Surfing vs. Kitesurfing: What Is the Difference?

Surfing and kitesurfing are two of the most popular watersports known to mankind. While they might seem very similar to an average Joe, there are more things about the two that need a closer look.

While both of these activities are done on the water, it’s safe to say that the comparison ends there. There are more nuances involved in both surfing and kitesurfing that need an even closer look.

By the end of this article, you will have enough knowledge about what makes them similar and what makes them different. Helping you decide which activity resonates with you is a very rewarding experience, so take a journey and find out what it takes to learn the sport.

Are you a wave rider or a wind cruiser? It’s time to find out.

Equipment and Gear

Surfing essentials are as basic as they can be. All you need is your surfboard and its fins, a leash, and some surf wax, and you’re ready to shred. However, if surfing in colder climates, having a quality wetsuit is a game-changer. 

As for kitesurfing, expect to haul more stuff. For starters, you would need the basic kitesurfing equipment like your kite and board, harness, spreader, and kite control bar, to name a few. As your confidence grows, expect to buy gloves and boots, helmets, and portable kits.

How much does it cost to Surf/Kitesurf?

If there’s one thing that surfing vs. kitesurfing has a distinct winner on, it’s the cost of equipment. If you are on a budget, surfboards come at entry-level prices. Sadly, kitesurfing requires more equipment, and the lessons ain’t cheap, either.

Complete surf gear would cost you between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars. As for kitesurfing gear, prepare to shell out a minimum of $2,000 bucks.

Skills and Techniques

Cruising the waves on a surfboard requires balance and agility. The more you get to master your form, the more skills and techniques you can learn. Techniques like the bottom turn, cutback, and foam climb are important in a surfer’s arsenal.

Kitesurfing, on the other hand, requires a different set of skills that focuses more on verticality because of the wind. As for techniques, toesides, back and front rolls are some of the most common techniques that wind riders have in their toolkit.

Learning Curve

Surfing tends to be more challenging for people who struggle with balance. Kitesurfing, on the other hand, might not be the best for people who are afraid of heights and speed. However, both of these watersports can be learned if you’re really interested in it.

Ride Feel

Surfing heavily relies on the quality of waves. Assuming the waves are ideal, imagine gliding along the waves while performing some tricks along the way. Nothing beats the experience of riding your first wave.  

As for kitesurfing, knowing when the conditions are extra windy is the difference between an okay session and an awesome one. Assuming that the conditions are ideal, imagine being blown away by powerful winds as you perform adrenaline-pumping tricks.

Safety Precautions

Since surfing and kitesurfing are watersport activities, both have equally higher risks. For surfers, knowing when and how to surf safely is very important. Being mindful of large waves, rip currents, as well as your surroundings is very important.

Due to the extreme nature of kitesurfing, following the safety protocols has always been enforced to minimize the risks presented in the sport. Something as simple as mishandling the kite can immediately turn things upside down. 

Culture and Community

Surfing culture has been stronger and more vibrant than ever before. It’s arguably one of the most diverse and cultural sports in the world. In fact, some people treat surfing as a lifestyle. The surf culture is a family like no other, and it’s something you should experience at least once.

While kitesurfing may not be as popular as surfing, its popularity has been on a constant rise thanks to a handful of pro athletes who make the sport look good. The community may not be as big as the surfing community, but give it time, and this niche will continue to grow.

Health and Fitness Perks

There are several qualities that both benefit surfers and kitesurfers. If you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health, balance, flexibility, and core strength, as well as your mental health, then both watersports can greatly benefit you.

If you are worried about injuries, on the other hand, kitesurfing is known to cause more risks due to several factors such as mishandling of the kite and unexpected equipment defects that happen during the session.

Pros and Cons of Surfing

Here are the two sides of surfing.

The Good: Being one with nature. Great for physical and mental fitness. Very solid and supportive culture. Variation of boards to try. It's a great way to improve balance and concentration while maintaining fitness levels.

The Bad: Easy to learn, but hard to master. Requires physical fitness and knowledge of reading variable wave conditions. The competition can be quite fierce since plenty of people around the world are surfing.

Pros and Cons of Kitesurfing

Here are the two sides of kitesurfing.

The Good: Adrenaline-pumping fun. Stress-reliever. Capable of performing more dynamic jumps and techniques. Celebrating and hanging out with people of the same interests. Boosts your self-confidence.

The Bad: Harder to master due to its steeper learning curve. Highly dependent on wind activity. Requires more complex equipment as your skill and technique improve. Greater risk of injury regardless of proficiency.


Do you feel like surfing is better than kitesurfing, or vice-versa? At the end of the day, what’s important is being able to go out and enjoy the sun, nature, and the people. While both activities require extensive practice, the way to get there is both fun and painful.

Surfing and kitesurfing are two unique activities that can greatly benefit your physical and mental well-being. While surfing aims to provide a soulful connection between man and waves, kitesurfing is made for thrill-seekers and speed freaks.

If you have the time and resources to try both, then it’s a no-brainer. Having the right techniques and skills to master both watersports requires tremendous discipline and determination. Do you have what it takes to conquer both?

Surf Spots

Written by Surf Spots

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