Is Surfing Like Snowboarding? (Important Facts)

When we speak of extreme sports that involve boards, surfing and snowboarding always make the list.

So, Is Surfing Like Snowboarding?

Although there are similarities between the sports, such as riding on a board, exercising in nature, and using a sideways stance, the two sports are not as similar as they would seem at first glance.

Even though the two sports are different in more ways than not, some skills learned from each will transfer to the other sport and could therefore give you an edge.

Below, we will look at surfing and snowboarding, how they are similar, and what skills learned in one could transfer to the other.

  • Save

How Are Surfing and Snowboarding Similar

Although many aspects of the two sports cannot seem further apart, there are still a few fundamentals that surfing and snowboarding have in common.

Side on Stance

While surfing, you stand side on to your board (heels facing the rails). This is also true for snowboarding. However, surfers have the option of changing the angle of their feet when it suits them; snowboarders do not have this option.

Both Use a Board

Both surfing and snowboarding are practiced on long flat boards. Although this is true, the similarities between the boards end at long and thin.

Snowboards are thinner, shorter, and have bigger noses and tails than surfboards.

Both Use Wax

Surfers and snowboarders both use wax on their boards. The wax is a hydrocarbon-based wax, usually made with a paraffin base.

Ironically, surfers use wax on the top side of their boards to create grip, while snowboarders use wax at the bottom of their boards to reduce friction.

Extreme Sports

According to Britannica, extreme sports, “also known as action sports or alternative sports, sporting events or pursuits characterized by high speeds and high risk”.

With both surfers and snowboarders traveling up to 35mph and more, it is clear that these two sports fit comfortably into the “extreme” category.

READ ALSO  How to Keep Track of Time While Surfing?

Done in Nature

One of the greatest parts of both surfing and snowboarding is that they give us time to indulge in nature.

Both of these extreme sports are practiced outdoors and with a strong reliance on what nature has to bring.

If there are no waves, you can’t surf. If there is no snow, you won’t be snowboarding either.

Both Sports Require High Levels of Fitness

The physical movements of surfing and snowboarding may differ in many sports, but both sports require high fitness levels and are not for the faint of heart.

As a beginner, you may not notice this as much, but as you progress, the stress put on your body will increase.

How Is Surfing and Snowboarding Different

As you can see from the above list, there are not many similarities between surfing and snowboarding, and the aspects that are similar between the sports often have fundamental differences themselves.

The following is how the two sports differ from each other.


When snowboarding, you will always use foot bindings. This is not true for surfers as surfboards do not generally have foot straps, except for the exception of tow-in surfing.

Although these bindings are fixed, like surfing, the rider can still swap them around to use a goofy stance.

Snowboard bindings are also bigger than the straps used for surfing. 

The bindings of a snowboard are generally in the shape of a boot and made to contain the foot, while a surfer’s foot needs to be able to escape their foot straps in the case of wiping out on a wave.


Location is everything for these two sports. One needs snow and a steep, preferably long decline, while the other needs water, swell, and correctly angled wind.

It is impossible to snowboard in the ocean and equally impossible to surf in the mountains (unless there is a wave pool).

The location that is required for surfing and snowboarding couldn’t possibly get any further apart.


Although the climate doesn’t always need to be the deciding factor, it does make a big difference.

Snowboarding needs snow, and therefore the climate needs to be able to support that. In many of the world’s most famous ski locations, the snow subsides in the summertime which makes snowboarding impossible.

READ ALSO  How Long Do Surfers Surf? (Important Facts)

On the flip side, surfing is often seen as a warm sunshine type of sport. Of courseThis is not always true as in many places, the best swell arrives in winter.

Furthermore, some surfers, such as the ice surfer, Surfer Dan, who surfs year-round in the icy lakes of Michigan, do not care for the temperature at all and will face any available waves.

Weight Distribution

While riding a snowboard, our weight distribution is different from that when we are surfing.

Surfing requires more weight on the back foot. This allows us to maneuver our boards by digging the fins into the water.

Snowboarding, on the other hand, takes a weighted front-foot approach.


Snowboarding requires significantly more equipment than surfing does.

As a surfer, all you need is a surfboard, leash, wax, a wetsuit (if you are surfing in cold water), and a surfboard bag to protect your board.

When snowboarding you will need a snowboard, foot bindings, snowboard boots, jacket, and trousers, snowboard socks, a helmet, goggles, and more.

Different Muscle Groups

When in a standing position, both surfing and snowboarding use very similar muscles. Our entire legs and core are activated to help maintain our balance and maneuver the boards.

With surfing, however, while paddling, the entire upper body is used. This is not the same with snowboarding as there is no paddling done and so the muscles in the upper body are used far less.


Although surfboards can be expensive, your board will be the majority of your costs. To take up surfing you could be ready to go for only a few 100 USD.

Snowboarding, on the other hand, will cost much more. This is not only because you will need a lot more gear, but you will also need to purchase ski passes, pay for accommodation at ski lodges, and pay for transport (which in most cases is a fairly long distance).

Is Surfing Harder Than Snowboarding?

Surfing is often considered to be harder than snowboarding as it has a steeper learning curve, requires a greater amount of endurance, and has external puzzles such as learning how the ocean works.

Snowboarding, on the other hand, does not require the rider to analyze each ride differently (unless they are changing slopes).

That being said, when it comes to controlling the board, snowboarding can seem much harder as there are no fins to aid in your turn, and your feet are bound, so you can not reposition them to a more comfortable position.

READ ALSO  How Much Does Surfing Cost? (Explained for Beginners)

Is Surfing More Fun Than Snowboarding?

Whether you find surfing or snowboarding more fun is a personal preference and will vary from person to person.

Some may say surfing is more fun as it can be done year-round, is often done in the sunshine, and is safer than snowboarding.

Others may argue that snowboarding is better as there is a smaller learning curve, you do not need to wait long periods for your next ride, and it is not as reliant on the weather (providing there is snow).

Is Surfing or Snowboarding More Dangerous?

Both snowboarding and surfing come with high levels of risk. When surfing, you have the risk of drowning, making contact with dangerous sea life, cutting yourself on sharp reefs, and head trauma from collisions.

On the other hand, Snowboarding will expose you to risks of head injuries, avalanches, and of course, there is flying off of a cliff.

Both sports hold a lot of dangers, but it is snowboarding that takes the cake for the most dangerous.

According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) over the past 10 years an average of 40.6 people have died while skiing or snowboarding each year.

Surfing, on the other hand, sees an estimated 10 deaths per year on average (which is only 0.00003% of all surfers world wide.

Do Snowboarding Skills Transfer to Surfing and Visa Versa?

Although both snowboarding and surfing look to be very similar, not many of the skills learned in one will help with the other.

This is because snowboarding does not require you to move from a prone to standing position.

One of the only skills that transfer between these sports is balance and turning. Both surfing and snowboarding require strong core muscles and use bending of the knees and twisting of the hips to maneuver the board.

Apart from this, the skills learned in one will not help much with the other.


Snowboarding and surfing are both extreme sports that are done by standing sideways on a board in nature.

Although these sports have this in common, they are more different than the same. One is done in the ocean while the other is at the top of a mountain.

One is best on warm sunny days while the other requires snow.

Despite the large difference between these sports, it is common to find that a lover of one is a lover of the other.

If you live in the right place then snowboarding and surfing could perfectly complement each other through the changing of seasons.

Is surfing like snowboarding?
  • Save
Scroll to Top
Copy link