The longest flight in the world is from Sydney to Dallas, taking 17 hours between take off and arrival. I say this why? After having scoured some of the best, most unique beaches in Australia and New Zealand, I now find myself in the birthplace of SUP – the United States. My mission, once again, is to bring to you some of the finest paddle-boarding spots I could find in this magnificent, diverse country. It’s time to slip into adventure mode… But first, a trip down memory lane.
The Birth Of SUP
It’s the 1960s. With the burgeoning hippie culture and flower power movement, surfing has struck a popular chord. The idyllic beaches of Hawaii are teeming with visitors and tourists all trying to learn and master riding the waves. The surf instructors sense an opportunity to add to their income. When their students are out on the water, they stand on their board and paddle out with a camera hanging around their neck. Pictures are clicked and sold to pupils. Thus was born SUP, which started out as an odd income-boosting activity.
A SUP Paradise
The rich geographical diversity of the United States has bestowed on us many a sparkling flatwater beach. In other words, a SUP paradise. Travelling from the East coast to the West coast, I have handpicked some of the finest spots where you can lay down your board and ‘walk on the water’.
The 5 Best SUP Beaches
Without further ado, here’s my top 5 SUP beaches in the United States:
Hale’iwa Beach Park, Ohau, Hawaii
The Hale’iwa Beach Park is more a well-kept local tradition than a tourist one. This only adds to the mystique and allure of the sun-kissed spot. When I first stepped on the great expanse of blue waters and golden sand, I must admit that it was love at first sight. There is a perfect spot called the Puaena Point, which you can find on the Waimea Bay side of the Anahulu Bridge. The waves here are low and the flatwater offers least resistance to your paddle-board. Beginners will love the easy waters, while the more experienced will find touring along the coastline an exhilarating experience.
Getting There: The beach park is located on the eastern tip of the Hale’iwa town. You will need to drive down. The road trip, however, is an experience in itself. Cruise along Kamehameha Highway/route 83 West if you are driving from the north. Take route 99, which then merges onto Kamehameha Highway/ route 83 East if you’re coming from the south. There are signposts located along the routes that will guide to the beach park.
Other Things To Do: Apart from camping and roasting marshmallows under the clear night sky, you could go for a swim in the refreshing waters. Or simply take a long, leisurely stroll on the soft sand.
Santa Barbara Harbour, California
Having originated in Hawaii, the sport of SUP then made its way to sunny California. I thought I ought to do the same as well. This is more of your traditional tourist spot where many a SUP and surf fanatics can be seen. The calm waters of the harbour provide an ideal surface to paddle on. Once you are on your board, you can take in the spectacular natural sights of the coastal city, or just paddle along the coastline and be at peace.
Getting There: Santa Barbara city is closest to Hollywood. I advise taking a road trip. Once you get there, you can leave your vehicle behind and try a water taxi, public bus, or even bike down to the harbour.
Other Things To Do: This is perhaps one of the most happening SUP spots not only in the county, but in the world. Once you’re done paddle-boarding you can take in the rich culture of the city that offers everything: right from tantalising dining options, stimulating art exhibitions, and exciting cultural fests.
Coco Plum Beach, Florida
The beach is just as exotic as its name. Coco Plum segues into a wetland area that hosts a rich variety of marine life. This is one of the few SUP spots in the world where you will find stingrays and manatees swimming below your board in the crystal clear waters. The pleasant weather and gentle winds only encourage you to stay out in the water for longer.
Getting There: The beach is located on the ten-mile long island of Marathon. It forms a part of the popular Florida Keys water network. The easiest and fastest mode of transport is a charter flight. You can reach Marathon by road as well. However, there is only a single point of entry and exit, which can be crowded during peak hours.
Other Things To Do: Marathon offers an ideal spot for a family vacation. You can do boat cruises, kayaking, and snorkelling.
Redondo Beach, California
There’s something about SUP and California that make them a spiritual pair. But the real reason why I have another location of the sun drenched valley on my list is because Redondo offers a slightly different paddle boarding experience. Here, the focus is a bit more on fitness and yoga with your board. Can you imagine burning calories with the blue waters beneath you, a clear sky above you, and a rising sun in front of you? Redondo Beach makes this happen. As someone said, ‘This is pure bliss.’ Feel like going whale watching? Redondo Beach is known for blue whales!
Getting There: This is one of the three beach cities located in Los Angeles county. You can drive down using the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), or the San Diego Freeway. You could even take the metro (Green Line) and hop off at Marine Avenue. Another option is the bus.
Other Things To Do: Once you’re done working out on your board, you can bite into delicious treats at the pier, which is lined with many an interesting eatery and café. The Hopkins Wilderness park offers a scenic walk and an attractive picnic spot.
Black Sand Beach, Alaska
Yes, you read that right. I am recommending a beach in perennially cold Alaska as a top 5 pick. The reason is pretty simple: where else can you SUP with a majestic glacier in the background. The serenity and quietness of Black Sand makes it a unique experience for anyone who’s been there, including me. You may want to have your camera ready for this spot.
Getting There: the good news is that it is located within driving distance (60 miles) from Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city. You can get to the city via air, road, or take a ferry.
Other Things To Do: Since you will need to camp at Prince William Sound, you could take a glacier cruise after you’re done paddle-boarding. The really adventurous can take a dip in the near cold water, or better yet, swim in it.