Where you surf and who you are determines the board you need
Karen Barbier was hooked. She took a surfing class in Nicaragua during spring break in 2008 and fell in love with it. After her trip, Barbier continued signing up for lessons in Galveston and took more surfing trips to Nicaragua, Mexico and Costa Rica.
“I love being in the water,” Barbier said. “It feels peaceful and it keeps you fit.”
Barbier prefers to use longboards because paddling and catching a wave is easier with them, she said. But there are other board options for surfing enthusiasts.
Surfers can use different types of boards, including shortboards or boogie boards, to ride waves. Varying preferences, skill level, surfing goals and location help surfers determine the type of board they want to use.
Surfboards generally are broken down by lengths, which are shortboards, mid-lengths and longboards, said James Fulbright, owner of surf shop Strictly Hardcore Surf Specialties, 3702 Ave. R, in Galveston.
All surfboards are designed for riders based on their height and weight. Experience level and surfing location also determine surfboard selection, Fulbright said.
Shortboards are for surfers who want to take a more aggressive approach to wave riding, who have some level of experience and who travel to areas with bigger, more powerful waves, Fulbright said.
Longboards have more stability and flotation, he said. They’re great for beginners, smaller waves and surfers who want to take a more stylish and soulful approach to wave riding, Fulbright said.
Mid-length surfboards marry the maneuverability of a shorter board and the glide and wave-catching capabilities of a longboard, Fulbright said. All of the boards work in Galveston and what surfers ride ultimately is based on personal preference, he said.
Each year, thousands of surfers, many from neighboring Houston, visit the island, Fulbright said. Galveston has relatively uncrowded conditions and friendly crowds compared to most other beach and surfing communities, he said.
Surfers also can use boogie boards and stand-up paddle boards to surf, Barbier said. Boogie boards are small, top halves of surfboards on which most surfers lie down to catch a wave. Stand-up paddle boards are usually bigger and thicker, Barbier said.
Galveston doesn’t get big waves like Hawaii, but the island still is a good place to surf, Barbier said. Near 91st Street in Galveston and Surfside in Brazoria County are great places to surf locally, she said.
Galveston resident Stephen Hadley, who has been surfing for more than 35 years, said South Padre Island near the Mexican border is the best place to surf in Texas. Hadley loves to surf in Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington and Costa Rica. But the location isn’t as important as the act of surfing, he said.
“Surfing connects you to something bigger than yourself,” he said. “The ocean is a sanctuary — a living breathing organism; it’s life,” he said.
Surfing has been a defining part of Hadley’s life, providing him with valuable insight, he said. Hadley wants to surf as long as he can and encourage others to try it so they too can experience the freedom and connection he feels when surfing, he said.
“If I can get everyone to surf, the world would be a better place,” he said.