You don’t need a lift ticket, killer set of waves or a season pass to enjoy the growing sport of Stand Up paddle boarding. All you need is a SUP and a sense of adventure and maybe a swimsuit – there are legit places to rent a board and take a tour at all of the hottest places to paddle. It’s easy to tie in an afternoon of paddle boarding to see a city, shoreline or mountains from a different perspective.
PADDLE BOARD DESTINATIONS
Voted as the top SUP Getaway for 2014 by Outside Magazine, Bend has claimed it’s fame as a mecca for paddle boarding. A 30 mile radius of the city offers flat waters, luxury accommodations in the mountains, 15 craft breweries, and an open air food truck court and beer garden. A perfect day of paddling in the mountains wouldn’t be complete without a local snack and cold one! You’ll find smooth waters on Cascade Lake and a killer view of the icy 9,065-foot Mount Bachelor Cascade Lakes in Deschutes National Forest. And of course, lessons, rentals and tours are abundant in this perfect summer mountain town.
San Diego, California
San Diego has some of the best water to paddle in California. There are three main flat-water spots: San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, and Carlsbad Lagoon — and then, obviously, you have the open Pacific Ocean. San Diego Bay is my favorite for flat water. You can paddle around Coronado and have great views of downtown San Diego. LaJolla Cove is a great place to paddle out in the ocean. The shoreline is beautiful, and there is a lot to see in the water
Lake Tahoe, California
Surrounded by mountains, Lake Tahoe is pristine, incredibly clear and an unreal place to visit. The only drawback is that the water is cold. Thank goodness for the hot springs on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. Paddle just 30 minutes east along ponderosa forest to the granite-rimmed Crystal Bay. On the return trip, stop to warm up by the 120-degree Brockway Hot Springs, a three-pool cascade that warms the lake’s frigid waters. Yep…it’s pretty sick! Key West, Florida The relaxed pace of stand up paddleboarding fits well with the laid-back attitude of this island paradise. Tour the mangrove forests and all the natural beauty of Key West with an SUP tour. From stingrays to manatees, marine life is abundant in this diverse and protected ecosystem.
Why not head straight to the source? Hawaii is where stand up paddling claimed history. Locals and travelers alike hit the ocean to glide amidst the various island’s beautiful shoreline. The Mecca of stand up paddle boarding in Hawaii is found on the North Shore of Oahu. Ali’I Beach is one of the most popular paddling spots, which feature calm, crystal blue waters. The protected bay region is located on the south end of the beach and is great for novice SUP and swimmers.
Think lattes in the morning, paddle boarding by day, and fresh salmon by night. Seattle perfectly blends city and outdoor life. The city sits amidst pools of water and features several SUP destinations. In fact, exploring Seattle on water is one of the hottest trends in exploring the city. Lake Union, Shishole Bay, Green Lake, Lake Washington and Elliot Bay are a few of the paddling hot spots. Before heading out on the Puget Sound, however, be sure you are comfortable with your skills – especially on strong current days.
There’s a ton to explore once the lifts have closed in BC. Whistler has rapidly become a water sport destination where paddlers explore the cool pools of Alat Lake and Alpha Lake. The Canadian Rockies boast breathtaking water views unlike any other place in the world.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
With 86 degree water, sunshine and the wind-sheltered Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta is a killer spot for novice and seasoned paddle boarders alike. Feeling ambitious? Take a covered boat six miles offshore to Las Islas Marietas, a protected wildlife sanctuary, and spend an afternoon floating by the arid coastline, paddling above coral reefs, and scoping endangered sea birds perched on rock pinnacles.
Wisconsin’s state capital is surrounded by flat-wate, clean lakes, making perfect conditions for paddlers. Madison is the host of the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival half every year in July. You’re sure to find an abundant selection of boards for sale and rentals. While Lake Monona is the biggest and most popular, there’s also Waubesa and Kegonsa which are equally awesome for paddle boarding.
Head down to the Caribbean, St. Lucia in particular, and you’ll find the island’s twin pitons, rolling rain forests, and turquoise waters. St. Lucia offers the perfect combination of calm waters, luscious scenery, and secluded bays for paddle board adventures.
PC- Northstar Surf
With 10,000 lakes to choose from, every outing on your paddle board will be different from the last. The urban paddling in and around Minneapolis is probably some of the most unique in the country. The chain of lakes including Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Lake Harriet, each has a different view of the Minneapolis sky line. With abundant trees, green space and gorgeous houses, it’s hard to believe you’re within city limits. Even better, you can hit each of the connecting four lakes on your morning paddle. Heck, why not grab lunch lakeside at the Tin Fish or Bread and Pickle. Head north a few hours to paddle the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. Novice paddles should take caution as the water up there can be quite ocean-like! Calm, clean, wind protected lakes of all sizes are scattered across the entire state of Minnesota.