy and definite “yes.”
I’ve met lots of amazing people, been to beautiful countries, have seen amazing beaches, kept my body fit, cleared my mind many times, and had lots of fun, all thanks to surfing.
But I’m not the only one who thinks that surfing is worth the expense. The number of surfers worldwide has increased exponentially over the last few decades.
This means that every one of these surfers (estimated between 17 million and 35 million worldwide) thinks that surfing is worth the cost.
Although many expensive surf brands sell boards, clothes, and miscellaneous for very high prices, not all of these products are needed to go out and surf.
Besides, there are also cheaper brand options and tricks to buy things less expensive.
Since there is no users fee on the ocean, and the waves are free, surfing can be a pretty cheap sport!