Your First Surfboard should be CheapWhile learning how to surf, you're going to ding and scratch a board if you really put it to use, so don't spend too much cash. A $400 surfboard will ding as easy as a $100 surfboard. It's not about looks, so ignore minor yellowing and small dings.
However, dings that show foam or any delamination should be avoided. As a beginner, you're going to beat the heck out of your surfboard, so pay the least amount of cash possible.
Your First Surfboard should be Big and ThickAll the cool girls and guys have small, narrow surfboards, right? So what! You're not cool yet. Get a board that will give flotation and allow for easy paddling.
A good average size board for a beginning surfer would be around 7 feet long and 19-21 inches wide and at least 2-3 inches thick. This all depends on your size, so be sure you can comfortably carry and wield the surfboard in the water. Just make sure your surfboard stands at least a foot taller than you.
Generally, a 120 pound surfer should look for a 6 feet 10 inch board while a 140 pounder might look towards a 7 feet 2 inch board. At 170 pounds, try to go above 7 feet 6 inches.
Don't Worry about Surfboard ShapeDon't worry about the tail shape or number of fins on your surfboard.
These parts of a surfboard shouldn't matter. For the first 3-6 months, you really shouldn't worry about turning or doing maneuvers any way, so whether your surfboard is a swallow tail or a pintail or even if your surfboard only has one fin is really pointless.
For the record, 3-fin boards are the easiest to turn and the most functional fin set up for the advanced and intermediate surfer.
Several companies make soft surfboards that consist of a bodyboard-like material, and the fins are flexible to help prevent injuries while learning your craft. This is a good way to get the kids up and riding without a ride to the emergency room.
These are the most basic rules to choosing your first surfboard. It doesn't matter if you buy a board from a friend, a local surf shop, or from the Internet; just find a big, cheap board that you can carry to the beach go get stoked and learn how to surf.