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Visited the beach and you’ll see bodyboarders riding the waves. Typically you’ll see young children or adults riding whitewater in the shallow surf, but don’t be confused, bodyboarding is a legitimate sport that can applied to big surf, alongside surfers.
In this article I’ll cover the basics of bodyboarding and we’ll answer some questions about the sport as well. Lastly I’ll recommend some quality bodyboard options available for beginners, intermediate, or advanced riders.
I’ll even share the best bodyboards for big guys!
Growing up as a Bodyboarder
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I spent a lot of my youth at the beach in California. Every time I visited my grandparents in Southern California we spent our days at Ventura Beach.
Later, when I was at university, I spent my weekends (and weekdays) at Mission Beach in San Diego. Some of my best memories are with family and friends at the beach.
A bodyboard was one of the first beach gifts I received as a kid. It was the perfect gift for a young boy because it didn’t take a lot of skill to use. However, I must admit that it does take a lot of practice to use it well.
Even though I was a good swimmer, I began using it in the shallow surf simply for fun. I would lay on the board, kick my feet and catch small waves that carried me to the beach. Those were fun and simple times!
As I grew to be a teenager I still used the same bodyboard, but I was brave enough to venture into the depths and ride bigger waves. I still remember the green and rainbow colored Morey Boogieboard that I learned on. I rode some great waves at Ventura Beach and had some epic rides. A few memorable wipeouts as well.
Although I never became an expert bodyboarder I did have a great time using my board. In my opinion a bodyboard is the perfect gift for young beach goers because it’s relatively simple to use and it’s a lot of fun.
What Are Bodyboards: How are they different from skimboards, surfboards, and paddleboards?
First things first, let’s clear up something that often confused me. Is it called a bodyboard or boogieboard?
Growing up, I asked this question and I never received a straight answer. Bodyboarding and boogieboarding are actually the same thing.
A bodyboard is a general term for laying on or riding a small board in the water. Bodyboarding likely originated in Polynesia where people would ride on a board laying on their stomach or kneeling.
The term boogieboard came about with Tom Morey’s invention of the boogieboard. Basically, Tom Morey commercialized the board into a catchy new product called the boogieboard.
While skimboards, surfboards, and paddle boards are larger and usually ridden standing up, the bodyboard is relatively compact and is ridden laying or kneeling.
For people who aren’t athletic enough to jump to a standing position on a board, a bodyboard is a great alternative. Also, bodyboards can easily fit in the back seat of a car. There is no need for a roof rack or a truck to transport the board.
Another plus is that bodyboarding works well for beginners and advanced riders. Surfing and skimboarding take quite a bit of skill to get the hang of, however, children can play with a bodyboard in the shallow water and enjoy riding the whitewash.
Related: Best Skimboards for the Beach
Pros of Bodyboarding
- Easy to use and learn (especially compared to surfing or skimboarding)
- Lazy person’s wave riding (laying down)
- Sizing: same board works for younger and older riders
- Can become a highly competitive sport
- Big air, more tricks
- Bodyboards are more durable, last longer
- Easy transport!
What Type of Bodyboard Should I Buy
There are 3 main types of bodyboards. They may look similar from the outside, however it’s important to know what’s in the core of the board.
EPS (Extruded Polystyrene)
- Stiff and water resistant
- Lightweight for beginners
- Stiff and fast
- Less good with turns compared to polyethylene
- Good warmer waters
- Cold water
- Not as fast as polypropylene
- Good for turns
Beginners should find a board that has a wide nose. It should help you control the board better.
Quality bodyboards will also have a “power rod” that goes down the center of the board, the rod is usually some form of carbon composite and creates a stronger, more durable board, perfect for big wave riding.
Note: If you are an amateur bodyboarder, the type of the board is less important. The first thing you should do it get out there and learn to ride. Once you become a moderate-advanced bodyboarder you can find a board specific to your needs and environment.
Related: Best Beach Chairs Under $50
Once again, the sizing recommendations below apply more-so to the intermediate to advanced rider. Beginning riders or people who visit the beach 1 or 2 times per year can utilize a basic board that works for them.
A board 40-43″ can work for almost all bodyboarders. Big guys will want a larger board 42-44″.
Once you get to the advanced stage, the possibilities are endless. You can move fast, catch barrels, do flips and spins, and you can even get airborne much higher than surfers can. Here are some more tips and tricks for bodyboarding.
Check out this video from the professionals below:
Best Bodyboard Companies on the Market
- Mike Stewart
- No. 6
- Custom X
- California Board Company
9 Best Bodyboards for the Beach (Reviewed)
Budget Kids Bodyboards
No. 1 NMD Storm Bodyboard
NMD makes stylish board that young riders will enjoy using at the beach. This Storm bodyboard has a higher price point than the other beginner boards on our list, but it also has more personality.
The colors and designs are better presented in blues, reds, and yellows. NMD has 2 board sizes as well: 42.5 and 45 inch.
- 2 sizes 42. 5 and 45 inch
- 3 colors with added designs
- Leash included
- EPS foam and slick bottom
- Larger riders and kids
Like the boards mentioned above NMD Storm is made with an EPS core foam and slick bottom. It also comes with a leash which is a nice add-on accessory.
Reviewers comment that the board is great for kids AND adults, and the board is well-priced against other competitors and rides bigger waves well.
No. 2 Own the Wave – ‘Beach Attack Pack’ – WAVE WEAPON
The Beach Attack Pack – Wave Weapon is a lightweight board made from an EPS core. It comes in 3 sizes; 33, 37, 41 inches.
It has bottom rear channels and a crescent tail to help with comfort and performance. The Wave Weapon bodyboard comes in 3 colors and with a handy leash and fin saver as well.
- 3 sizes – 33,37, 41 inches
- 3 colors – blue, green, pink
- Instructions for care
- Leash and fin tethers
- 1 year manufacturers warranty
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- EPS core – soft board style
This company is in business to provide affordable fun. If fun is all your looking for the board may be good fit for you.
I like that the board has a “family business” guarantee. If you aren’t happy with the purchase the bodyboard will be replaced or refunded and the manufacturer’s warranty is for 12 months!
The board comes with handy instructions to help you care for the board and install the leash and use the fin tethers. Reviewers comment on the “excellent customer service” and “good quality for the price”.
No. 3 California Board Company MMAG Bodyboard
The California Board Company makes solid bodyboards for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders. This MMAG board is 44 inches, perfect for taller riders.
It offers a design that fits you body with: molded contour deck, arm wells, thumb bulbs to help with control, and a crescent tail design for added comfort/control.
- Good company, beginners board
- 44″ – larger riders
- 4 lbs and 2.9 x 22.5 x 44 inches
- Contoured board for performance and comfort
- EPS core and slick bottom
- Colors vary
It is made with a waterproof EPS core and a high density polyethylene slick bottom to assist with faster riding. The MMAG weighs 4 lbs and measures 2.9 x 22.5 x 44 inches. This board includes a wrist leash.
Reviews the the California Board Company are great with almost 100 reviews and an awesome average rating. A few of the comments mention the size for bigger riders, the cost for quality, and others have come back to buy another board.
A few negative commenters mentioned the front seam opening and there was less floatation than expected. All-in-all I think this is a good bang for your buck and a good choice for a beginner.
Quality Mid-Range Bodyboards
No. 1 Morey Mach 7 42″ Bodyboard
Morey Boogie Boards! Growing up, I had a Morey boogieboard. I still remember the green and rainbow coloring on it. It provided years of fun for my whole family. This Morey Mach 7 is probably the best selling board of all time. Yes, I said best of all time and I’m not exaggerating.
- Best selling board of all time (serious)!
- 42″ board
- Kids and adults (5’9″-6′ and 160-180 lbs)
- Colors vary, but the quality is excellent
- HDPE with power rod for support in larger waves
This board is a 42″ made from HDPE (high density polyethylene) with a slick bodyboard bottom and power rod through the middle of the board. These types of feature are what distinguish good boards from the beginner board mentioned in the prior section.
This board performs best for average size and weight riders (160-180 lbs and 5’9″-6′ feet tall). On amazon the colors vary, so if you want this high-quality board to be open to a variety of nice colors.
Higher-quality boards usually don’t come with a leash, so in this case you’ll want to buy a leash separately. If you’re buying for someone who knows the beach and boards, then they will be extremely please with this board – take my word for it!
Reviewers say the board is beefy (4.2 lbs) and feels strong and durable. The commenters also mentioned superior quality and brand recognition. I like this board and if I had to buy one today for myself or as a gift, this would be my pick!
No. 2 Empire Makai Bodyboard
I’m torn about whether I should include Empire’s Makai board on the mid-range list simply because it’s made out of EPS core. A quick comparison to the Morey board above and you realize quickly that Morey is far superior. This board however isn’t bad and offers 4 sizes 36, 39, 42.5, and 45.
- 5 lbs
- 4 sizing options (36, 39, 42.5, 45)
- EPS core and smooth bottom
It weighs 5 lbs and has a slick bottom for more speed. Empire is a good board company with a positive reputation in the industry and this board should be sufficient for beginner-intermediate riders.
23 reviews give this bodyboard a solid rating with most buyers purchasing for their children or as a gift. People like the color, the smooth bottom surface and the fact it holds up over time.
If you’re looking for a decent board with size options, this is a good pick. If you’re looking for a true intermediate-advanced board, check out the Morey and Custom X on the mid-range list
No. 3 Custom X Titan XPE Crescent Tail Bodyboard
Ok, now we’re back to a high-quality board. This Custom X ranks well with the Morey Mach 7 board above.
It features a slick bottom with channels for more control and a logo, rail, and color assortment that should satisfy your style. This board is made from a polyethylene core and a wave-plank center.
- Higher quality board
- 5 sizes 41, 42, 43, 44, 45
- Double rails, crescent tail
- Slick bottom with channels
- Polyethylene core
Aspects of this board that I like are in the design: 50/50 template, double rails 60/40 and a crescent tail. The board comes in 5 sizes (41, 42, 43, 44, 45). 41-43″ have a single stringer while 44-45″ have double stringers.
Given this is a better board, you’ll need to buy a separate leash of your choice. Keep in mind that the photos shown are the cover, so there is no printing picture on the top of the board, just the logo.
Quality High-End Bodyboards
No. 1 Bodyboards Deuce 40 CT
No. 6 makes top of the line boards out of Irvine, California. The Deuce 40 lives up to the brand by offering multiple colors including turquoise, lemon, midnight blue, and black. The rails are black as are the bottoms.
- Multiple colors available
- Polypropylene inner
- 2x carbon fiber stringer
- x filament mesh layer
- Nose bulbs, channels, and clipped crescent tail
- Combo set with leash included (fatty leash)
No. 6 has proprietory boards in that they use a blend of polypropylene core, molded with 2 times carbon fiber stinger set and an X filament mesh layer (sounds high-tech right?).
The bottom uses a slick Surlyn cover to glide you through the water at high speeds. Similar to other top-of-the-line boards, No. 6 Deuce has nose bulbs, channels, and clipped crescent tail.
All of the Deuce models come with the combo set, ready to place the leash where the rider needs. The “fatty” is the name of No. 6’s leash that goes on the bicep. Don’t be confused by the lack of reviews for this product, No. 6 is one of the best bodyboards on the market!
No. 2 Manta Phantom Crescent Tail 44 Bodyboard
Manta is another premium board maker from NSW, Australia. Their boards offer the high quality, polyethylene core with 2 stringers for added support. The outer layer is HDPE that covers a slick bottom and crescent tail.
- 44 inches
- HD polyethylene
- 2 stringers for support on big waves
- Nose rails, bumpers, channels, and XPS leash
- Limited color options
- 90 day limited warranty
It features 2 bulbs, nose rails, bumpers, nose and tail channels, and an XPS leash. I like this board because it’s the top of the line. The color options leave a bit to improve however the performance of the board is what really matters right?
The Manta Phantom weights 8 lbs. (shipping weight) measures 44 x 23 x 6 inches and the limited warranty on this board is 90 days. Once again, there are a lack of reviews for the board, but the company is an industry leader and the components of the boar are top notch.
No. 3 BZ The Big Buddha Body and Boogie Board (Best for Big Guys)
The founder of BZ once worked with Morey Boogie as a rider. Eventually, he left to create his own brand and the BZ was made! The Big Buddha is much like the name. It’s for bigger riders (adults) and uses a polypropylene center (means it’s great for speed).
The BZ bodyboard uses a dual strip that supports the inner of the board, providing flexibility and rigidity that is needed for good performance.
- Polypropylene center
- Dual strip inner for support and flexibility
- Nose grip, crescent tail, bottom slick, bumpers, cushion air.
- 45″ x 23″
- Random colors
- 4.4 lbs
The Big Buddha features a nose grip, crescent tail, bottom slick bulbs, nose and tail bumpers, and a wave cushion air deck. This board is 45″ x 23″ wide and ships randomly with Aztec-blue, black or yellow.
I like the board because of the quality and the simple yet class look. I’m 6’3 so the board would be ideal for me and I wouldn’t have to worry about its durability. This is probably the best bodyboard for big guys.
You’ll want a leash with this board and can watch youtube instructional videos to put it on. Reviews say this board is perfect for the guys weighing 200+, is easy to use, and good customer service through amazon.
Section 4 – Accessories
STORM’ Coiled PRO Body Board Wrist Leash
As mentioned in the reviews, many of the cheaper boards include a bodyboard package with a leash included. Once you get to intermediate to advanced boards, the boards are customizable with leashes not included.
Don’t worry, leashes are relatively easy to install but if you’re purchasing a good quality board you’ll want a leash so you don’t loose your board at sea.
The Storm Coiled Pro is a heavy duty 4 foot leash priced affordably. The cuff is comfortable, uses velcro to attach and will not tangle with you while riding. Surfing leashes aren’t too complicated and this is one of the better reviewed products on amazon. 185 customers give the leash a perfect rating. This a a great choice as an add-on bodyboard accessory.
Creatures of Leisure Fin Savers, Black
The more advanced you become in bodyboarding the more reason you’ll need fin savers. Kids who play in the ocean white wash won’t really need fin savers, however once you graduate to the waves you’ll want more power and control and fins will help you dramatically.
Unfortunately, fins are often lost in waves. Fin savers attache to the ankle and fin so you won’t lose them. Creatures of Leisure, an Australia-based company makes excellent fin savers for a bargain price. Around 100 customer reviews say the fin savers are excellent. the are neoprene, heavy duty, velcro adjustable with no drag. These would be a great gift for someone who really enjoys bodyboarding.
How to Bodyboard
Remember your first swim lessons? I bet one of your first training exercises was using a small foam board that you held onto and practiced kicking. A bodyboard is like that, only a bit larger.
When riding, you usually hold onto the front of the bodyboard or the sides and rest your stomach on the board. Most bodyboards use a leash, which connects to your wrist. Using a leash helps you keep the board close in case a wave pulls it away from you.
Leaning from one side to another helps direct the board and so does the position of your feet. Using your feet you can create drag, use them as a rudder, or kick them quickly to catch waves.
Once you master the shallow waters you can move out to larger waves. Before doing this, I’d recommend trying bodysurfing (which uses only your body) to learn to gauge and ride waves.
Bodysurfing will give you the feel for the breaks and teach you how to ride a wave. When you begin using a board, you will accelerate through the water. Advanced bodyboarders also use fins to help catch waves and have better control.
Related: Best Paddle Boards for the Beach
In this article we covered more than just the best bodyboards for the beach, we touched on the basics, types of boards, and the best brands of boards too. We broke down the reviews into 4 sections.
I hope you found a board that suits your needs. Also consider the accessories I mentioned because some boards don’t come with a leash, even less-so fin savers.