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If you are taking a beach vacation with the family and want to make sure that you can get into the water and enjoy yourself, then you will likely want to buy or rent a skimboard or a bodyboard. I have found that there is a lot of confusion about these two items, with many people not understanding how they are different or the same and when is the best time to use each. Read on to learn more about a skimboard vs bodyboard, when one is preferable over the other, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
What is Skimboarding?
Many people haven’t even heard of skimboarding before and don’t know that this is an option for getting out into the water and spending time on the waves. Skimboarding is performed much closer to shore than other water activities are and involves starting on the shore, rather than out in the water. People who are going to be skimboarding wait about twenty feet from the water with their board in hand for a wave to come in.
When they see the right wave, they will run at the ocean, dropping the board onto wet sand, and jumping onto it. Skimboarders then try to ride their board out into the water, bank off of an oncoming wave and then ride it back onto the beach. This tends to be very tricky and requires you to have the right equipment: a skimboard.
What to Know About a Skimboard
While they may resemble a surfboard, I have found that skimboards are very different from both surfboards and bodyboards. They are not nearly as stable as these other boards and require significant amounts of practice to be able to use one consistently. Skimboards have a specific manufacturing process that creates a very strong and reliable board that can be made with foam or wood, each with its own set of pros and cons.
Remember that smaller skimboards tend to be slower, while larger ones are generally much faster in the water. When looking for a skimboard, you also have to take into consideration the shape of the board, as this will play a huge role in how easily you can control it.
What is bodyboarding?
Bodyboarding involves taking the board out into the waves to ride on the water. While casual riders are generally more comfortable in the prone position while using a bodyboard, more advanced riders will stand up and look similar to a surfer. It’s important that you choose a bodyboard that is large enough to support your weight, not only when you are kneeling or standing on it, but also when you are paddling your way out into the water.
Unlike skimboarding, when you can start riding on your board on the sand and travel out into the ocean standing up, on a bodyboard you need to be prone on the board so that you can paddle into the ocean. Once in the ocean, you need to wait until a large enough wave comes so that you can ride it back to shore.
What to Know About a Bodyboard
I have found that a lot goes into choosing the right bodyboard for your use, and since there are so many different kinds on the market, it can be a little tricky to find the best one for your needs. Because the type of bodyboard that you will buy depends on your height, weight, and your skill level, it’s a good idea to work with a professional who can help you decide what board is the right one for you. Bodyboards generally come made with one of two types of material in the core, both of which can change the way that the board operates.
It’s also smart to look for a bodyboard that has a leash. If you fall in a wave and lose your board, then a leash is the best way to ensure that you can keep hold of it and won’t have to catch it before it gets pulled out to sea.
Choosing a Skimboard vs Bodyboard
It’s important that you understand what kind of activity you want to participate in before you go shopping for either a skimboard or a bodyboard. If you are uncomfortable paddling out into the ocean, then you will benefit from giving skimboarding a try, but if you want to try to catch a bigger wave and ride it in, then bodyboarding may be the better choice for you.
I found that choosing the right skimboard is important so that you can have the best possible chance of doing well. If you are going to be sticking close to the beach and aren’t interested in trying to get on a wave at all, then you will benefit from a heavier and stiffer wood skimboard. On the other hand, users who want to try to skimboard in deeper water will find that a wood board will sink too quickly and will benefit from using one that is made out of foam instead.
With bodyboards, consider not only the material of the board itself, but also the design and shape of the board, as these will play a huge role in not only how well you do out on the water, but also what speed you are able to achieve. You will also need to consider the water temperatures, so you may need a wetsuit or at least a rash guard. There are many factors to consider when buying a bodyboard, which is why I recommend working with a professional, as beginners can easily become overwhelmed when considering and comparing boards based on the rail, the wide point, the thickness, and the rocker.
If you aren’t sure whether you want to skimboard or bodyboard the next time you are at the beach, then I hope that this will help you to make a decision. Both are very fun activities and a great way to spend time in the water working on fun tricks. Bodyboarding is ideal for people who want to be in deeper water and are interested in surfing, while skimboarding seems to be faster-paced and closer to the sand, which many people find to be ideal.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.