Most surfers have their first surfing experience atop a huge colorful foamie. You’ve probably seen these squishy boards out in the water; they’re the staple beginner surfboard and have provided many incredible memories. Once these new surfers master standing up on the squishy log, they graduate to their next board—their first “real” board.
Deciding how to pick the perfect surfboard is challenging. You have to balance many different factors from weight to skill level to conditions of your local surf spots.
Often, new surfers will be attracted to the mini-mal or funboard. Mini-mals (or mini Malibu's), are smaller longboards that are designed for a great ride on gentler waves. It’s the perfect balance of performance and rideability that fits these new surfers.
To help find your next surfboard, we’ve put together the best mini-mal surfboard review.
Our Favorite Picks
#1 Best Overall: South Bay Board Co - 6’8” Casper
#2 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Pro EZ Rider
#3 Wavestorm 8' Surfboard
#4 Bic Sport - G-Board EVO
What Is a Mini-Mal Surfboard?
The mini-mal surfboard is a type of boards designated somewhere between longboards and shortboards. They’ve gained popularity to their versatility, size, and being perfect for any conditions in the Southern California region (which is notorious for their sometimes flat summers).
Usually ranging from 6’8 to 8’6 in length, these boards still provide a lot of stability to their riders, while allowing surfers room for improvement. When choosing the best template for yourself, take into consideration that this type of board is great for learning how to turn and catch speed on a wave. And they can even be used, once the rider improves, to hang ten.
Top 4 Best Mini-Mal Surfboards
Our #1 Pick - South Bay Board Co - 6’8” Casper
The best mini-mal surfboard for sale right now is the South Bay Casper. This board is a high performance funboard that comes with a wax-free top grip, thruster fins, and everything you need for a great ride.
The mini-mal surfboard dimensions are 6’8 by 21” by 2.75”, giving it a 45 L volume. It has a soft foam top with a hard fiberglass bottom, offering a hybrid performance between the two materials.
This board can be used for tiny groms and grommets wanting to learn on their first small longboard. It can also hold up to 220lbs making it a great funboard for experienced veterans who need a board for those small summer swells.
#2 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Pro EZ Rider
The Wave Bandit EZ Rider has the classic mini-mal surfboard shape with a rounded nose and blunt cut-off tail. It comes in six different sizes, two of which could be considered in the mini-mal surfboard template.
The two mini-mal sizes are:
7’ by 22” by 3.125”
8' by 23" by 3.375"
They are a model of surfboards by Catch Surf, which is known for making phenomenal soft-top surfboards. They come with dual wood stringers and a composite core for a stiff, unbreakable surfboard.
These boards have been certified fresh by the legendary Ben Gravy, making them great for both learning and shredding waves.
#3 Wavestorm 8' Surfboard
The infamous Wavestorm is the number one seen board out in the water. It is synonymous with beginner surfers, because it offers exactly what you’re looking for when you’re just starting out. Coming in at 8’ by 22.5” by 3.25”, this board will be able to hold surfers up to about 200lbs.
With the wide flat midsection, you’ll have no problem popping up on one of these boards. Turning will come with a learning curve as this board is very heavy to maneuver on the water. To assist this, the board has a back stomp pad in which to help steer.
The board comes with a triple stinger system and a strong EPS core to give you the stiff surfboard feel with the squish that beginners love. If you’re looking for a mini-mal surfboard for beginners, this is it.
#4 Bic Sport - G-Board EVO
The Big Sport G-Board comes in four different model sizes from 5’6 to 9’. The 7-footer and 8-footer both have the mini-mal surfboard design with the wide nose and flat cut-off tail.
Because of its classic shape this will be a great board for smaller swells and learning how to surf. It comes with two reinforced wood stringers for stiffness and strength. It’s a lightweight board that will give you that mini-mal surfboard performance.
Mini Mal Surfboard Size Guide
Finding the right sized mini-mal surfboard means taking into account your own size and skill level. As you improve you either go shorter to be more maneuverable or longer to increase the range of waves you can ride. For picking out a board, here’s an easy to remember size-to-weight ratio:
< 100 lbs, go for a 6’8 mini-mal
100 - 150lbs, go for a 6’8 to 7’6 mini-mal
150 - 200lbs, go for a 7’3 to 8’0 mini-mal
> 200lbs, go for an 8’ mini-mal or above.
Mini Mal Surfboard Brands
Catch Surf - Born and raised in San Clemente, CA, Catch Surf is known in the community as the Soft-top King. In the last ten years Catch Surf has poured resources into soft-top technology, reshaping the way foam boards ride and reshaping the way people think about foam. It used to be that foam surfboard were for beginners and transitioning to fiberglass came with experience. Now though, with support from surfers like Jamie O’Brien, Kalani Robb, and Taj Burrow, riding a Catch Surf foam is the same as riding any hard-top on the market.
BIC Sports - These surfboards hold a lot of history in the beginner surfboard community. They’re a French surfboard manufacturer that focuses on durability and performance, while keeping the price at a manageable level. Their mission is to make surfing accessible to anyone. And they keep that message alive by sponsoring up-and-coming surf competitions in France for young surfers trying to get their name out there.
NSP - Another name you’ve probably heard if you’ve asked around for what board you should buy for a beginner. NSP has been around since 2001 and had a simple motto in mind for creating their perfect surfboard. They wanted a board you could throw in the back up a pick-up truck, leave out in the sun all day, and then take it out to the beach and have a great ride. What’s resulted is a brand of boards perfect for schools, clubs, and beginners. These boards are great for crashing into the sand and crashing into each other, which happens from time to time.
Wavestorm - The ominous Wavestorm, Costco’s surf child. The Wavestorm must be the most common brand you see out in the water because it’s a quality mini-mal that’s rideable by all and it comes as a cheap alternative. Plus, Costco just has that buyer-trust built in. If anything goes wrong, you know you can return it no questions asked. The Wavestorm is stereotypically for beginners, and that stereotype is there for a reason. It’s durable, cheap, fun, and easy to learn on.
Mini Mal vs Funboard
These two groups of boards are often used synonymously. Funboards are generally around 6-8 feet, have less focus on maneuverability and speed, and more emphasis on riding around and having fun. With a funboard you can turn and cut through sections and maybe even sneak in a little hang ten session if the wave is right.
Mini mals are usually categorized a little taller (up to 8’6). They are designed after their Malibu forefathers and they function much like a smaller longboard. Other than that, either of these boards will be great for beginners who want to learn. And veteran surfers will get a kick out of riding either of these fun boards on small waves when there’s not much going on.
Mini Mal vs Longboard
While a mini mal has to confine itself into a specific category, a longboard is just, well, a longboard. A longboard is anything that’s not a shortboard. Typically above seven feet is considered a longboard, which can rise up to about 14 feet. Mini mals are just one subsection of longboards.
Mini mals, because they’re on the smaller range of longboards, will typically be lighter and easy to carry. This can make a huge difference when you’re surfing at a spot like Trestles, where the parking lot is a small hike away from the beach.
How To Surf a Mini-Mal
Surfing a mini-mal is no different than riding any other board. You have to learn the pop-up, practice balance, and slowly learn how to turn. For those who are thinking, Hey! it’s not that simple, here are some tips to get you started.
Practice on the shore - Before you try popping up on a rocky wave, try getting the motion down on the sand. Place your board flat on the sand and get on top of it. Try to place yourself closer to the middle of the board than the back. From here, put your hands flat beneath your shoulders. And in one motion, push up with your hands, throw your hips up in the air, and curl your feet beneath your body. This might take some stretching to get all the parts moving right.
Test out your skills on whitewash - Whitewash is the rocky foam of the wave after it has crashed. These are perfect for the second step of learning. Now you can take your pop-up and test it out on a wave that’s moving. This will help get the motion to feel more natural.
Paddle out on a small day - When the waves aren’t big and you feel comfortable popping up, it’s time to paddle out and surf with the rest of the lineup. For your first time it might help to go with a friend away from the crowds. This way, you don’t have to worry about running into anybody.
Learn the rules of priority - If two surfers are about to ride the same wave, who has priority? Depending on which way the wave is going to crash, the person who is closest to the crashing part has priority. A simple call of “Left” or “Right” is a simple way to avoid confusion. If there is no clear direction the wave is going to crash (it’s what’s known as an A-frame wave), then as long as you call which way you’re riding, there should be no problem. If you’re ever in doubt, let this one go and take the next wave!
Wax your board / Wear your leash - Always wax your board so that your feet don’t immediately slip when you pop-up. And more importantly, always, always, always, wear your leash. Especially when you’re just starting to learn, your board will get away from you many times. To avoid having a thirty pound blunt object flying toward shore, keep the leash attached to your dominant foot (the foot that is placed behind you when you stand on the board).
Our #1 Pick - SOUTH BAY BOARD CO - 6’8” CASPER