Surfboard Parts Explained

If you passionate about surfing but you feel you don’t know the first thing about it, don’t let that stop you from trying. Think about it this way – whenever you take up a new hobby or start learning something new, it’s natural to start with the basics. And what’s more natural than to get familiar with the ins and outs of a surfboard?

Besides, if you decide to take up surfing lessons in San Diego, this is the first thing you will learn, but it wouldn’t hurt to do some research in advance, right?

You might feel overwhelmed to realize there are quite a few types and subtypes of surfboards, but you don’t need to worry – the names for individual parts of a surfboard are the same for every surfboard type, so you’ll have no trouble knowing which is which and what it’s called.

So, here we go.


The nose is the front part of the surfboard that sits out of the water. Depending on the type of surfboard, it can be rounded or pointed. For example, shortboards and their subtypes have a pointed nose, whereas longboards and their subtypes have a rounded nose. However, there are various hybrid types of surfboard where different parts are combined to make a custom surfboard, which also applies to the type of nose.


The tail is the opposite of the nose. There are a few types of tail: squashtail, squaretail, thumbtail, pintail, and swallowtail. The type of the tail can also greatly influence the performance a surfer can achieve on the surfboard.

Deck & Rocker

A surfboard has a top and bottom side; the top is called the deck, while the bottom is called the rocker.

The deck is where a surfer stands or lies when paddling. The most important thing to know about the deck is that you need to apply wax to its surface to ensure a good grip. For extra grip (and more stability), you can also use a traction pad.

There are three types of surfboard decks: the flat deck, the dome deck, and the step deck. Like the name says, the flat deck is absolutely flat. The dome deck is the most common type; it has more volume towards the center and the rails are thinner. This allows for easier turns and maneuvers. By contrast, the flat deck has more volume in the rails.  Finally, the step deck seems flat at first glance, but it has more volume spread evenly across the deck. This makes it stronger and stiffer than the previous two, which is why it’s great for paddling.


Rails are the ‘’edges’’ of a surfboard. Bear in mind that they run all the way from the bottom to the nose of a surfboard, so you don’t think that we only refer to the middle part of the surfboard as the rails. Depending on the type of deck, the rails can vary in thickness and allow for different surfboard performance.


Put simply, what tires are to a car, the fins are to a surfboard. They are the protruding parts on a surfboard, and a surfboard can have as few as one fin or as many as four fins. For example, longboards typically have one fin, whereas shortboards typically have 2-3 fins. However, the rule is that no rule is set in stone.

Want to Learn More? Join our Surfing Lessons in San Diego!

Instructors at Pacific Surf School will teach you all you need to know about surfboards in professional surfing lessons in San Diego. Join hundreds of surf students we have shaped and nourished over the years – learn how to surf, improve your technique or simply come to have fun with us. Call us at (858) 488-2685 or contact us online to reserve your spot!

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