Paddleboard Enthusiasts Will Love These 25 Destinations
Stand-up paddleboarding (otherwise known as SUP) has taken the waterways by storm all across the United States — and for good reason. It’s more forgiving than similar watersports like kayaking or canoeing in terms of physical ability and skill, but it offers the same amount of zip as a more traditional form of aquatic transportation.
Whether you’re looking for casual paddleboarding off the coast of California or you want a more extreme sport-oriented trip, we highlighted the coolest places in the U.S. to take to the water — from Alaska to Hawaii and everywhere in between. Just grab your paddleboard and go!
Palos Verdes Coast
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Where to stay: Terranea Resort
What Makes the Palos Verdes Coast So Awesome
The Palos Verdes Coast is going to be your best bet for a local getaway in Southern California. Here, you’ll experience the unspoiled beauty of California’s coastline — which is no happy accident.
This protected coastline is guided by the philosophy of ecological sustainability and retains a level of natural coastal fauna and flora that you can easily appreciate on the back of a paddleboard.
What Makes the Martin County Scenic Blueway Trail So Awesome
With beautiful waters and an active-yet-laid-back lifestyle, it’s easy to see why paddleboarding is such a treasured pastime for visitors and locals at the Martin County Scenic Blueway Trail. The paddling trails span 37.7 miles of two river systems — the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River.
Note that there are 13 different public launch or stopover sites along the trail for easy access.
What Makes Sammamish River So Awesome
“I rented my board at Bothell Landing Park, and it was such a peaceful trip! It's a slow-moving river, as you don't even notice a current,” says Tabitha Bailar, founder of Travel Compositions. “This made for a stressless paddle because I didn't have to worry about balancing against waves.”
Think of it as almost pondlike, as underwater grass, lilly pads and reeds decorate the water. Ducks and geese toodle by you without a care in the world. The river runs alongside a bike trail if you go east, but paddling west, you're passing by backyards of quiet homes and eventually will end up in Washington Lake.
What Makes the St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park So Awesome
Want to paddle through mangrove-lined coves, spot common Florida Keys reef fish and snorkel on what feels like a private island? Look no further than St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park!
This classic Florida barrier island is accessible only by boat or paddleboard — which makes it that much more intimate and enjoyable.
Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach
Location: Healdsburg, California
Where to stay: Boon Hotel + Spa
What Makes the Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach So Awesome
Looking for a spot that’s both convenient and a viable option for beginner paddlers? Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach should be right up your alley, says John Menth, owner of Russian River Paddle Boards.
Not only is it quite wide and comfortable for getting your bearings, it’s also very close to the parking lot — which makes it easy to transport your board down to the water’s edge.
What Makes Kealakekua Bay So Awesome
Expect some of the bluest, clearest waters you’ve ever encountered as you set off on your paddleboard on the Kealakekua Bay.
According to Bailar, chances are good you’ll wind up paddling next to dolphins and other marine creatures — but beware that the waves can get vicious. You’ll likely end up in the water more than a few times!
What Makes Bear Glacier So Awesome
Thought paddleboarding was only for warm climates and summer days? Think again!
Paddling through Bear Glacier in Seward involves making your way through a 12-mile ice tongue and saltwater lagoon that’s packed with massive icebergs, snow-peaked mountains and visits with seals and even black bears in some cases.
Riverfront Regional Park
Location: Healdsburg, California
Where to stay: Hotel Healdsburg
What Makes Riverfront Regional Park So Awesome
Riverfront Regional Park in Sonoma County is located just west of Windsor and is considered to be a visually striking spot for amateur and more experienced paddlers alike.
According to Menth, the park is packed with natural splendor, including nesting herons and egrets in trees.
What Makes AguaHedionda Lagoon So Awesome
The AguaHedionda Lagoon — otherwise known as the Carlsbad Lagoon — is an excellent option for wellness-focused paddleboarding enthusiasts.
Here, you’ll find endless guided tours that weave in breathwork, yoga and meditation classes that all take place while you’re in the middle of the lagoon.
What Makes Fort Loudoun Lake So Awesome
Known for its million-dollar views of the Great Smoky Mountains, paddling your way through Fort Loudoun Lake is going to be a breathtaking experience. The Yarberry Campground offers an easily accessible pathway down to the lake that is incredibly uncrowded and free from other people.
The morning is the best time to go to really take in the still water and breathtaking views of the mountains and natural splendor.
What Makes Biscayne Bay So Awesome
Biscayne Bay is a top spot for Miami residents and visitors who don’t want to leave the city to get a great paddling session in. The water is very shallow, which means there will be little boat traffic and lots of wildlife.
Expect to see everything from manatees and sharks to rays and even otters.
What Makes Doran Beach So Awesome
Doran Beach is an excellent spot for more experienced folks, and paddlers considering checking out the Bodega Bay location should pay careful attention to weather.
“Paddlers need to be informed about wind, tide and surf conditions. All must be favorable and calm to have an enjoyable experience,” says Menth. “The ocean temperature demands a wetsuit for the beginner, but an experienced paddler who doesn’t intend to spend a lot of time in the water probably won’t need one in summer and early fall.”
What Makes Virginia Key So Awesome
Virginia Key is an island off the coast of Miami (accessed by a bridge that connects to Key Biscayne). Between the clear water, the abundance of wildlife and minimal boat traffic, this can be a great spot for an easy paddle.
The team from Blue Scholars Initiative also does beach clean up from the sea via paddleboards that the public can participate in.
What Makes Spring Lake Regional Park So Awesome
Another of Menth's paddling recommendations is Spring Lake Regional Park. Located in northeast Santa Rosa, this quaint lake offers gorgeous views and relatively still waterways.
The regional park is also quite small in size, which can be comforting if you’re a beginner who might be a bit nervous to head out on a larger body of water right away.
What Makes Ala Moana Beach Park So Awesome
Ala Moana Beach Park is believed by many paddleboarding enthusiasts to be one of the best places to paddle, not just in Hawaii or in the U.S. but in the world.
The crystal-clear water here is perfect for paddling, and the sunset views along the white-sand Hawaii beaches are unparalleled.
What Makes the Florida Keys So Awesome
“This might be obvious, but when I go, I only go during the week,” shares Miami resident Jane Watkins. “Weekend boat traffic is a deterrent in common or popular areas, and I prefer paddling inside (the western side versus the East Coast) because there are more grass-beds — so you see more and less boat traffic.”
What Makes Lake Tahoe So Awesome
You won’t believe the clear-blue waters of Lake Tahoe until you arrive. The expansive lake cuts into both the Nevada and California state lines and offers up some of the most visually stunning water views north of the Caribbean.
The location is ideal for both summer and winter paddleboarding — but don’t forget your wetsuit.
What Makes Summersville Lake So Awesome
Summersville Lake is set in the mountains of central West Virginia and boasts 60 miles of shoreline and striking views of the mountains and surrounding cliffs. The best part? The lake can easily be reached via interstate from most of the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.
“Boat traffic on weekends can churn up the water somewhat,” explains West Virginia resident Tim Conner. “To avoid this, there are many no-wake zones off of the main channel for a quieter paddleboard experience.”
What Makes Lake Oconee So Awesome
Lake Oconee is a 19,000 surface-acre lake with 374 miles of shoreline. It is an extremely beautiful lake surrounded with majestic forests of towering pine and oak trees.
Its shoreline ranges from sandy-white beaches to giant boulders, to campgrounds, to wooded areas, to natural rock slides, to impressive mansions and quaint historic homes — making it a very interesting spot for paddling.
What Makes Roaring Fork River So Awesome
Aspen is gorgeous at any rate — but seeing the snow-peaked mountain ranges and towering trees from the water is a whole different experience.
“You can do easy river paddling on the Stillwater section of the Roaring Fork River,” says Charlie Macarthur, owner of Aspen Kayak & SUP. “It’s appropriate for beginners and the more advanced as well.”
What Makes Lake Powell So Awesome
“Lake Powell is among the most incredible paddleboarding places in the world,” says Matt McKnight, founder of Humber Sport. “You will have the best view of awesome red rock canyons and natural landscapes. Lake Powell is bliss for photography, fishing, boating and, of course, paddleboarding. The lake has fantastic blue water, and it is surrounded by hundreds of colorful sandstone side canyons, lots of caves and inlets.”
What Makes Green River State Park So Awesome
Green River State Park is incredibly striking in its own right — but paddleboard enthusiasts flock here for the chance to partake in a bucket-list, four-day paddleboarding experience.
The adventure takes paddlers through 45 miles of Labyrinth Canyon, breaking only to sleep on the breathtaking sandstone cliffs.
Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Location: Jackson County, Mississippi
Where to stay: Hilton Jackson
What Makes Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve So Awesome
Interested in a paddleboarding adventure that combines adventure, fauna and flora? Head to the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Jackson County.
Here, you’ll paddle through the emergent marshlands of one of the most biologically productive estuarine ecosystems while catching a glimpse of rare and endangered plants and animals.
What Makes Twin Lakes Park So Awesome
According to Macarthur, Colorado residents also head to Twin Lakes Park on the other side of Independence Pass for paddleboarding due to its more tranquil and laid back waterways.
The nature park was named for the two glacial lakes that cover the valley floor — which also happens to make for a very relaxing and covered spot for paddling.
What Makes Pascagoula River So Awesome
Looking for an extended adventure without committing to a week-long extreme sport affair?
For a longer adventure that’s still comfortable, explore routes from the upper Pascagoula River — the longest free-flowing river in the nation — to the coast, or make your way to the pristine barrier islands for overnight camping under the stars.