Best Places to Paddleboard in the United States
Paddleboarding is a fantastic way to get out and enjoy nature, but if you’re brand new to the sport you might not know where you should go. While consulting your local board shop or checking out spots online can help, they typically only cover the most popular places for each state. Many states throughout our country have lakes, beaches, and other waterfronts that will offer you a unique experience you can’t replicate anywhere else in the United States. As such, based on our own experiences and upon the recommendations of trusted paddlers from throughout the country, we wanted to provide you with our favorite places to SUP in the United States!
Below, you’ll find links to individual posts detailing the top 5 to 15 places that we recommend in all fifty states throughout the US. We use a number of factors in determining destinations we should include on our list, including unique features, ease of renting equipment, popularity with other paddleboarders, fishing availability, nearest SUP training, and more. As we’ve had to rely on the help of other paddleboarders to help construct this list, we also invite you to leave a comment on our posts or to send us an email with your own recommended paddleboard destinations. We hope that our lists will help you find a new and exciting destination to visit for your next paddle boarding destination!
We also want to highlight that we also have a list of the top fifteen SUP destinations in the United States. These destinations offer some of the clearest waters, with beautiful vistas, diverse fish populations, large waves, and other attractions that are unmatched throughout the world. From Alaska to Florida, to the rivers throughout Oregon and the beaches of Hawaii, Texas, and New York, these are destinations that you will want to visit with the main goal of having an unforgettable paddleboarding experience. If you are on a SUP dreamcation, be sure to also let other paddlers know how it went to help them have an amazing experience as well.
Lastly, we also wanted to share a few tips to make your next paddleboarding vacation easier. While every state will have great SUP rental options if you know where to go, those with premium iSUPs will be better off taking their own paddleboard with them. Whether traveling by car or by plane though, there are a few things to be aware of to make your trip easier, along with some gear you might be interested in to help you transport your SUP. You can also visit our Best SUP Carriers and Racks page, where you can learn more about SUP transportation options along with our favorite equipment recommendations.
Top Places to Paddleboard in the United States by State:
Continue to check back if the state you are interested in isn’t yet highlighted. We will continuously be adding each state.
Travel Tips for your Next SUP Vacation:
Tip #1: Make Sure You Have a Great Kit Bag:
Different paddle boards come with different bags, ranging from simple backpacks with one oversized compartment to complex roller bags that have several different pouches to slot your equipment in. Not only will the design range though, but the overall durability and quality of a paddleboard gear bag can range from one brand to another. For our part, Red Paddle Co and Bluefin make some of the best paddleboard backpacks on the market if you are looking to upgrade your iSUP backpack. For traditional epoxy backpacks, ISLE and BOTE make great carrying bags that will fit over your hardboard.
Tip #2: Be Sure to Verify Your Luggage Dimensions:
Whether you’re traveling with an epoxy or inflatable SUP, always double check your SUP dimensions before flying with a specific airline. While many companies, mostly inflatable SUP manufacturers, advertise their paddleboards as being airplane travel friendly, it isn’t always the case with inflatable paddleboards. As such, if you find yourself checking in your iSUP, make sure that the actual dimensions fit within the parameters set by the airline you’re traveling with.
Tip #3: Pack Up Your Loose Gear, and Roll Up Your Pump and Paddle:
If you have a travel bag with several different compartments, make sure you store away your loose equipment like your fins, repair kit, leash, and other small objects away from the main compartment. If you only have one central compartment, then get a smaller bag or pouch to put these loose objects in, as failure to do so can cause these objects to break or damage your board in transit. Even a simple plastic bag can be enough of a protective layer to protect your board and your loose gear from damaging each other.
Having a paddle and pump is a bit harder to plan around. While a few backpacks, like the Red Paddle Co bag, have straps you can use to lock down your gear, many backpacks do not and expect you to simply place your pump and paddle on top of your board. Instead, what you can do with many paddleboards is put the paddle and pump on the nose, then roll up your paddleboard from nose to tail. Depending on your SUP, you can insulate your paddle and pump within the SUP itself, rolling it up tight enough that your gear won’t get tossed around the bag even when it gets loaded onto the plane.
If your paddleboard won’t fit into your SUP bag with the paddle and pump rolled up inside, you might just opt for a separate paddle bag instead. While it does cost a bit more, you can often put your paddle and pump inside the bag, then throw the gear on top of the board like you normally would. With a solid paddle bag, you’ll find it far less likely for your equipment to get damaged, even when handled by someone who isn’t careful with your SUP bag.
Tip #4: Be Extra Careful When Driving with Your Boards Strapped on Top:
Driving to the water is far more common than traveling by plane, and if you have an iSUP you can often toss your bag in your trunk. If you have to strap your board to the roof of your car though, be extra careful and considerate while you drive around with a SUP on top. Not only do you need to take wide turns so that you don’t accidentally hit anything with your board, but you also need to remember the impact wind shear will have on your equipment while you travel. Also, double check that your boards have been secured properly, while paddleboards are durably built, it may only take one accident to ruin your board permanently if it falls from the top of your car.
Tip #5: Consider Travel Insurance, especially for Long Distance Trips:
Travel insurance may seem unnecessary, but we recommend it for your next paddleboarding trip for several reasons. If you have to fly, travel insurance can often save you hundreds of dollars if you need to cancel your flight at the last minute. Travel insurance can also cover medical costs if you have a bad accident or can help you replace your paddleboard if it does wind up getting damaged or lost during your trip. There are several different options to choose from, including online agencies or destination agencies, so check out a few different plans to make sure you and your gear are protected for your next SUP vacation.
Tip #6: Make Renting Gear Part of the Experience:
While you may have a premium paddleboard that you adore using, trying out new things is part of the fun of going on vacation. As such, consider just leaving your board at home and, with the money you would have spent on insurance and luggage, spend it on renting gear instead. You’ll have the chance to try out a new paddleboard that you might have never paddled otherwise, and maybe even discover a new brand from who you want to buy your next board when it comes time to upgrade from your current paddleboard.
Conclusion: Explore the World with a Paddleboard!
Paddleboarding is a fantastic sport for many reasons, and one of them is that it lets you have a new perspective on the water that you wouldn’t get with other watercraft. Boats are large and bulky, making them difficult to get into narrow and shallow waters, while kayaks are limited by their low posture and overall limited range of activities. With a paddleboard, you can travel almost anywhere you can see on the water, and try out a large multitude of activities with the same SUP. Whether you’re going to Hawaii to get some yoga in or to the coastal beaches to surf, whether you want to try your luck at fishing on the Columbia or explore the swamps of Louisiana, paddleboards will open up new possibilities to have fun at your next vacation spot. So remember to stay safe and have fun, and be sure to come back and let other paddleboarders know what to expect as they plan their next SUP adventure!
Justin - Chief Paddler
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