Surfskate vs. Skateboard: Which is Better?

by | Jan 18, 2022 | Surfskating Basics

When comparing surfskates to skateboards, it’s not which is better. It’s just about the feel you’re looking for—and you might love both! Let’s analyze the difference between surfskates and skateboards to see if surfskating is for you.

Wondering about the difference between surfskates and skateboards?

My guess is that you’re either a skateboarder considering surfskating, or maybe you have no board sports experience at all and you’re trying to choose between a surfskate or skateboard.

In either case, I’m going to do my best to convince you to at least give surfskating a shot! 😉

Whether you’re an experienced skateboarder or total newbie, surfskating is something you must experience for yourself.

All I can tell you is, I started this website and my YouTube channel because I started taking my surfskates around to skate parks to have people try them. No one had heard of surfskates. And everyone who tried one said, “I gotta get one!”

Read on to learn the difference between surfskates and skateboards.

To save time, money, and hassle in choosing the right surfskate skateboard for you, get my Ultimate Surfskate Selector now.

Surfskates & Skateboards Have the Same Roots!

To understand the difference between surfskating and skateboarding, let’s look at Carver, the original surfskate brand. On their About Us page, they tell the story of why they created the first “surfskate skateboard.” The story starts:

“It all started one quiet summer in Venice, California in 1995. Greg Falk and Neil Carver had been surfing all winter, and were pumped to surf the warmer waters of the Breakwater during the long days of summer, but it was as flat as a puddle. Not even a longboard ripple to justify getting wet. So, like the many generations before them, they took to the streets with skateboards in search of hills to surf.
 
“The historic neighborhoods of Venice and Santa Monica are a veritable skatepark of steep alleys and banks, and as they dropped in on those asphalt waves they were struck with how unlike surfing it was.
 
“Sure, they sort of got a surf-like experience, as much as standing on a board and banking turns can provide, but they really missed the snap and drive that a surfboard has, that crisp pivot you get at the tail that lets you really pump a wave for speed. Their skateboards felt stiff by comparison.
 
“They tried loosening the trucks even more but all they got was speed wobble, and the steepest hills became virtually unskateable. And even with those loose trucks, the dynamic of the turn was still all rail-to-rail, symmetrical nose-to-tail. Picking up the nose to tic-tac at high speed down a steep incline was sketchy, so they were left only imagining the performance they wanted, unable to get that feel with any skateboard on the market…”

Essentially, Greg and Neil were trying to reproduce the movements and feel of surfing on land.

After much trial and error, in 1996 they brought the first surfskate truck to market, the Carver C7. In contrast to standard skateboard trucks, their new surfskate truck, like a surfboard, gave riders deep rail-to-rail lean, tight carving, and the ability to pump the board to generate speed.

This new “surfskate skateboard” truck opened up a whole new world of possibility for skaters and allowed them to skate the streets in a way that had never been seen before — in effect, like surfers:

The bottom line is this: Surfskates and skateboards have the same roots. And it’s not about choosing between them. It’s about enjoying the different feel that each of them can give you.

Can You Do Tricks on Surfskates Like Skateboards?

One big question skateboarders often have is if you can do tricks on surfskates like you can on skateboards.

Because the front surfskate truck is so much less stable than a standard skateboard truck, it’s certainly not as easy to do tricks on a surfskate. And there are some things you really can’t do on a surfskate, like ride fakie.

However, there are plenty of tricks that you can do on a surfskate. And the added pumping and carving functions that you get from a surfskate truck can make surfskates even more versatile than skateboards.

Mark the Landlocked Surfer up in Ottawa, Canada is a skateboarder turned surfskater pushing trends on this front by fusing surfskate and skateboard styles. They call him the “Unconventional Surfskater” for a reason!

Check out a few of his videos showcasing what you can do on a surfskate if you’re a good skateboarder:

Can You Ride Surfskates in Bowls Like Skateboards?

Hell yes, you can ride surfskates in bowls!

I had no experience with any board sports until the age of 43. I longboarded for about eight months before buying my first surfskate in October of 2020.

In April of 2021, I started learning surfskate bowl riding. This is what I was able to accomplish in just thirty days of practice:

I’m not a skateboarder, so I’m not the most qualified to speak on the difference between surfskates and skateboards for bowl riding. But when you watch surfskaters riding in bowls, you can visually see the difference: compared to skateboards, surfskates have wider, flowier lines, and you don’t do kick turns at the top.

It’s also harder to do aerials out of bowls on a surfskate than a skateboard, because the front truck is so much looser. I can’t do aerials, but many advanced riders can:

What’s the Best Surfskate Skateboard for Beginners?

If you’re sold on trying a surfskate skateboard, then you’re probably wondering which one you should buy as a beginner.

You can read this article to see my full answer on what’s the best surfskate for beginners.

But I’ll just bottom-line it for you: I think most surfskate beginners, especially if you’re coming from a skateboarding background, should start on either a Carver CX surfskate or Slide surfskate.

They are stabler and have more of a skateboard feel than other surfskates. Compared to other surfskates that are best used for pure surf training in small areas, Carver CX and Slide surfskates are better for longer-distance street cruising. They generate more forward momentum when you pump, and their wheels are better suited for a wide variety of terrain.

To save time, money, and hassle in choosing the best surfskate skateboard model for you, get my Ultimate Surfskate Selector now.