Can You Bodyboard With a Skimboard? (&What Is The Difference)

When non-surfers head down to the beach, you will often hear them speaking of bodyboarding, skimboarding, and surfing as the same thing.

Although there are similarities, these three sports are further apart than they are similar, even down to the boards that are used.

So Can You Bodyboard With a Skimboard?

It is possible to interchange a bodyboard with a skimboard, but to do this is not safe and will require very specific conditions.

Let’s take a look at the difference between skimboards and bodyboards, and why skimboards will underperform when used for bodyboarding.

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Can You Bodyboard With a Skimboard?

Is Bodyboarding the Same as Skimboarding?

Bodyboarding is not the same as skimboarding.

Yes, both are water sports, can be practiced in the ocean, and include riding ocean waves.

This, however, is where the two sports take a drastic turn in opposite directions.

One of the biggest differences between bodyboarding and skimboarding (apart from the boards) is the style of riding.

Skimboards are used to “skim” the surface of the water. 

This means it can be done in as little as a few inches of water.

Skimboarding can include wave riding, but this is always a beach break and not far from shore.

Bodyboarding, on the other hand, requires you to paddle out into the breaking waves.

Bodyboarding is usually (but not always) done in the prone position, whereas skimboarding is done standing.

Another big difference is the way you generate momentum.

Skimboarders run along the beach to gain speed, while bodyboarders kick with their legs and arms.

Can You Use a Skimboard to Bodyboard?

It’s possible to use a skimboard to bodyboard, although it will be difficult, you will need larger waves, and you will struggle to control your board.

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Because skimboards are thinner (and often shorter) than bodyboards, they are less buoyant.

This isn’t a problem when you skim as you generate enough speed from running to ensure that you plane on the water’s surface.

When you use your skimboard to bodyboard, however, you will be moving slower.

Even with your bodyboarding fins and strong shoulders, you will never be able to move as quickly as you can on land (thanks to the water-resistance).

This means to remain out of the water, you will not only need to use a longer skimboard, but you’ll need to be riding bigger waves.

Doing this is dangerous as the board will be difficult to control in the prone position (because of its shape and length).

Although you can paddle and bodyboard with a skimboard, it’s not recommended.

What’s the Difference Between a Bodyboard and Skimboard?

Bodyboards and skimboards are made for very specific purposes.

Bodyboards are made to ride large waves, while skimboards are used for smaller waves in shallow water

Therefore we should expect them to be designed differently.

There are many differences between a bodyboard and a skimboard, some of which include:

1. Size

The ideal skimboard size is between waist and chest high, while bodyboards should reach around an inch below your belly button.

Skimboard sizes differ depending on the type of riding you’ll be doing.

Riding waves on a skimboard will need a longer board than a board intended for flat land tricks.

Bodyboards, on the other hand, don’t differ much in length.

2. Shape

Bodyboards are rectangular and made with a flat nose. And a curved tail.

Skimboards, on the other hand, are shaped similar to a surfboard.

They are longer, slimmer, and often end with a pointed or rounded nose.

3. Thickness

Bodyboards are much thicker than skimboards. A bodyboard is roughly 2inches thick, while some skimboards are only 1/2 inch thick.

Because skimboards are made to plane across shallow water, they need to be thinner, and lighter.

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As a bodyboard needs to hold your weight while you lie in the water, a higher volume is needed for added buoyancy.

4. Materials

Bodyboards are made with a foam core, usually constructed from expanded polystyrene (EPS), polyethylene (PE), or Polypropylene (PP) foams.

Softer foam is used on the deck for durability and grip, and a harder plastic bottom is used to reduce friction and increase planning abilities.

Skimboards, on the other hand, can be constructed with wood or foam and fiberglass (in the same way a surfboard is constructed).

Can You Use a Bodyboard to Skimboard

Just as it’s possible to use a skimboard for bodyboarding, it is possible to skim on your bodyboard, but don’t expect the same experience.

Because bodyboards are thicker, wider, and more stubby (think about the nose), they don’t plane as well.

This means that you will go slower and not travel as far when skimming on a bodyboard.

Furthermore, because of the large rails and stubby shape of a bodyboard, it is difficult (but not impossible) to turn when standing.

Beginner skimmers will find learning to skim on a bodyboard extremely difficult.

A proper board will make a huge difference.

Lastly, using your bodyboard to skim will damage your board.

Bodyboards aren’t made to withstand large amounts of weight in focused areas, nor are they made for the impact of you jumping onto them.

Using your bodyboard to skim will result in creases and dents, which will disrupt the board’s flex.

Doing this will mean your board will underperform when you take it bodyboarding again.

This is the best-case scenario, as jumping onto a bodyboard as it is a skimboard could snap it, or at the least reduce how long your bodyboard lasts.

That being said, this doesn’t keep bodyboarders from taking advantage of skimming and shore breaks.

Is Bodyboarding Easier Than Skimboarding?

There is a forever ongoing discussion of whether bodyboarding is easier than surfing, but is it easier than skimboarding?

Bodyboarding is much easier than skimboarding as you don’t need to stand and balance, nor do you need to start out of the water.

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When you bodyboard you face the shore and paddle yourself onto a wave.

As a skimboarder, you run from the shore and jump onto your board facing the oncoming wave. 

From here you need to turn to face the shore as the wave hits you, all while keeping your balance on a tiny board.

There is no doubt that learning to bodyboard is easier than learning to skim.

Does Skimboarding Help With Bodyboarding?

Although both sports are done in the ocean and can involve catching waves, there are little to no similarities between bodyboarding and skimboarding.

Almost none of the skills you learn in one will benefit the other, however, there is something that you can take across.

This is a deeper understanding of how the ocean and its waves work.

Whether you are surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, or paddle skiing, you will be in close contact with the ocean and its waves.

This means you will gain an understanding of:

  • How the waves break
  • When to catch them
  • Which waves to take and which to leave
  • How currents and tides change
  • An idea of the surfing community

The only other time skimboarding will help with bodyboarding is if you are into stand-up bodyboarding or drop knee.

Final Thoughts

Bodyboarding and skimboarding are miles apart, even though many consider them to be similar (or even the same) sports.

Bodyboards are softer, wider, and thicker than skimboards as they need to be more buoyant and easy to control.

Skimboards do not work well when used for bodyboarding. They will require more effort and you’ll get a lot less joy from them.

If you have a skimboard and want to get into bodyboarding, it’s worth spending a few bucks on a good quality bodyboard.

It will make all the difference in the world.

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