How to Sandboard

Enjoyed since the times of the Ancient Egyptians, and revived in the 1940s, sandboarding is combination of snowboarding, surfing, and skating, only it's on the sand dunes instead of the wave, snow, or streets.[1] Yet, even if you've never snowboarded, surfed, or skateboarded, you'll pick up sandboarding easily enough with some know-how, determination, and plenty of practice.

One of the great things about sandboarding is how it can be used when the surf's poor, the snow's gone, or the skateboarding areas are crowded, and even better, it's a sport that can take you around the world to find suitable places for sand boarding, so it's a great excuse for traveling! In this article, you'll learn a few methods for getting started in sandboarding, but naturally, nothing beats getting out there and trying.


  1. Image titled Sandboard Step 1
    Get a sandboard. A sandboard is similar to a snowboard. It has a specially waxed base and has bindings attached to it which attach to your feet so that you can't lose it as you sand board down the hill. The sandboards come in a variety of designs (twin tips, square tails, and swallow tails) and waxes aimed at increasing speed, so it's a good idea to discuss the options with the retailer. You will also need to decide between a terrain board (cheaper, perfect for shorter, less steep runs) and a full-size board (more expensive, for larger dunes and greater speeds).[2]Whatever board you choose, it should come up to about your mouth in height. The sorts of places that might sell a sandboard include surfboard and snowboard retailers, and outdoor recreation outfitters; perhaps call them before visiting to check they have stock. It is also possible to make your own sandboard using instructions found online; just search for "sandboard instructions".[3]
    • It's a good idea to get a helmet for safety, and some knee and elbow pads for buffeting when you fall, although this is personal preference; if you do fall, sand is pretty soft and forgiving although speed can make a difference as to how you land and it's always possible to break something or get a concussion.
    • Get some wax. This will need to be reapplied according to the instructions provided with your board and/or the relevant wax product.
    • In terms of clothing, shorts and a t-shirt are perfect![4]
    • You could also use a normal snowboard if you have one; however, be aware that purpose-built sandboards come with different wax styles matched to different sand types and climate for best performance. You can certainly swap the straps and boots between both sports.
    • Consider hiring a sandboard before purchasing one. That way, if you don't like it, you haven't outlaid too much money.
  2. Image titled Sandboard Step 2
    Choose sand dunes or sand hills that are open for recreation. There are plenty of places with sand dunes, probably even in a landlocked country because sand is plentiful. Look for dunes near beaches, rivers, and in arid zones such as deserts. Also check that the sport is authorized for the dunes you're using, as some dunes are protected by law to prevent erosion or scaring off species nesting or feeding in the dunes. Find out about the state of protection before using the sand dunes; you can ask at local ranger stations or government land/environment offices.
    • Don't use dunes or hills with dune grass growing on them because the boarding will damage their fragile roots. Choose only hills or dunes that have just sand.[5]
    • Most sandboarding locations are currently free, apart from a few specific parks set up for sandboarding. This is part of the attraction of sandboarding for many – low start-up costs, and a lot of free places often not filled with people.
  3. Image titled Sandboard Step 3
    Try almost flat terrain and skating exercises if you're a beginner. If you're already experienced with snowboarding or skateboarding, proceed to the next step. For the beginner, try the following suggestions to help you "get a feel" for the board on the sand and a sense of balance.
    • Spend some time "skating". Simply strap in only one foot, and use the other foot to propel you and the board around the sand. Try this on flat terrain and on very small sand humps.
    • Now, strap both feet in. Have someone push you slowly along the almost flat terrain first off. This will help you get a "feel" for the sand.
    • In general, as a total beginner it should take about one day of practicing with a sandboard before you start to feel confident enough to stay on your feet, ride, and make a few turns.[6]
  4. Image titled Sandboard Step 4
    Practice on a small sand hill with very little drop. If you've already snowboarded or skateboarded, you'll probably already find the balancing easy enough and the feel won't be so strange for you as it will be for a beginner.[7] (Nevertheless, even if you're a beginner, don't fret, as you'll soon pick up the technique.) Find a small sand dune or sand hill and make sure it's not too steep, as you'll likely have to spend some time just getting used to the maneuvering the sandboard before you can cope with steeper gradients and drops.
    • The best type of dune is one covered with dry sand. Wet sand will stick to the board, either causing it to stop or to slow down considerably, which defeats the purpose of going down fast!
    • If at any point you feel yourself getting into trouble, try sitting down.[8]
  5. Image titled Sandboard Step 5
    On the small hill, try the following drill to improve your ability to board on your heels:
    • Strap both feet in.
    • Go down the hill on your heels. You do this by pulling up on your toes. Don’t pull up to much or you're going to fall on your butt.
    • Now let up on your heels so you can go down the hill. If you pick up too much speed or want to stop pull up on your toes again.
    • At the bottom of the hill, unstrap one of your straps. Preferably the one that you strapped up at the top of the hill. Now make your way back up to the top of the hill.
  6. Image titled Sandboard Step 6
    Repeat the above exercise, but this time working your toes, rather than your heels:
    • After you have strapped yourself in, turn yourself around and put pressure on your toes, to stabilize yourself at the top of the hill. Remember not too much pressure, or you will fall. Let the pressure off your toes to start going down the hill. If you start going too fast, put pressure on your toes to slow down or stop.
  7. Image titled Sandboard Step 7
    Continue going down the hill, each time increasing your skill in different areas. For example, start pushing towards more aggressive turns and stances:
    • Go back to the top of the hill. You're going to go down again on your heels. Put pressure on your right foot so you can weave to the right of the hill. Then put pressure on your left foot so you can weave to the left of the hill. Continue doing this until you reach the bottom.
    • Try the above again, but on your toes instead of your heels.
    • Repeat the above drills, but put more pressure on your right foot so your board is facing straight down the hill. Then start to put pressure on your toes. Now you should be on your toes going to the left part of the hill.
    • If you want to get back to your heels, put pressure on your front foot until your board is facing straight down the hill. Now put pressure on your heels.
  8. Image titled Sandboard Step 8
    Practice the above steps till you are comfortable with your skills. Then move up to a large or steeper sand hill. Master steeper hills gradually until you feel completely comfortable with what you're doing. And don't forget to have fun!
  9. Image titled Sandboard Step 9
    Learn sandboarding tricks. As you improve with your balance, gradient, and general sense of control with the sandboard, start learning to do sandboard tricks. There are a number of different tricks possible, and some of these can end up getting you into competition level at such events as the Rail Jam. You can do many of the tricks you'd do on a snowboard with the sand board, such as 360s, 720s, back flips, rodeos, and switch blind 180s, once you're good enough with the board and get the speed right.[9]
  10. Image titled Sandboard Step 10
    Join a club or association that promotes sandboarding. If one doesn't exist in your local area, consider starting one up to attract like-minded people to share your fun times with. From here, you can also consider entering competitions including the Sandboarding World Championship, the Pan-American Sandboarding Challenge, and the Sand Sports Super Show.
    • Yearly sandboarding championships are held in Oregon, California, and Nevada, with most being held between June and September, although some competitions are held during winter in warmer states such as Nevada. Competitions include drag races and slalom events.
    • Internationally, countries like Australia and Chile hold sandboarding competitions each year.


  • If sand boarding isn't feeling so great, consider sand tobogganing; you can lie or sit on it and simply enjoy an easy ride down the sand dune!
  • If you're a surfer or a bodyboarder, throw the sandboards into the car at the same time. If the surf turns out to be less than optimal, take out the sandboard and play on the dunes instead!
  • Wear clothes that can get dirty, ruined or wet. Be prepared to get wet because at the bottom of most sand hills there is water.
  • Dune buggies are sometimes used for large sand hills to get you back up easily. If not, get ready to climb back up that sand dune!
  • A first aid kit might be helpful if you cut yourself. Also, bring water, sunscreen, a hat, and some snacks.
  • Places where sandboarding is hot include the United States, Peru (and other South American countries), France, Australia, Germany, and Japan. There are a lot of excuses to travel in just this range of countries!
  • Advanced sandboarders sometimes don't use bindings, which increases the risk. Until you know what you're doing, don't try this as it can be dangerous.


  • Wear a helmet. You will fall. It will hurt, so be prepared for some cuts and scrapes at best.
  • It's likely that you'll be sore the next day or two.
  • Do not sandboard on fragile dunes under protection. Find out first!
  • Only use recommended waxes for waxing your sandboard. The sand dune environment is fragile and leaving behind residues like CFCs (chlorinated fluoro-carbons) and other chemicals on the sand is not only frowned upon by those maintaining the dunes but it disrespects the environmental ethics maintained by most sandboarders.[10]

Things You'll Need

  • Sandboard or snowboard
  • Suitable clothes for sandboarding
  • Dunes or sand hills

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