Boards come in all shapes and sizes. Most common you will find the so-called twinip (or bi-directional or TT). A twintip looks quite similar to a snowboard or wakeboard. With a twintip you can go left or right without switching your feet. The other common board is the directional. The directional can only go “forward” much like a small surfboard with straps to put your feet in. There are other types of boards, but let’s start on your first board!
Some of the kiters who learned the sport a while ago learned to kiteboard on directional boards, but nowadays most people learn directly on twin-tips. When you start learning it is advisable to start with a slightly bigger board than what the more experienced kiters are using. A larger board is more stable, has more flotation but also that it starts planing much earlier. Smaller boards steer quicker and require more technique to get better quickly. So generally your first board should be a second hand twin-tip between 135 and 145cm long and 40cm wide (approximately).
Once you can go in both directions and can get upwind you’ll need a new board. Try out many different ones (just like with the kites) to find out what you prefer. So buy something that fits your style and is more comfortable. You can also search for a second hand board, since the market is full of them. Obviously there is nothing better than your own brand new board.
For most kiters the rule of thumb is that they get a smaller board once they get better. A short and wide board has a lot of “pop” and is great for doing the new tricks! If you are often kiteboarding in the sea you’ll eventually run into waves. For beginners the waves are just a nuisance, but for the more advanced folks the waves are a whole new ballgame. Wave riding with a kite is fine with a twin-tip, but with a directional board it becomes a different experience altogether. Catching that 3 meter wave just on the lip and ripping it to shreds is just as exhilarating as a massive 10 meter jump!