Sandboarding is a fun, exciting sport that also happens to take place in breathtaking landscapes, from the coastal views of South America to the immense sand seas of the Sahara desert in Africa.

While exciting, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up spending more time on your backside than sliding down sand dunes. If you’re thinking about trying sand surfing or sand skiing for the first time, keep these ten beginner skiing tips in mind.

How to sandboard
Sit and ride the Dunes and have fun. Photo courtesy of Sandsurfing101

1. Study your destination in advance

Sandboarding can be a very different and unique experience depending on where you practice it. The climate, weather conditions, steepness and height of the dunes and presence of facilities nearby are all things you should check before travelling. The best slopes for dune boarding are usually found in the high desert – you’ll find them in California’s Mojave Desert, Colorado, Peru and Namibia – but these also require more effort and dedicated equipment. Beginners and small children will have more fun hitting the smaller dunes at the beach, and there are plenty of sand sledding opportunities on the coasts of Southern California, Mexico, Brazil, and all over Australia and New Zealand. Want a true challenge? Head to Nicaragua, Indonesia or Vanuatu for some action-packed sandboarding on active volcanos. No matter where you are going, make sure to thorough research your destination and prepare yourself accordingly.

2. Get your boards ready

If you are sandboarding for the first time, it’s a good idea to join a sandboarding tour which will provide you with all that you need as well as an instructor. Most popular sandboarding destinations – like the Sand Master Park in Oregon, the Huacachina Oasis in Peru and the Tottori Sand Dunes in Japan – will provide you with this option. If you are in a more remote location than try to locate the nearest sandboard rental – if you are unable to find one, that leaves you two choices: to order a sandboard online or build your own from scratch. If you are at the beach or sledding down an artificial sandhill like those near L.A., a regular beach sled or toboggan may suffice, in any other case, we don’t recommend using anything but a Formica-base sandboard / sandsled. Using a snowboard on sand will end up with your board getting, well, sanded.

3. Wax, wax, wax

Wax is not only useful in sandboarding, it is essential! Today there many brands of sandboard wax made specifically to enhance the performance of your board and make you ride faster. Even if you don’t want to invest in a commercial wax, it’s easy to just make an alternative yourself. Any wax is better than no wax, and remember that it needs to be applied to the base of your board after every ride. To wax your sandboard properly, turn your board upside down (with the base facing you) and rub your wax onto every inch of its base until is completely covered. Pour some sand onto it, if it does not stick, you are good to go.

4. Avoid peak sun hours

If you are going to the desert, it is imperative that you go hit the dunes either in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is out but temperatures still relatively low. Sandboarding in the afternoon when the sun is at its strongest is a recipe for trouble: you’ll end up getting sunburnt at best, having your face scorched by hot sand after falling at worst. While some locations are milder than others (again: do your research!) you will want to pack plenty of sunscreen and water with you. Food is also not a bad idea – remember that much of the workout you’ll do while sandboarding comes from hiking up to the dune before sliding.

Sandboards and sand sleds
Ranger Patrick Sand Sledding with Son. Photo courtesy of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

5. Dress to impress

Sandboard clothing is rather minimalistic and highly depends on the location you are going to be sand surfing at. Once again, desert destinations are a bit more demanding as you are likely going to need layered clothing (temperature drops sharply at night), footwear so that you don’t end up scorching your feet on hot sand, perhaps a face scarf and goggles to protect your face from wind and dust. If you are on top of a volcano attempting some lavaboarding, then all of the aforementioned is mandatory. At the beach, however, it’s generally fine to go sandboarding barefoot and bare chest – you really don’t need any special equipment apart from your board.

6. Make sure your travel insurance covers sand sports

Sandboarding often takes you to exciting destinations all over the world. Make sure not to ruin your trip should something go wrong – sandboarding and sand skiing are extreme sports and accidents can happen. And because they are such niche activities, most insurance providers do not even know they exist, which means they might give you trouble filing a claim. We highly recommend checking out World Nomad Insurance as their package includes most outdoor sports and desert activities including sand boarding, sand skiing, dirt boarding, dune buggy etc. You can learn more about why we think World Nomads Insurance is the best sandboard insurance out there.

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