Best paddleboard destinations in the U.S.
I am an avid fan of paddle boarding and have been to many places around the country, so I thought I would share a list of my favorite road trip paddleboard destinations from around the United States. From the ever-sunny beaches of San Diego, to the salt grove marshes of South Carolina. No matter your level or experience, you’re sure to find the perfect SUP destination for your next road trip to one of these incredible locations.
In 2017, paddle boarding became one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the world. It is projected to rise about 15% per year through 2020. With the rise in popularity, more and more fantastic SUP locations are popping up.
It’s a great time to be a SUP enthusiast. Before you head out, make sure you have a good, portable, lightweight paddleboard: I personally love my inflatable SUP for road trips. Once geared up, travel to one of these destinations…you’ll find endless adventures to be had!
Summer in South Carolina is incredible. Salt marsh groves, freshwater creeks, wildlife and pristine white strips of beach can all be found in Myrtle Beach. For an adventure through the shade of Cyprus trees and all forms of fascinating river life, take your SUP through Waccamaw River National Wildlife Refuge. Or wander down the coast and drive into Myrtle Beach’s SUP-friendly surf for a paddle experience you’ll never forget.
One of the most popular paddleboard destinations is San Diego, it is a wide and wonderful playground for paddle boarders. Consistent sunshine and SUP surf, this is a paddle boarding dream. From Mission Bay to La Jolla Cove Marine sanctuary, there are some absolute gems to explore. Rich sea life can be found during each stroke. Keep an eye out for bat rays, sea turtles, seals and leopard sharks as you paddle your way through one of America’s finest surf locations.
The SUP lifestyle is spreading quickly throughout Seattle —with its intricate layout of lake and bay areas, it’s no surprise. Take a tour of Shilshole Bay for a solid two hours of paddling and scenery; or work your way down to Tacoma and start your journey at the mouth of Foss Waterway. Alki Beach is also a very popular area for SUP. The possibilities are endless in Seattle, all you need is a quality, portable SUP:
Not only for its picturesque views and pristine summertime weather, Lake Tahoe is one of the best all-round prime paddleboard destinations. 191 square miles of lake surface to explore, this is a trip that you can make a hundred times without covering the same waters. A strong paddle board community exists in the region, so you can be sure to find some fellow paddlers out there on the water. This also means that some of the best paddle advice can be found in Tahoe, so don’t be afraid to speak with the locals!
Home to Santa Cruz Paddlefest, Santa Cruz is my next recommendation. Known for its incredible surf and beautiful coastlines, Santa Cruz offers some of the most challenging paddle boarding of any of the locations listed. For serious paddle boarders, Santa Cruz can give you the individual thrill you’ve been searching for, along with racing and competitive opportunities to match. That being said, if you travel up and down the coast long enough, you’ll begin to see that there are plenty of calmer spots for beginners to enjoy as well.
Lake Powell, Arizona
When you think of Arizona, you might think of desert, cacti and the Grand Canyon. Well, add Lake Powell to that list as one of the best paddleboard destinations in the world. Lake Powell offers an experience like none other. With crystal clear waters surrounded by intricate red rock cliff faces and canyons, it makes for a magical scene. Over 94 major canyon sections for paddling, along with vast expanses of tranquil lake waters, Lake Powell is a stunning stop on any paddle boarding road trip.
A state filled with richly diverse landscape, mountains, rivers and hundreds of lakes: the perfect place to go paddle boarding. And since there are so many fantastic options within Colorado to choose from, I’m suggesting that the entire state is a hot paddle board destination in and of itself! With the stunning views of deep mountain destinations like Lake Dillon and Grand Lake, in addition to the more accessible Cherry Creek Reservoir and Union Reservoir, there is an incredible range and variety of paddle boarding to be done in this wonderfully wild state.
The final stop on the list take us back to our paddle boarding roots; where paddle boarding first began almost 100 years ago (Wikipedia page ‘Paddleboarding: History’, 2012). While it may not be exactly road-trip-friendly, Oahu simply cannot escape any ‘top paddleboard destinations’ list. It’s a paddle boarder’s paradise, with clear-blue waters, jaw-dropping mountain scenery and silky white-sand beaches. Whether its Pua’ena Point Beach Park, “Pops” in Waikiki or Ala Moana Bay, Oahu is a must for any SUP enthusiast with a passion for paddle boarding and an eye for beautiful beaches. Experience a culture rich with surf and paddle board history, and enjoy the world’s best SUP island: Oahu.
If you can think of some other paddleboard destinations that should have made the list, please leave a comment below.