Sign Up for My Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on all the altest news and reviews from

What’s the difference between an inflatable paddle board and a surfboard?

Surfing and paddleboarding are two of the most popular water sports both in the UK and around the world. Although it may seem like the sports are similar there are actually key differences between the two sports that make them less easy to confuse.

Aside from the actual boards being used having different features the aim of both sports are also completely different. Keep reading to find out the key differences between paddle boarding and surfing.

Aim of the game

With surfing, the purpose is to find waves and ride with them whereas when using an inflatable paddle board you want the board to cut through the waves so that you can ride over the top of them. Hence why people who want to surf tend to go to choppier parts of open water and paddle boarders will look for calmer and sheltered areas. When paddle boarding you have to use the paddle to propel yourself through the water, however with surfing the current and waves are used to induce motion.


Inflatable paddle boards are designed to float with the full weight of the user without sinking, as the user is mostly going to be standing in the same place on calm water. As inflatable paddle boards have air pumped into them it enhances their buoyancy where surfboards are like hard boards and therefore can not be pumped up with air. Similarly a paddle board that is partially submerged underwater will impact the users ability to paddle board, where was with a surfboard slight submersion will not affect the performance


Inflatable paddle boards are wider and thicker than surfboards of the same length, inflatable paddle boards are thicker due to needing to be inflated for buoyancy and can be around 4 inches thick, whereas surfboards are around half that thickness. Paddle boards are also a lot wider than surfboards so that they give the user stability whereas surfboards need to be thinner so you can sit and straddle them in the water.


With surfing, you only need one type of board – a surfboard, as there is very little to no variation with this sport. However, with paddle boards there are a number of different boards that can be used for a wide range of paddle board activities. On a paddle board you can partake in a number of different activities and as such as can purchase a different paddle board with different specifications tailored to your chosen activity including:

  • Touring paddle boards
  • Fishing paddle boards
  • Racing paddle boards
  • Yoga paddle boards

As mentioned both surfing and paddle boarding are incredibly popular water sports and although on first glance they may seem similar in both equipment required and aim of the sport they are in fact different. Unfortunately this means for those of you who wish to partake in both, you will have to purchase both as surfboards are not suitable for paddle boarding and inflatable paddle boards are not suitable for surfing.

I Can Help You With