The minimal surfboard (aka the mini Malibu) dates back to the 60’s when the shortboard revolution first began. Sometimes referred to as a funboard, the minimal is suited for small surf conditions and is the ideal board for beginner surfers. A combination of a longboard (wide) nose and overall volume has been combined with a shortboards 3 fin set-up to give learners plenty of buoyancy as well as some degree of manoeuvrability. Typically between 7’ & 8’6” in length this shape will often be the first choice of board for beginners.

Ideal surf conditions for the Mini Mal

The minimal is the perfect summer board when learning conditions are at their best. Most surf schools operate at this time with seasonally weak and small waves on offer and these are the exact conditions the board performs well in. This would also be the perfect time for beginners to practice on their own when waves are less powerful and are somewhere between waist and chest high. In larger and more power conditions, usually found in the winter, the board will be far harder to manage and progression would be more difficult.

The types of minimal

The Soft top

The minimal is available in various forms of construction. The soft top is the most basic form and is used by nearly all surf schools. As the name suggests, the exterior is a foam top layer that is very forgiving when it comes to wiping out. Even the fins are flexible in case of impact. It’s the best choice for first timers and those looking to surf just a few times a year.

Soft Top
Soft Top surfboards (above)

The Pop Out

The pop out or moulded board would be the next level up in terms of performance. Much less forgiving but slightly more performance orientated than a soft top, these boards are much harder & heavier than foam constructed soft tops.

BIC surfboard
Pop Out Surfboard (above)


Minimals and funboards made from Epoxy are similar to the pop out but offer a much lighter version that’s ultimately easier to surf and progress. This type of construction would typically be the most popular type of board for those looking to develop their skills further after having a few lessons on a soft top.

NSP epoxy
Epoxy Mini mal (above)

Hand shaped surf tech & PU

At the higher end of the market, these boards are even lighter and more progressive. Surf Techs offer the best choice but at a price tag. PU boards can match them on weight and performance but ultimately are much less resilient (and will ding) which is a huge consideration when learning.

PU surfboard
Hand shaped Mini Mal (above)


* Ideal for learning to surf
* Perfect for the occasional surfer
* Catches waves easily
* Performs in marginal or small conditions
* Harder to snap
* Excellent resale value


* Hard to duck dive
* Not suited for large or hollow waves
* Limited performance
* Hard to travel with

For those new to the sport it can be a little overwhelming which way to go when it comes to purchasing your first board. Our advice is pretty simple. Firstly get a few lessons, see if you like it. Then if you’ve caught the bug, set your budget and go from there. Buying “used” is a genuine & affordable option and when you progress and want to down size, you can usually get most your money back when reselling it. The most important thing is to get a minimal in the first place. Don’t miss this stage in the early days as you’ll progress far quicker than you would slogging away on a board that’s too small for you. Also be sure to check out our Beginner Surfboard Guide which includes even more information to get you started! 

Good luck & happy surfing!

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