While skimboarding and surfing definitely have some things in common, namely the potential for riding waves while standing up on a board, which is more or less where the commonality stops. There are so many distinguishing factors that set skimboarding apart from surfing as an extreme sport, but to the untrained eye these sports might seem very similar. For one thing, the entire board shaping dynamic is different from a skimboard to a surfboard.
Whereas a skimboard has a flat, smooth bottom designed to hydroplane effectively across the skim left by waves breaking upon the sand, a surfboard is designed to be longer, thicker, and with multiple fins on the bottom of the board to help facilitate traction on the wave surface. Furthermore, the dynamic of initiating a ride on a skimboard is totally different from catching a wave on a surfboard. It is fundamentally different, since on a surfboard the rider must paddle into a wave and “drop in”, while rapidly lifting their entire body weight from a prone, laying position into a balanced standing position in a matter of seconds.
Catching a nice line on a skimboard is totally different, since it requires the rider to take a running start toward the skim while carrying their board in a specific stance, dropping the board into the skim while running, and then planting the back foot first followed by the front foot for the purpose of achieving a high speed hydroplane effect. Skimboarders can have different riding styles too, where some riders might simply like to take lateral lines across the skim, more expert and aggressive/technical skimboards tend to aim their hydroplane trajectory out into the surf for the purpose of actually catching waves as they break much like a surfer would.
Establishing the difference between surfing and skimboarding is actually of critical importance in terms of finding some of the best skimboarding locations in the world, since the riding dynamics of each sport are so different. For example, you wouldn’t recommend a skimboarder head out to Mavericks in Northern California, just like you wouldn’t recommend a surfer go hit the skim at Laguna Beach in SoCal. For the benefit of skimboarding athletes all over the world, we have compiled a list of some of the most elite skimboarding spots in the world! Continue reading on to find out more!
Overview Of Our Best Skimboarding Spots Guide
Within our brief guide of some of the best skimboarding spots out there, we have made sure to cover East Coast, West Coast and Island spots too all within the United States. We have also included spots intended for a range of skimboarding skill levels from beginner to expert. There are many high profile skimboarding spots out there in the world that really are best for intermediate to expert skimboarders, and these spots achieve notoriety mostly from Professional Skimboarding Competitions that are held in these locales.
Skimboarding is a challenging sport, and we are fully aware that there are always going to be a lot of beginners out there who are just now getting their introduction to this amazing sport. That is why we have made sure to include at least one skimboarding spot in this article that is genuinely geared toward beginning skimboarding athletes who are just getting their start.
The last thing that anyone should recommend to an entry-level skimboarder is to try his or her hand with a tough, intimidating skimboarding location. This is horrible advice that will at the very least probably lead to that skimboarding beginner getting frustrated and giving up the sport, but more seriously, it could lead to serious injury due to inexperience in a challenging environment. That is why we have made sure to include options for skimboarders of all skill levels, so stick around and find out more about the best skim spots out there today!
Laguna Beach, California, USA
Believe it or not, but Laguna Beach, California is actually known as the birthplace of skimboarding! This remarkable marine extreme sport had its humble beginnings in Laguna Beach, and legend has it that local lifeguards were actually the ones to give life to this sport. The story has it that back in the 1920s, lifeguards working at Laguna Beach locations needed a quick and fun way to traverse the beaches there and get from one end to the other.
The Laguna Beach Lifeguards developed an idea wherein a flat wooden board was shaped and varnished, and then used as a primitive skimboard to accelerate the journey from tower to tower along the beach! It is truly amazing how necessity really is the mother of all invention, and this dynamic seems to have played a significant role in the introduction of skimboarding to the world.
Of course, the sport has come light years since that time, with modern skimboarders riding elite quality fiberglass and carbon fiber skimboards with intricate shapings and performing tricks and lines that would have seemed impossible back in the 1920s! To this day, Laguna Beach remains an excellent spot for skimboarding, and while it tends to be suitable for intermediate to expert skimboarders, the broad and open beaches are also accessible and forgiving for beginners too.
For beginners who are serious about getting a head start into this admittedly difficult sport, there is even a skimboarding school at Laguna Beach that can accelerate your progress as a beginner. This school is called the Solag Skim School, and attending could be one of the best possible things you could do to boost your progress in skimboarding! Laguna Beach is quite a sprawling beach coastline, and of course different mini-spots are going to be better for advanced skimboarders.
There are multiple locations through Laguna Beach where rocks and cliffs help to form excellent wedges that skimboarders can plane out to and catch consistent, well-formed wave breaks that roll for long distances before breaking. Finding some of the better wedges at Laguna Beach is the best bet for experienced skimboarders, and for beginners, the sprawling open beachfront is a forgiving platform to learn as a newbie!
The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA
Another famous California skimboarding location that draws professionals and expert riders from all around is The Wedge at Newport Beach. The Wedge is just as famous as it is infamous, and the notoriety of this spot comes from the fact that this is a wedge-type wave break that can throw up some extremely massive and powerful shorebreak waves. Shorebreak waves are pretty much the name of the game in skimboarding, since the shorebreak comes in much closer to shore and actually crashes right down onto the sand.
While shorebreak waves are highly conducive to great skimboarding lines, they can also be quite dangerous since getting flipped/tossed by a shorebreak wave or going “over the falls” of the wave can easily result in a critical neck or spinal injury. That is why a spot like The Wedge at Newport Beach is really not a great recommendation for a beginner, or even an intermediate skimboarder. The Wedge is really a spot that should only be approached by upper intermediate to expert skimboarders, since it takes a high level of skill and experience to navigate this large and powerful break safely.
Additionally, accessing the actual wave breaks at The Wedge requires a high degree of skill to begin with, since the rider needs to execute a long and powerful plane in order to even reach the breaking wave at The Wedge. It is generally not possible to access breaks at The Wedge without hitting a massive plane, you cannot simply plane for ten feet and be at the break already.
The huge shorebreak at The Wedge forms from stone walls and jetties moving out into the ocean from the beach, which reflect and redirect breaking waves into a giant wedge formation that ends up being ideal for advanced skimboarders. Even if you are not a skimboarder or surfer, simply watching the huge breaks at The Wedge on a big swell day is a sight to behold. For any elite level skimboarders who have not yet experienced The Wedge at Newport Beach, CA, it is a must-visit!
Sandy’s Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
The Hawaiian Islands are home to so many world-class surf and skimboarding spots, so in this way it can be difficult to narrow down to the best ones out there! A major highlight in the range of Hawaiian skimboarding spots, however, has to be Sandy’s Beach on the island of Oahu. This relatively small beach park on Oahu is home to some of the most elite conditions for skimboarding, bodysurfing, and body boarding as well.
One of the qualities that makes Sandy’s so epic for skimboarding is the fact that this happens to be a beach that is characterized by its intense shorebreak wave patterns. Unlike The Wedge at Newport Beach, which is characterized by a unique “wedge” type of wave formation, Sandy’s Beach in Hawaii has a more uniform type of shorebreak wave that is not dependent upon wedge formation dynamics.
Another awesome part about Sandy’s Beach is that even though the beach is characterized by rather intense shorebreak waves, it is still open for beginners on smaller surf days. This is to say that when the conditions are smaller at Sandy’s it can actually be an excellent spot for beginners to work up their skills and familiarize themselves with the sport of skimboarding.
With that being said, Sandy’s can also be downright terrifying when there is a large swell moving in, and in those intense conditions it is a skimboarding spot that should only be approached by true expert skimboarders. That is certainly a big advantage to Sandy’s though; the general versatility of the spot allowing everyone from beginners to pros depending on the surf conditions that day. Sandy’s is also home to some especially beautiful scenery, which makes skimboarding there all the more enjoyable!
Dewey Beach, Delaware, USA
Getting into some of our East Coast skimboarding spots now, the first one to cover is Dewey Beach, Delaware. Dewey Beach is truly an East Coast mecca for skimboarding, in the sense that it is the location where all the big East Coast skimboarding competitions are held! From amateur, to professional, Dewey Beach is the go-to skimboarding spot for pros to flock to whenever a big name contest is going on.
There you will find all the most elite skimboarding sponsors, huge crowds, and the best skimboarders on the planet battling it out for a victory. Although Dewey Beach is not nearly the kind of exotic location that Sandy’s Beach or locations in Southern California would be, it is pretty dependable in terms of throwing some nice shorebreak waves that are conducive to great skimboarding lines.
The long, open beach of Dewey Beach also means there is room for tons of riders to enjoy the waves, unlike a spot like The Wedge at Newport Beach where there is so much competition to grab each wedge wave as it breaks. It also allows beginners to feel comfortable at Dewey Beach, since they are not being forced to compete with expert riders to catch a decent wave.
The general versatility of Dewey Beach is another aspect that makes it such a fantastic East Coast skimboarding spot. This is true since skimboarders at a beginner skill level, all the way to professional, can all get great lines and enjoy skimboarding at Dewey Beach! The skill level versatility, along with the dependable, consistent, clean shorebreak waves make Dewey Beach one of the most perfect skimboarding spots anywhere on the East Coast.
Skaket Beach, Massachusetts, USA
For our final skimboarding spot on the countdown, we chose an East Coast spot that is absolutely perfect for beginning skimboarders who are trying to feel their way into a basic proficiency in the sport. Skaket Beach at Cape Cod in Massachusetts is definitely not a skimboarding spot for expert riders, as they would probably be quite bored at this location.
The reason it is so perfect for beginners, and consequently the reason it made our countdown, is that Skaket Beach is transformed into a series of sandbars and shallow tide pools when ever the tide goes down low. This creates literally the perfect environment for a beginner skimboarding athlete, since it creates a relatively still water surface where beginners can practice their approach, their board drop, and their basic stance/balance dynamics during hydroplaning.
There is ample room for running approaches, and nearly limitless lateral water distance to hydroplane on and develop your fundamental skills as a skimboarder. Again, East Coast skimboarding spots like Skaket Beach near Cape Cod aren’t going to be as flashy and exotic as a Hawaiian or Southern California skim spot, but Skaket Beach, MA still stands as perhaps one of the best beginner skimboarding locations anywhere on the East Coast.
Beginners can develop their core skimboarding abilities at Skaket Beach in a very forgiving environment without fear of serious injury from big waves, and without worrying about having to compete with other riders for water access. If you’re a beginner skim athlete and looking for a solid spot to practice on the East Coast, Skaket Beach, MA could be the perfect option for you!