6 Essentials Every New Surfer Needs To Have

Surfing is cool. You might even argue that ‘cool’ came from surfing. When you surf the waves, you are one with the flow of the ocean, and you constantly feel it.

It’s on many of our bucket lists, so if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to try out some surfing there are some essentials you need to have to have a safe and fun first experience, especially if you’re not familiar with being in the water. It’s also important to know your surfboard which is an essential element for a new surfer and that’s why recommended to check this article.

For your first try, you might want to borrow a friend’s equipment or try to rent some basic surf gear, but if you’re confident this is your passion then, by all means, invest in it! You don’t have to buy everything at once, and you can pace your purchases over time as you progress. 

Here is a list of essentials that details what you will need and what you should get first – on top of your board, of course.

A Leash

This is extremely important because this is what guarantees that you don’t lose your board.

When you fall off, you’ll stay tied to your board and it will also keep you safer by helping you rise back to the surface if you wipe out (get pushed off by a wave). When you fall, you’ll rise back up and find the board right next to you. Watch your head though, the last thing you want is to start bleeding, which will inevitably excite the sharks. 

A Personal Floatation Device

A personal floatation device is an essential item that is required by law on all watercraft in the United States.

No matter how good a swimmer you are, when you’re getting tossed around by the waves you want to have a floatation device to be able to rise back up as quickly as possible. The closer you are to the seabed, the more likely you are to scrape it or hit a rock, and that could be really bad. A reliable floatation device will save your life. 

Wax Or Traction Pads

You can’t surf without them. They ensure you keep your grip and don’t slide off the board- the wax by keeping the board dry, and the traction pads because they are designed to reduce slipping.

Traction pads are a bigger investment but can last years depending on how often you will surf. The wax is a more time-consuming option involving regular maintenance, as it typically needs to be reapplied every time you surf if you want to be sure not to slip.

A Wetsuit or Rash Guard (And Board Shorts)

There are three reasons you will want to have those.

The first is that you will be warmer if the water is cold, and the second that your skin will be protected from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The third advantage you’ll reap from wearing a rash guard or a wetsuit will – wait for it – protect you from the rashes you’ll get from rubbing against the waxed board or traction pad.

That’s something you really don’t want in saltwater. 

A Bag

To carry your board and keep it fresh. It’s best to give your board a rinse with fresh water before you store it away, so always keep that in mind if you want it to last. You can use it for travel, and to store away your stuff when you’re out surfing the waves.


It is recommended to use sunscreen regularly if you’re planning on being continually exposed to the sun. High SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreens will minimize UV exposure and prevent skin cancer.

Not only that, UVA rays, which do not cause your burns (UVBs do), will induce what is known as photoaging – a process by which your skin cells are degraded by the rays of the sun. Your body ‘remembers’ how much sun it has been under and we all have something known as a ‘solar capital’, which we need to be aware of.

The best sun protection is always cloth though, so don’t substitute your sunscreen for a wetsuit or rash guard, make sure you use both together. 

There are definitely more pieces of equipment you could use, like cameras and shark repellents – but these are really the basics. It is then for you to judge what you really need and what you can afford. There is a lot out there you can spend your money on, but it is really these essentials that will sort you out for your first time.