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Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Costco Surfboard

Costco Surfboard WaveStorm Soft Top Broken

One of the most common questions we get asked is what is the best surfboard for learning to surf. Answer: a soft top surfboard. Thanks to their improved buoyancy soft tops make paddling and standing up easier, letting you catch more waves and have more fun. They are also safer than hard top boards because getting hit with something soft is always better than getting hit with something hard. (That’s just math.) But what a lot of beginner surfers don’t realize is there are a lot of great options out there for soft top surfboards. So instead they head over to their local mega superstore and pick up a Costco Surfboard. But take it from us, that’s not a good idea.

Costco: Your One Stop Shop (Except for Surfboards)

We love Costco. Cheap gas. Fifty pound bags of Doritos. Free tastings. It’s grocery heaven. Seriously, where else can you buy a pair of board shorts, get some photos printed, have an eye exam, prepare for a barbecue, find a computer, and stock up on enough toilet paper for a decade — all while feasting on a free lunch of mini-sausages, Vitamix smoothies, and flavored popcorn?

Best of all, the prices are killer. A $9.95 large pizza? Don’t mind if we do.

Over the past couple years Costco has also become the king of selling soft top surfboards. Their Wavestorm model is the most popular surfboard in America. Head down to the Huntington Beach pier on a mid-summer Saturday and you’ll see a flurry of Team Costco Board Riders heading out …. and then getting washed ashore. Stick around long enough and you’ll likely even see some of those riders walking back up the beach, a half a board in each hand.

When it comes to a surfboard, you pay for what you get. As a beginner, buying a $100 soft top surfboard from Costco is going to leave you with a poor-quality surfboard and experience.

Riding the Wavestorm to Kookdom

What’s a kook?

Kook, noun. Pronunciation: kük : Someone with no understanding of surfing etiquette; a poser trying to imitate the surfing lifestyle. In the water, a clueless kook can annoy or even endanger other surfers and nearby swimmers.

Let’s face it, you don’t want to be a “kook” in the line-up.

Kookiness has nothing to do with learning to surf. In fact, most beginner surfers who are serious about learning are as far from being kooks as you can get. Even those who are just looking to have some fun and give surfing a try aren’t necessarily kooks, so long as they respect their gear, the ocean, and others around them. Everyone makes mistakes and wipes out. That’s life. No worries.

It’s how you approach the waves that really matter.

And that’s why Costco surfboards have a bad rap, and you should reconsider buying one if you’re just starting out.

Novice surfers are so often linked to being kooks because people who rarely surf are the ones pulling kook moves. Costco makes it really easy to get a board. Maybe a little too easy. Head out with a Wavestorm under your arm and the first thought on every nearby surfers mind will be: KOOK! Which makes getting respect in the lineup really difficult.

But even seasoned surfers can earn the unwanted stigma of being a kook. Dropping in on other surfers, that’s a kook move. No matter how long you’ve been surfing, or how good you are. But most experienced surfers know better. Weekend warriors and those hitting the surf for the first time usually don’t.

Another way to be a kook? Using the wrong equipment under the wrong circumstances.

The Cons of Costco Surfboards

There is a time and a place for everything, and that’s certainly true for Costco’s surfboards. They can be really fun, in the right conditions. Have you seen the Wavestorm World championships? Turns out even pro surfers are getting kooky with Costco Surfboards. But these members of Team Wavestorm know what they’re doing, and learned to surf the right way first.

Which is why we recommend against using a Costco surfboard when you are learning to surf. After you figure out the fundamentals, then go ahead and tackle pipeline on a Wavestorm.

Some of the top reasons being:

  • Wavestorm soft top surfboards are known to soak up seawater
  • At high speeds their plastic fins chatter. At best this is annoying, at worst it lessens stability
  • The Costco surfboard leash is tangle-prone
  • They are more susceptible to rot. And break easily

Waterlogged Wavestorm Costco Surfboard

Surfers have also joked Wavestorm’s move like a school bus in water. Not exactly something you want plowing through a group of first time surfers, or young kids just starting out.

What’s In a Board?

Whenever you buy or rent a surfboard you should give serious thought to what the board is made of. For example, when buying a hard top surf board knowing whether it is glassed with epoxy vs fiberglass, or shaped using polyurethane vs EPS foam, makes a big difference. The size of the board matters too.

The same level of consideration should be given when choosing a soft top board. Soft tops are not just for beginners. Every level of surfer including from novice to intermediate and advanced can benefit from having a soft top in their quiver. So long as it is the right model for them.

Just like you need to choose the right the spot to learn at (which is why we hold our surf school at Bolsa Chica), you need to find the right board to start. The result is a much safer, and funner, experience all around.

A beginner should choose a board that is suitable to their skill set, height and weight, and can survive the initial mishandling that comes with trying something new for the first time. Not just go with whatever Costco has on its shelves for the best price.

The Soft Top We Use Instead of Costco Surfboards

At Corky Carroll’s Surf School we teach surfing using Storm Blade Surfboards. This model has been around since 2006 bringing some of the best high-performance soft top surfboards on the market.

Storm Blade is produced by AGIT Global, which is actually the same water sport brand that puts out Wavestorm surfboards. But there is good reason why you find Storm Blade’s being used at a lot surf schools and surf camps around the world, and not Wavestorms.

Not only do they come in a wider selection of sizes for all skill levels, but Storm Blade’s generous outlines and well calibrated thickness make surfing an unparalleled experience for beginners to advance. Their strong yet forgiving foam layered construction provides a complete fun inspiring time in any surf condition.

Storm Blade Surfboards encompass performance with style, only using high-quality materials, providing a perfectly balanced wave-riding platform to surf. Specifically its extra buoyant foam will have any novice standing up in no time.

In general, we recommend an 8ft to 9ft soft top surfboard with as much width and thickness as possible. Our favorite learning soft top surfboard in the industry is the 9ft Storm Blade SSR. It is perfect for learning how to surf on any type of waves.

Storm Blade SSR Soft Top Surfboard


This might all sound like an over-fluffed up endorsement, but we feel really strongly about the boards we use for our surf lessons and truly find Storm Blade’s to be the best. But like we said earlier, there is no one-size fits all when it comes to surfboards. There are plenty of other great soft tops out there (some of which we include in our surfboard rentals quiver).

We want everyone to have fun surfing. And we want beginner’s to learn the right way. So think twice about that Wavestorm $100 Costco surfboard if you’re just starting out. The smart choice is to learn on a high-quality soft top.

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