Surfing vs. Snowboarding: Which Is Harder?

Surfing vs. Snowboarding

Snowboarding is a sport that can either be recreational or competitive. It is done by standing on a board that is attached to your feet and going down a snow-covered slope. This sport has been around since the 1920s and the first ever snowboards were wooden planks made of barrels or tie plywood, which were then attached to the feet using a clothesline and horse reins, so that you could steer yourself when going downhill. Modern snowboarding began in 1965 in Michigan, when an engineer invented a toy for his daughter. He fastened two skis together and then attached a rope to an end, so that his daughter would be able to control the board as she stood on it and glided downhill.

Snowboarding is the perfect activity to get active outside in cold weather. If you are a beginner, snowboarding can be a little intimidating because there is always a bit of a learning curve, but once you have mastered the basics, it can unlock a lifetime of fun on snowy mountains.

Surfing, on the other hand, is a water sport wherein an individual uses a board to ride a breaking wave towards the shore. Surfing can develop your balance, flexibility, and endurance. It also builds up your physical and mental well-being and increases your ability to absorb oxygen. Surfing is a great overall exercise that works out your core muscles and upper body muscles. Furthermore, it is good for the heart and very therapeutic.

Snowboarding and surfing have many similarities. For one, they are both outdoor sports and involve balancing on a board while riding over water or snow. However, one is harder than the other, so we did some research to find out which of these two sports is harder.

Surfing is harder than snowboarding because it takes place in the ocean, wherein the conditions are always changing. It is different every time and you’ll never be on the same wave. Surfing is also harder to learn because it takes you a long time to really get good at it, whereas in snowboarding, you can pick up the basics quickly.

Let us see what differences and similarities these two sports have, so we can expand on why surfing is harder.


Surfing is said to be the most difficult and complex sport in the world. It is not hard to learn, but if you are looking to develop more skills to catch waves from the peak and ride their unbroken faces down the line, it can be very challenging. If you are determined to learn how to surf, here are 10 things you need to know before you start your surfing lessons




  1. Snowboard

    It is the basic and most essential equipment for snowboarding as it allows you to slide over a snowy surface.

  1. Snowboard Boots

    These are generally soft or hard plastic boots and allow you to pass your motion of energy to the snowboard.

  1. Snowboard Bindings

    These are specially designed attachments to the snowboard. Their function is to hold your boots in the proper place to efficiently transfer your force into the motion of the board.

If you are looking for your very first snowboard equipment, check out our top recommendations of the best snowboardsbest snowboard boots, and best snowboard bindings

How it works

  1. The Basics

    • Determine your stance
      1. Regular Stance
        This refers to when you’re more comfortable with your left foot forward and right foot at the back.
      2. Goofy
        This refers to when you are more comfortable with your right foot forward and left foot at the back.
  1. Basic Snowboard Stance

    To get into a basic snowboard stance, you first have to flex your ankles, keep your knees tracked over your toes, and your shoulders and hips in line with your board. You should also relax your arms by your side and keep a calm upper body.

  1. Learn to Skate and Glide

    Once your front foot is strapped onto the binding, your back foot should be placed on the heel part of the snowboard. You then have to use your back foot to push yourself around and take small steps to avoid accidents.

    Do not let your free foot go past the back binding as this may cause you to do a split.

    As you get more comfortable skating on flat terrain, you can put your free foot into the middle of the board and rest it against the back binding for more stability. Practice straight gliding on a flat surface before trying it on a gentle slope that has an easy runout.


Snowboarding is an amazing activity to enjoy in winter but it can be a bit intimidating for first-timers. If you’re a first time snowboarder, we have a guide on learning how to snowboard as a beginner that is filled with tips and tricks to help you get started.  




  1. Surfboard

    The two most common types of surfboards are shortboards and longboards. This is the equipment you use to ride a wave.

  1. Fins

    These act as the wheels of your surfboard. They provide stability, performance, and drive.

  1. Leash

    This is a rope that will keep you connected to your surfboard so that if you fall or get wiped out, your board remains within your reach.

  1. Surf Wax and Traction Pad

    These will keep you from slipping off your surfboard when paddling and riding a wave. A surf wax demands regular maintenance, while traction pads can last for years if applied properly.

  1. Wetsuit

    This garment will allow you to stay in cold waters for extended periods.

  1. Rash Guard (Optional)

    This clothing can protect your skin against irritation and prolonged exposure to the sun.

  1. Surf Earplugs (Optional)

    This can protect you from exostosis, which is a condition wherein a bone surrounding your ear canal thickens when exposed to cold winds and waters. This condition is also known as “surfer’s ear” and happens frequently to surfers around 30 years old.

  1. Surfboard Bag (Optional)

    As surfboards are fragile, these bags will protect them from damages and elements, especially during surf trips and long walks.

How it works

  1. Land Practice

    Before paddling out, practice popping up and determining your stance to get comfortable with the motion. There are two different stances, like in snowboarding:

    • Regular Stance
      This refers to when you’re more comfortable with your left foot in front and right foot at the back.
    • Goofy
      This refers to when you are more comfortable with your right foot in front and left foot at the back.
  1. Paddle out

    Watch where other surfers paddle out, where the waves are breaking, and the levels of the surfers in the water, and make sure the waves are comfortable for you. Also, note where other people are catching waves.

  2. Catch a Wave

    When you see a wave you want to catch, turn around and point the nose of your board toward the shore. Then, lay down and paddle. Make sure the nose of your surfboard is not too high in the air nor underwater. Start paddling using 30-50 % of your paddle power, and when the wave starts to draw on your surfboard’s tail, paddle up to 80 %, and then, 100 % for the last few strokes.

  3. Stand

    If you feel a burst of momentum and speed, then you’ll know it’s the right time to stand up.

  4. Pop up

    When popping up, fully commit and look calmly ahead because hesitation creates instability. Hop up in one motion and never look down to your feet nor back at the wave or at the nose of your board. Always keep your eyes up and forward.

  5. Surf

    Put slightly more weight in your back foot, bend your knees, and hold your arms out to your sides to balance yourself.


Learning how to surf is something that you can do on your own, but it will be much easier if you decide to take some surfing lessons instead. This way, you will have the guidance of an expert which will allow you to learn how to surf much faster. The question is: how many surf lessons do you need? Read our article to find out. 


Will snowboarding help me surf?

Yes, having experience in snowboarding can help you learn how to surf easily because you’ve already determined your stance and know how to balance yourself on a board. Besides, snowboarding encourages you to be more mindful of your posture and balance, and teaches you to adjust your weight between your heel and toe edges, which is truly helpful in making turns and keeping control when surfing.


Why is surfing harder than snowboarding?

Surfing is harder than snowboarding because:

  1. The surfing playing field is different and always changing, wherein the sizes and shapes of the waves are never the same. Meanwhile, in snowboarding, the playing field is a hill or mountain that has enough snow to cover the ground, and regardless the ski runs remain there regardless of the weather. Thus, you can still ride your board down the hill, even when it’s snowing, windy, or raining.
  2. Learning how to surf takes a lot of time. You may find yourself standing up and riding a wave on the first day and then being wiped out the next day. It takes time and dedication to get it right, and even professionals take a tumble or two. Whereas in snowboarding, it only takes 15-20 days to become competent.
  3. Surfing takes a lot of effort because you are required to spend lots of effort the whole time you are in the water. There is also no time to stop or take a time out in the ocean as the waves are changing and you always have to try and paddle out to avoid crashing waves and be in the right position to ride one. In snowboarding, the amount of effort is minimal because there are chairlifts available to take you up the mountain and you can just rely on gravity and your balance to glide down.
  4. In surfing, there are not a lot of opportunities to get better because you spend most of the time paddling and waiting for the waves you are more comfortable riding. A study actually showed that surfers spend less than 10 % of their time surfing the waves.



On the surface level, surfing and snowboarding may seem like completely similar activities enjoyed in very different settings. But, aside from balancing on boards, surfing and snowboarding are two unique activities that you should definitely take the time to enjoy and experience. 

Even though surfing is harder than snowboarding, it is still a fun and great way to keep you active while spending time in the ocean. Both have a lot of health benefits and one can help you get better at the other. What’s great about taking part in these two sports is that they will keep you active all year round. You can ride the waves when the weather is warm and sunny and you can hit the slopes once the snow arrives. 

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