Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a great way to have fun on the water and also doubles as a good workout. It’s a fairly easy outdoor activity to pick up, with many people feeling proficient after just 45 minutes or so. As with anything, the more you do something, the more comfortable you’ll be. As you gain confidence on your paddleboard, you may find yourself planning some paddling trips.
Below are seven beautiful places to paddleboard. As a beginner, look for calm flat water in warmer weather with little to no wind. You’ll probably also be most comfortable in a river or lake with as little boat traffic as possible. If an area you’d like to paddleboard in is also a popular boating spot, try going out in the early morning or early evening.
1. The Florida Panhandle
In the Florida panhandle, you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. There you can sink your toes into soft, powdery, white sand, but you can also enjoy paddling around. Florida is one of the states with the least amount of wind, which is great for paddleboarding.
2. The Hawaiian Islands
Stand-up paddleboarding originated in Hawaii—what better place to paddleboard than where it all began? Hawaii is a world-renown SUP destination with lush vegetation, clear water, and waterfalls. You might even see some wildlife like sea turtles. If you’re a beginner, there are areas you can paddle where reefs protect you from large waves. On the island of Kauai, try paddling in Hanalei Bay. You’ll enjoy beautiful mountain views and you can watch surfers from the calm area of the bay. For some calm river paddling with stunning vegetation, head straight to the Hanalei River from Hanalei Bay.
3. Lake Powell, Arizona
Lake Powell is another one of those SUP destinations that is world famous. The rock canyon landscape is otherworldly. It’s a popular boating location so you may want to steer clear of the busy areas. Stick close to the shoreline to avoid the most of the motorboat activity. Summertime is hot with thunderstorms in the afternoon. The fall season still has warm waters but less wind, and it’s less busy. Due to the vast size of Lake Powell (186 miles long with 1,960 miles of shoreline), a trip with a guide will give you the best chance of paddling through peaceful canyons with glassy water. There are many companies that can provide you with a guide in the area.
4. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking, pristine Alpine lake. Located in California and Nevada it is the largest Alpine lake in the United States. The serene blue waters make it a beautiful place for paddleboarding. Zephyr Cove, DL Bliss Park, and Emerald Bay are some popular spots for paddleboarders. An inflatable paddleboard is a great way to travel with your own paddleboard. Lake Tahoe, like many paddle destinations, has many places to rent a board if you don’t want to travel with your own. What’s great at Lake Tahoe is that many SUP outfitters deliver or provide the needed car rack for you to be able to transport your rental around.
5. Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River and other rivers in North Central Florida like the Ichetucknee are warm, calm, and experience very little wind. This makes them perfect for learning and practicing SUPing. The warm temperatures make falling in the water no big deal. In fact, you might jump off for a swim. The Ichetucknee is a spring so you can paddle upstream and then float back down. The Suwannee is a calm and paddling down the river may feel more comfortable than open water or a large body of water like a lake. Spring is likely your best bet for this part of Florida. Intense heat and mosquitoes can hamper your visit in the summer if you’re unprepared. The black waters do make it difficult to see if your fin might catch on tree roots and logs so paddle carefully!
6. The Florida Keys & Dry Tortugas
The Florida Keys are a great spot for SUPing and explore Florida’s mangroves. Dry Tortugas National Park is also accessible by ferry and seaplane from Key West. Make sure to check with park officials as some routes take you across open waters and currents. For easier paddleboarding, there are quick paddles near Garden Key (where the visitor’s center is located). Bush Key and Long Key are closest, and paddling out to these only takes a few hours.
7. Your Hometown
As great as it is to paddleboard at a vacation destination, paddling in or near your hometown can be relaxing, and a good way to practice SUPing and stay fit. Near your hometown try looking for waterways through the city, state parks, marinas, recreation areas, and nearby rivers. Natural backdrops are beautiful, but a cityscape backdrop has its own charm.
Where are some of your favorite places to go paddleboarding? Let us know in the comments below!