Skimboarding Starter Pack: Techniques for Beginners

If you've ever dreamt of gliding effortlessly across the water's surface, feeling the rush of wind in your hair and the spray of salt on your skin, then you're in for a treat. In this comprehensive guide, we're delving deep into the exciting realm of skimboarding, offering beginners a starter pack of essential techniques to kickstart their journey. 

But this isn't just your average how-to manual; it's a roadmap to adventure, a passport to freedom on the waves. Whether you're a seasoned surfer looking to expand your horizons or a curious newcomer eager to dip your toes into uncharted waters, there's something here for everyone. 

From choosing the perfect board to mastering advanced maneuvers, we've got you covered every step of the way. So grab your board, wax up those edges, and get ready to ride the tide of excitement that awaits. The ocean beckons, and the time to answer its call is now.


Choosing the Right Board

Understanding the differences between various types of skimboards is crucial for beginners as it lays the foundation for a fulfilling and enjoyable journey on the waves. Much like choosing the right tool for any job, selecting the perfect board can significantly impact your experience and progression in skimboarding.

Firstly, let's explore the distinction between traditional wood boards like the Body Glove Eva and high-performance foam ones like the Wave Zone Glide. Traditional wood boards, crafted from materials like plywood or hardwood, offer a classic feel and are favored by purists for their natural aesthetic and responsiveness on the water. On the other hand, high-performance foam boards, typically made from lightweight materials like epoxy or carbon fiber, boast modern innovations designed to enhance buoyancy, speed, and maneuverability.

Each type of board comes with its own set of unique characteristics that can influence your learning curve. Traditional wood boards, with their solid construction and weighty feel, provide stability and control, making them ideal for beginners looking to build confidence and balance. Conversely, high-performance foam boards, with their lighter weight and sleek design, offer greater agility and speed, perfect for more experienced riders seeking to push the limits of their skills.

When selecting the perfect board for your skill level and preferences, it's essential to consider factors like size, shape, and material. Larger boards provide more stability and floatation, making them ideal for beginners learning the ropes. Meanwhile, smaller boards offer increased maneuverability and are better suited for advanced riders looking to carve and perform tricks. Additionally, pay attention to the shape of the board's nose and tail, as well as the curvature of its rocker, as these features can affect how the board handles in different conditions.

Essential Gear

First and foremost, traction pads are your best friend when it comes to maintaining grip and stability on your board. These adhesive pads, typically made from high-quality materials like EVA foam, provide a textured surface that prevents slipping and sliding, allowing you to confidently execute maneuvers without fear of losing your footing.

But traction pads are just the beginning. The right wax is also essential for ensuring smooth glides across the water's surface. Applying wax to the deck of your board reduces friction, allowing you to effortlessly glide and maneuver with precision and ease. Whether you prefer a sticky tropical wax for warm waters or a harder base coat for cooler conditions, choosing the right wax can make all the difference in your performance.

Of course, safety should always be a top priority when engaging in any water sport, and skimboarding is no exception. That's why it's crucial to invest in safety gear like an ankle leash and helmet. An ankle leash keeps your board tethered to you at all times, preventing it from drifting away in the surf and minimizing the risk of collisions with other beachgoers or obstacles. Meanwhile, a helmet protects your head from potential falls and impacts, ensuring that you can enjoy your skimboarding adventures with peace of mind.

Finding the Perfect Spot

When it comes to embarking on your skimboarding journey, one of the most critical factors to consider is finding the perfect spot to hone your skills. Think of it as selecting the canvas for your masterpiece – the right setting can make all the difference in your experience and progression on the water.

Beginners should prioritize safety when scouting for skimboarding spots. Opting for shallow, flat water with a smooth, sandy bottom minimizes the risk of injury, providing a forgiving surface for practicing maneuvers and building confidence. Spots like Chame Banks, Playa Venao or Playa Serena in Panama are excellent for beginners.

Equally important is avoiding crowded areas, where the hustle and bustle can detract from your focus and increase the likelihood of accidents. Instead, seek out quieter stretches of shoreline at Playa Teta, Maria Chiquita or Guanico in Panama where you can enjoy uninterrupted sessions and immerse yourself fully in the skimboarding experience. 

Of course, safety extends beyond just the surface of the water. Always be mindful of potential hazards lurking beneath the surface, such as rocks, reefs, or strong currents, which can pose serious risks to skimboarders of all skill levels. Take the time to survey the area before hitting the waves, paying close attention to any signs or warnings, and adjusting your plans accordingly.

Two men on Skimboards

Basic Techniques

Becoming intimately acquainted with your skimboarding board is akin to forging a bond with a trusted companion – it's the cornerstone of your journey towards mastery on the waves. 

To kickstart your skimboarding adventure, dedicate ample time to getting comfortable with your board. Start with the basics: the drop. Picture yourself poised on the edge of dry land, eyes fixed on the rippling expanse of water before you. With a burst of energy and a leap of faith, you propel yourself forward, seamlessly transitioning from solid ground to liquid surface. It's a moment of exhilaration, of anticipation, as you feel the water embrace your board and carry you into its embrace.

Next comes paddling out – a fundamental skill that propels you beyond the shallows and into deeper waters. With each stroke of your arms, you push against the resistance of the waves, feeling the rhythmic pulse of the ocean beneath you. It's a test of strength and endurance, but also a moment of quiet reflection as you find your rhythm and settle into the ebb and flow of the tide.

Once you've mastered these foundational maneuvers, it's time to delve deeper into the art of skimboarding with the wrap – a crucial turning technique that allows you to navigate waves with finesse and grace. It's a dance of precision and timing, a symphony of motion and fluidity that allows you to harness the power of the ocean and make it your own.

Advanced Techniques to Aim For

As your confidence and experience grow, so too does your repertoire of techniques and tricks, transforming each session into an exhilarating showcase of skill and creativity. 

One of the first advanced techniques you'll encounter is carving – a graceful maneuver that allows you to harness the power of your body weight to turn sharply on the water's surface. 

But carving is just the beginning. As you continue to hone your skills, you'll discover the exhilarating thrill of riding waves – harnessing the natural energy of the ocean to propel yourself across the water's surface with speed and agility. It's a rush unlike any other, a symphony of motion and rhythm that connects you to the pulse of the ocean itself.

And then, of course, there are the tricks – the daring feats of athleticism and creativity that elevate skimboarding from a simple pastime to an art form. From spins and flips to grabs and slides, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. It's a moment of pure exhilaration, a testament to your skill and creativity as a skimboarder.

Catching air on a Skimboard

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In the dynamic world of skimboarding, even the most seasoned riders are not immune to the occasional misstep. However, by remaining vigilant and learning from these mistakes, you can elevate your skills and minimize the risk of setbacks. 

One common mistake that even experienced skimboarders can fall victim to is neglecting to bend their knees. As you launch yourself onto the water's surface, it's crucial to maintain a low center of gravity by bending your knees and keeping your weight evenly distributed. Failure to do so can result in instability and falls, disrupting your flow and leaving you vulnerable to wipeouts. So, as you glide across the waves, remember to sink down into a comfortable crouch, allowing you to maintain control and stability with each maneuver.

Another pitfall to watch out for is mistiming your drop – the moment when you transition from dry land to the water's surface. This split-second decision can make all the difference between a successful ride and a missed opportunity. Timing is everything – wait too long, and you risk losing momentum; go too soon, and you may find yourself swallowed by the surf. By honing your instincts and paying close attention to wave movement, you can ensure that your drops are timed to perfection, allowing you to seamlessly transition onto the water and carve your path with confidence.

Lastly, always be mindful of wave movement and adjust your approach accordingly to stay on course. The ocean is a dynamic and ever-changing environment, with waves ebbing and flowing in unpredictable patterns. As you navigate the surf, keep a keen eye on the horizon, anticipating the movement of each wave and adjusting your trajectory accordingly. By staying attuned to the rhythm of the ocean, you can adapt your approach in real-time, maximizing your opportunities and minimizing the risk of veering off course.

Tips for Progression and Enjoyment

Above all, it's essential to keep in mind that skimboarding is more than just a sport – it's a thrilling adventure, a journey of self-discovery, and a chance to connect with the natural world in a profound and exhilarating way. As you stand on the shoreline, board in hand, the possibilities stretch out before you like an endless horizon, beckoning you to dive in and embrace the excitement that awaits.

Remember to have fun. Whether you're gliding gracefully across glassy waters or catching waves along the shoreline, skimboarding is all about enjoying the thrill of the ride and savoring the rush of adrenaline that comes with each maneuver. So, let go of any expectations or pressure, and allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, soaking up the sights, sounds, and sensations of the ocean around you.

Like any skill, skimboarding requires dedication and commitment to improvement. Set aside time each week to hit the beach, hone your techniques, and explore new tricks and maneuvers. Embrace the process of learning and growth, and don't be discouraged by setbacks or challenges along the way. Remember, every session is an opportunity to progress and evolve as a skimboarder, so stay patient and trust in your abilities.

Finally, don't be afraid to push your limits. While it's important to respect your boundaries and prioritize safety, it's also essential to challenge yourself and strive for continuous improvement. Whether you're experimenting with advanced techniques, tackling larger waves, or entering competitions, embrace the thrill of pushing beyond your comfort zone and discovering what you're truly capable of.


With the right techniques and mindset, skimboarding can be an incredibly rewarding and exhilarating sport for beginners. Whether you're gliding across glassy waters or catching waves along the shoreline, the key is to stay focused, stay safe, and above all, have fun. So grab your board, hit the beach, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure!!