Surfing vs. Skateboarding: What Is the Difference?

The surfing vs. skateboarding debate is about two of the most iconic board sports in the history of mankind. Both the skate and surf cultures have a tremendous following worldwide, where the pros are almost treated as demigods because of their unique styles and skills.

Despite being completely different, these two sports have always been compared, and for good reason. Both sports have captivated pop culture thanks to their fast-paced, high-octane action happening every second. So, is one extreme sport better than the other?

This article will do its best to define skating and surfing, from equipment to the pros and cons and everything in between. Hopefully, you will get a better idea of which board sport resonates better for you.

Equipment and Gear

In surfing, buying your first board is a very important investment. Deciding what size and width of the board is crucial. Additional tools like the leash, wax, and some wetsuits are also important. All of these items can cost a lot of cash.

Skateboard equipment, on the other hand, is very affordable, especially when you compare it to surfing stuff. However, expect to replace your deck, trucks, wheels, and bearings on a regular basis. As for apparel, anything goes as long as you have nice skate shoes.

How much does it cost?

A brand new basic surf equipment would cost around $1,300 to $1,500 bucks. If you’re not picky, you can opt for used items and save more. For skateboarding, the cheapest board you can get is around $50 bucks. But if you want one assembled, expect around 100-200 bucks.

Skills and Techniques

There are plenty of similarities between surfing and skateboarding. For starters, there are plenty of tricks and techniques being used by both sports such as frontside and backside tricks. If you are familiar with one, then transferring the skills to the other shouldn’t take a long time.

As soon as skaters learn how to drop in, they’re already ready to experience what surfing can offer.

Learning Curve

Surfing is one of the hardest board sports to learn. This is due to the different phases happening in the sport. From paddling to getting up on the board and riding the wave, these techniques take a long time to familiarize and learn.

Learning how to skate is both easy and painstakingly difficult as you become better at the board. From flip tricks, manuals, and grinds to landing air tricks, there are just so many complexities and nuances in this sport that’s for you to discover.

Ride Feel

Surfing on waves can both be smooth as butter, or rigid as a poorly-constructed road. Your surfboard also plays a role in control, comfort, and stability. Feel the intensity of the water, whether you’re standing or proning while waiting for the next wave. 

With skateboarding, almost every part of the board can be fine-tuned so it can behave exactly how you want it. If you enjoy carving or prefer stability, all you need is a few adjustments. Nevertheless, you will feel the texture of the road as you cruise along.

Safety Precautions

Surfing is arguably one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Drowning, concussions, and other common injuries are just some of the risks associated with every session. To make matters worse, marine life encounters are also a common occurrence. 

As for skateboarding, it’s very normal to see these people throwing themselves in danger without any protective equipment. Unfortunately, it’s part of the culture. Wearing pads and helmets in skate parks can cause ridicule and scrutiny on your end.

Culture and Community

The surf and skate culture are two of the biggest communities in board sports. They have been so influential that they have been part of pop culture for quite some time. While the skate culture is more on the notorious side, the community as a whole is very welcoming to newbies.

The surf culture, on the other hand, has a more inclusive approach to everyone. If you are curious about the sport, these people will be willing to talk to you for hours on end about why you should give it a try. 

Health and Fitness Perks

Surfing and skateboarding are very similar in terms of using certain muscle groups. The only notable difference is the use of arms in surfing. Surfers have to paddle most of the time to position themselves with the best waves.

While skateboarding also offers a full-body workout, most of the time you are using your lower body to generate power and speed. While you get more intensity in surfing, skating for an extended period of time can produce similar results.

Pros and Cons of Surfing

The Good: One of the best sports that make you feel alive. Has better health perks than skating. Remarkable community and culture worldwide that’s filled with deep-rooted traditions and customs.

The Bad: Intense learning curve for beginners. Wetsuits and surfboards can be quite expensive, even for mid-tier products. There’s always a chance of injuries and fatalities whenever you’re in the water. 

Pros and Cons of Skateboarding

The Good: A very passionate and lively culture. One of the best ways to show creativity and expression. Very affordable and replaceable parts. Has plenty of techniques to learn. Provides an alternative way to explore the city. It's a great cardiovascular workout. 

The Bad: Very limited playing options (skate parks or urban places). Plenty of places and establishments prohibit skateboarding. Injuries are so common and can be bone-shattering. Some communities can be toxic. 


There’s no reason to pit skateboarding and surfing because both cultures co-exist with each other. Both have their good and bad sides, their cult-like followings, and never-ending merchandise.

Being part of both communities is truly amazing. You’ll also be surprised to know that plenty of surfers skate, and vice versa. There’s really no harm in trying both at the same time. In fact, skateboarding can help improve your balance even more.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to what you want to do, how you feel about the chosen board sport, and how that experience will change your life. Are you one with the ocean, or are you a member of the concrete jungle?

Surf Spots

Written by Surf Spots

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