Last Updated on August 9, 2022

Sandboarding, sand sledding and even sand skiing are all relatively easy to practice if you use proper equipment and follow a few basic steps. If you are not sure how to sandboard, make sure to prepare everything you need in advance.

Gliding down sand dunes can feel like a daunting experience because this type of terrain is not very slippery and as sliding-friendly as, say, snow – but when done right, it turns out to be very thrilling and rewarding experience which will leave you asking for more.

Follow these guidelines and instructions for sandboarding to make sure you have a smooth and fun ride!

Sandboarding how to
Girl sandboarding. Photo courtesy of Collinsalex2. CC-BY-SA

Sandboarding Checklist

Before your trip

  • Check for available sandboard rental stores near your destination.
  • Alternatively, you can buy your own sandboard (for standing) or sand sled (for sitting / bodyboarding).
  • If bringing your own equipment don’t forget to also take some sandboard wax with you.
  • Check what are the most appropriate sandboard-friendly clothes based on your location (desert or beach). You will likely need closed-toe shoes and long sleeves if you are going to the desert.
  • Check the weather. Even the driest locations can be occasionally hit by rain and wet sand makes sandboarding a bit trickier. Strong winds and sand storms can also ruin your plans, so watch out for weather alerts a few days before you leave.
  • Make sure to have sandboarding insurance coverage.

At the site

  • Consider joining an organized tour if this is your first time sandboarding or if you are in a foreign location with very tall dunes or difficult types of terrain (e.g. if you are volcanoboarding).
  • If you have the option to, you can use a sand buggy or quad to climb on top of the dune. Otherwise, you’ll have to hike on foot and climb back the dune after each ride.
  • Leave your belongings somewhere safe – including phone and wallet – and don’t wear anything that you care about. Anything that you have on yourself when dune surfing will end up lost or covered in sand!
  • Make sure to wear sunscreen and have access to plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Sandboarding in Peru
Man sandboarding. Photo courtesy of Rick McCharles.

On top of the dune

  • Place your sand board or sled on the ground, with the base facing you, and apply wax thoroughly to make it slippery. Covering every inch, including the edges. You don’t need to wax the top side of the board, only the base. Pour a bit of sand on the base with your hand to make sure that it doesn’t stick.
  • This is a good time to wear your desert goggles, shemagh scarf, and gloves if you have any.

How to sandboard

  • Place your feet on top of the board. Secure yourself using your sandboard bindings or foot straps. If your board does not come with foot straps, you should stick to smaller dunes. 
  • Slightly bend your knees and use your dominant leg to push the board forward across the dune until you are finally off the edge, using your body weight as a motor.
  • Enjoy the ride!

How to sand sled

  • Either sit on the board (up to two people) or lay down on your belly. Some sleds come with hand grip holders – make use of them!
    • Whether you are sitting or lying on your belly, you can use both of your arms to push yourself off the dune.
    • Try to use your body to keep your weight centered while you are sliding. Raise your chin and legs to maintain balance.
    • Have fun sledding down the dune.

After the ride

  • Congratulations, you did it! Hopefully in one piece. Take some time to recharge, clean the sand off every inch of your being, and drink some water.
  • That was fun, wasn’t it? Time to do that all over again! Remember that you will have to hike back on top of the dune and re-apply sandboard wax to your board after every ride.

Video: How to Sandboard – Tips for Getting Started

How to Sandboard: Tips for Getting Started

Basic sandboarding maneuvers

Side Slipping

This simple exercise is good for two things when learning how to sandboard: firstly to learn how to stop, and secondly how to keep the edges up. Without knowing those two techniques you will be eating lots of sand.

Standing with your toes pointing downhill, stay at the edge of the dune slope. Keep your toes high and dig your heels in. You shouldn’t be going anywhere at this point.

Now lower your toes until the board is nearly flat. You should begin to descend the hill. Lift your toes and press your heels into the ground to slow yourself down. Then try standing with your toes in the sand facing up the hill.

To go backward or slow down, bring your heels down or lift them up. Make sure to get it correctly since catching that edge could cause a serious fall.

Stopping

You are now riding straight downhill. You must first master stopping before you can proceed to learn how to sandboard. Gain some speed on a straight, descending path. Slide the back leg out so that you are facing the slope as soon as you touch the flat sand.

By pushing forward with your hips, shift your weight to your front foot to accomplish this. Turn your shoulders and hips in the front. Now lift your toes and extend your rear foot. When sliding, distribute your weight evenly across both feet.

To get this right, it takes some practice. Avoid developing the practice of utilizing this technique to reduce speed while riding because it tends to quickly remove the wax from the base. Make short, rapid twists to reduce your speed slightly, and larger, sharper turns to reduce it significantly.

Turning

Learning to sandboard, turning movements can be the most challenging. On soft, well-aerated dunes, it is typically simpler; on compact sand, it is more challenging.

Depending on the type of sand and its state at that specific dune, you will learn how sharply you can turn when learning to sandboard. On dry sand, you can typically dig your edges in deeply and turn pretty sharply, but not on wet sand. If you make too sharp a turn, the base’s edge will lose some of its wax and begin to snag, making it challenging to move straight. In challenging circumstances, the key is to turn little sums on either side of the board.

Let’s begin turning. Try turning in just one direction at first. Set off down the hill in a straight line. Once your weight is evenly distributed, begin turning on your toe side by elevating your heel just a little bit and pressing your knees forward. Hold it in place, and you can begin cutting across the dune.

In sandboarding, the way you position your body is crucial. Keep your hips, shoulders, and eyes all in line with the board while standing straight and in the center. When making a sharp turn, your body will lean into the turn while your hips will be rotated to point in the direction of the turn. Don’t bend your back at this time; keep your body upright.

You don’t need to twist your body wildly or slide your rear foot to turn because this is a very subtle movement.

You must ride straight in order to turn on your heel side. To bring your board onto the heel edge, lift your toes. Keep your weight in the front. You’ll make a little turn in the direction of the turn using your hips and shoulders. You’ll turn if you hold it there.

When turning, there is a delay when you lift the edge of the board; wait for it to engage before making a sharper turn. Notice how your shoulders and hips are aligned as a result of your body turning with the board.

Linking turns

When linking turns, you’ll make a left turn first, then a right turn.

Turn onto your toe edge to begin. At this point, you ought to be pivoting and making a little turn. Lift your toes and lower your heel edge. You will lean into the turn as your heal edge begins to turn. Your eyes, shoulders, and hips should all turn in the same direction as the board. Now make the other turn.

When learning to sandboard, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you must first go to your edge before leaning into the turn, while also keeping upright during the entire motion.

Avoid riding too heavily on your back leg since this may reduce your ability to control the board when turning and cause it to accelerate quickly.

Ready for more advanced maneuvers? Learn about sandboarding jumps and tricks


Sandsports


Sandboarding
Sand Sledding
Volcano boarding

Sand Skiing
Sand Kiting

Desert Racing
Dune Bashing
Desert Hiking & Camping
Desert Travel
Desert Camping
Desert Running

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