When the surf wasn’t ‘up’ the beach boys, on their longboards in the 1960s off Hawaii’s coast, began standing on their surfboards while using outrigger paddles to grab a view of any waves on the horizon. This was the beginning of stand up paddle boarding. Like all overnight sensations, it didn’t become popular until some 40 years later.
Coming west from Hawaii, the sport hits the coast of California gaining a steady popularity until the 2000s when the sport exploded. Now on just about any body of water, you see a stand-up paddle board or SUP.
San Diego California
La Jolla Cove is the place for the SUP enthusiasts to be in Southern California. This California cove is a designated Marine Sanctuary and is teaming with sea life, while on your board you may see bat rays, jellyfish, sea turtles or an occasional leopard shark.
Or visit the Tidelands Park off of the famous Coronado Island. There you can see the harbor lights of the city of San Diego and paddle board under the enormous Coronado Bay Bridge. Paddle over to Harbor Island and take in the Harbor side activity and grab a bite to eat at any of the many eateries.
Santa Cruz California
Since the waters off Northern California are cold all year round you will see most SUPers wearing wetsuits. The Santa Cruz Harbor and Steamer Lane are a popular area to take lessons because of the calmer waters, ideal for all level of riders. This is if you don’t mind sharing the waters with kayakers, surfers and sea lions.
Lake Tahoe California
Heading inland, and perfect for the beginner, you will find the clear deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe. The smooth, glassy, and tranquil waters off of the North Shore is a perfect spot for SUP. While on your board gaze down into the lake, with 70 feet of visibility it is a surreal place to do this quiet non-motorized water sport.
With over 70 miles of shoreline, stand up paddle boarding offers the perfect way to see all the beauty that this lake and the surrounding views it offers.
Lake Powell Arizona
Paddle boarding is truly a sport you can do wherever you live! When checking out the best locations for SUP, we find that heading farther east, and even if you live in the desert of Arizona, you can still find an excellent place to paddle board. Beautiful Lake Powell is one of the best SUP destinations according to the top vacation websites.
The second largest man-made lake in the United States, Lake Powell has long been the best destinations in the southwest to visit for kayaking, tubing, house boating and now the best for SUP.
Key West Florida
Grab a “downwinder” and ride the trade winds off the Keys. SUP riders can cover long distances around this area without paddling. Or tour mangrove forests while watching manatees and stingrays breach the surface and play in their habitat. When the wind dies down the popularity of fishing off of your paddle board is an experience you will not want to miss.
However, SUP’s popularity is growing all over the world, check out these recommended SUP sites.
Bay Of Islands New Zealand
Just off the northern tip of the North Island is the Bay Of Islands, and a hot spot for paddle boarders. This beautiful area offers bays, inlets, and sheltered coves. The year round warm water provides a chance to SUP near pods of dolphins and other playful sea life. Check out Kerikeri, another excellent choice for SUP with beautiful bays, lessons and gear to rent or buy, all while learning to love and master the art of paddle boarding in this gorgeous part of New Zealand.
The Bahamas has long been a premium destination spot for its beaches and turquoise waters, now if you SUP you can experience the Bahamas in a very different way. With 120 miles of beaches and over 700 islands, there is no shortage of beautiful reefs or sea life to observe in these tropical waters, while you skim the surface undetected by the marine world below. Nassau and Great Exuma are yet two other places not to miss while in the Bahamas.
Popularity for stand-up paddle boarding is not limited to beach resort cities or tropical islands. A prime example and as strange as it sounds, Amsterdam is one very popular place for SUP enthusiasts. Home to over 150 canals and waterways, it is the perfect way to see the city and all its beauty from a different perspective.
Paddle boarding next to Anne Frank’s house or taking in the architecture of the old gables and cobblestone streets will give you an appreciation for a much different view of this historical city. It will also open your mind up to other possibilities and other cities to see in this new way.
Stand-up Paddle boarding is a sport that is becoming very popular everywhere in the world and for so many reasons. You will get an aerobic workout, build your inner core strength, legs and arms also get toned and defined. All this great exercise but it won’t feel like your exercising while taking in culture, scenery and viewing the world with a different perspective. We can see why this sport is gaining popularity worldwide.