Aside from being a fun, full body workout, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has many health benefits, like improving balance and endurance. SUP begun to gain popularity in the early 2000s among water enthusiasts, but It isn't just a sport for surfers.
With stand up paddleboarding, there really is something for everyone: nature lovers, fitness buffs, and even yogis. It's a relatively easy sport to learn. Here are a few locations across America with calm waters, perfect for beginners and advanced SUPers to paddle and drift to their heart’s delight.
1. Oahu, Hawaii
SUP was rumored to originate in Hawaii & California. And it’s no wonder - both states are surrounded by the ocean. Oahu boasts several spots with calm waters, as well big waves for adventure junkies.
Ala Moana Beach
Close to Waikiki, Ala Moana is a half mile-long stretch of beach, with a bay protected from the ocean by a reef. It’s fairly wide, and is home to calm waters perfect for SUP beginners. Another nearby spot, Magic Island, has calm, shallow waters perfect for a leisurely swim.
Translated as “Heavenly Sea” in Hawaiian, Lanikai was named one of the 10 best beaches in the USA according to TripAdvisor. It’s off the beaten path, slightly hidden. The best way to discover this gem is to SUP or kayak from Kailua Bay. Enjoy calm waters year-round, but plan ahead - there are no restrooms or lifeguards.
During the winter, Sunset Beach is a popular destination for big wave surfing. During the summer, the water is serene, making the 4-mile trek from Waimea Bay to Sunset Beach an enjoyable journey.
2. San Diego, California
San Diego ranks as one of the best places to SUP year-round. Travel buffs love the pleasant weather, picturesque Pacific Ocean, and nearby lakes and bays. As an added bonus, this city has an active SUP yoga community.
Spots to check out include Mission Bay and Santa Barbara Cove. Mission Bay, near the San Diego Airport, has been called one of the world’s biggest man-made water parks. Santa Barbara Cove is surrounded by land on three sides, providing some of the calmest waters around. Each weekend you can find people practicing yoga, fishing, or even whale spotting - all while standing on top of their paddleboards!
3. Lake Tahoe, California
Another favorite for SUPs is beautiful Lake Tahoe, likely due to its scenic views, clear water and wide shorelines. Patty Robbins, an avid SUPer, believes Lake Tahoe is the best place to learn paddleboarding, because of the warm temperature and calm morning waters. Paddleboarders can see 50-60 ft beneath the surface. We recommend that you venture out before 10am when the waters are most calm. If you can plan a trip after August, you’ll avoid the crowds and still enjoy the warm waters.
4. Key West, Florida
Given its locale, the waters in Key West are usually calm - perfect for paddleboarding. SUPers are treated to warm weather and clear blue waters, which showcase a coral reef system like none other.
SUP activities include eco tours that go through mangrove trees, and a night tour with LED lights that highlights the marine life below. If you don't want to join a tour, you can paddle off to the mangroves to do yoga. The waters are shallow enough to see tropical fish while atop your paddleboard.
5. San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Condado Lagoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico is a favorite among many SUPers - both beginners and experts. Many traveler reviews rave about the calm waters in the lagoon closed off from the rough surf of the seas. Be on the lookout for manatees, as many have been sighted nearby!
6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Another spot for warm, calm waters is found in Puerto Vallarta. Banderas Bay is an especially great location, sheltered from the wind. Here you’ll find sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales. At Las Islas Marietas, you can listen for endangered birds, and paddleboard above coral reefs. TCalmer waters can be found 30 miles north, at Punta Mita. Nearby Los Muertos Beach is a popular spot that tends to get crowded.
7. Jamaica Bay, NY
For a getaway within the big city, Jamaica Bay is your best bet. It’s composed of waterways, meadowlands, and freshwater ponds perfect for SUP. Take in the New York City skyline while you paddle board - it’s only a 90-minute subway ride from Times Square.
Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, there’s a place for you on the water. And, if you don’t have your own equipment yet, check out our paddles, boards, and accessories.