If you say ‘ride the waves’, people commonly think of surfing. Surfing is only one of several water sports that let you ride the surf. Whether for fitness or fun, riding the waves includes everything from riding along on towable tubes to paddleboarding.
This guide will break down some of the ways to get around on the water and the style of board/equipment that you will need for each. Don’t limit yourself to the type of fun you have on the water—get out there and explore!
How to Make the Most of Your Surf Sports
You don’t need much to enjoy a day out on the water. Whether you rent jet skis and use your inflatable tube or just grab your board for a simple day at the beach, you are sure to have a good time and get exercise while doing it. Many of these are also family sports, which are great for vacationing or just spending time together.
Below, you’ll find descriptions of some of the most common water sports, as well as some advice for getting started. Once you decide which sport you want to try and have bought the appropriate gear, you may want to consider extras. For example, if you are nearby a reef or a lake with fish, you can use a diving mask and snorkel to look underwater once you paddle out to the middle of the lake. Paddleboards are great because some have storage areas where you can place a cooler or fishing pole, letting you go out to another shore and have a picnic or paddle to the middle of the lake and fish.
Towable tubes can be used for a single person or a small group of people. One of the simplest designs is a donut-shaped ring, while others are shaped like food or giant animals. If you are trying to relax or have some fun splashing through the waves, you can kick back while someone else pulls the tube along.
Sizing aside, you should always consider how durable a tube is. The last thing that you want is to have your trip ruined because your inflatable keeps losing air or the ring used to attach the rope to the vehicle breaks. Quality towable tubes can last for years—which is good because they can become quite expensive.
One of the most useful features of a towable tube is a knuckle guard. You will need to hold on while riding, but the waves can leave your fingers sore or bruised after a long day out on the water. If you are planning a leisurely cruise, then a storage area for snorkeling gear or a small cooler with drinks can come in handy.
Equipment for doing a patch repair can also be beneficial. Even the sturdiest tubes can get a hole if you use the tubes in extremely choppy waters or areas where there may be rocks. This helps preserve your investment a little, though patches may not work if the towable tube.
Wakesurfing is a combination of wakeboarding and surfing. Like towable tubes, you hold onto a rope attached to a jet ski, motor boat, or another water vehicle. You stand on the wakesurf board as the water vehicle pulls you along. Wakesurf boards are unique because of the rails on the bottom, which help direct water flow and maintain your board’s path.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wakesurf Board
As you choose a wakesurf board, you’ll need to find one that improves your ride. You want something that will cruise smoothly on top of the waves, providing you with just enough stability to help you maintain your balance. Some things to consider are the style of the hull of the board, how wide it is, the shape of the tail, and the number of fins.
You will also need to consider the rail size, since beginners will benefit from a thick rail and expert riders might choose a thin rail that lets them jump waves and change direction quickly.
Paddleboarding can be equal parts relaxing and exhilarating. This water sport involves using a long, oar-like paddle to move through the water while standing on a board. One of the advantages of paddleboarding is that you create your own movement, even using them on a still lake.
Inflatable vs. Non-Inflatable SUPs
As you choose your stand-up paddleboard, you will have the option of one that is solid or one that inflates. Those that inflate are a little less durable than non-inflatables. However, they are more flexible. Non-inflatables are more likely to scratch or even break in half, because of their rigidity. Your paddleboarding style and whether you are experienced or a beginner may also affect your decision.
Bodyboards are significantly wider than traditional surfboards. Most riders use them to lie down and paddle themselves through the water. This requires a little less athletic ability than maintaining balance and the board can be used to catch waves and do tricks. This makes them perfect to have fun on for entire families, since even kids can easily maneuver a bodyboard of the right size.
The biggest deciding factor in choosing a good bodyboard is the size and shape. You want something appropriate for your weight without creating too much water resistance. The shape can also affect how quickly you slice through the water.
When you are using a bodyboard, you’ll need to kick your feet to propel yourself forward. The most effective way to do this is using bodyboard fins, since the small surface area of your feet does little to propel you through the resistance of the water as it hits your board. For bodyboard fins to be effective, they need to fit your foot well. You also want to be sure they are not rubbing your foot in a way that is painful.