BY OCTAVIA DRUGHI
Are you looking for some eye candy the next time you paddle your board? Do stunning backdrops, snow-capped mountains, mangrove forests, alpine lakes, lagoons, emerald-green rivers and tropical beaches tickle your fancy? Then you’re in luck, because the world’s stand-up paddle boarding hotspots have them all!
SUP is the new rage and the fastest-growing watersport in the world. One reason for this is that learning to ride a paddle board is a breeze – almost anyone can do it 30 minutes after stepping on it. Another reason is that it allows for a lot of freedom. You are not restricted to the ocean and waves; the only limit is your imagination. You can stand-up paddle board on the nearest lake or river, even in your city if there’s a winding waterway passing through it. SUP offers the chance to become one with nature in incredibly picturesque locations, all the while ‘walking on water.’
10. New Zealand
SUP Lake Wanaka, New Zealand - Photo by Camilla Rutherford
One of the most enchanting places in the world, culturally rich and boasting abundant wildlife and ecosystems, New Zealand is a bucket list destination. Its many lakes, rivers, beaches and bays surrounded by rocky mountains have landed it a place on our list.
Bay of Islands, New Zeland - Photo credit nztravelorganiser.com
Northland’s Bay of Islands, with a subtropical climate and warm water all year round, is one of the best places for SUP in New Zealand. Not to mention that a pod or two of dolphins might tag along for the ride. Auckland and Raglan are well-known SUP hotspots, the latter being regarded as the quintessential New Zealand surf town. If you’re looking for a true sense of adventure, head to Lake Wanaka, New Zealand’s fourth largest lake.
9. Oahu, Hawaii
You can never go wrong with the birthplace of stand-up paddle boarding – Hawaii. Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu is famous for its big wave surfing during winter. During summer, the waves are smaller and friendlier, just perfect for paddle boarding. Those seeking a bigger challenge can paddle from Sunset Beach all the way to Waimea Bay, a 4-mile (6.5 km) trip.
SUP Lanikai Beach, Oahu - Photo credit kailuasailboards.com
Sunny and warm Oahu has plenty of other SUP spots worth hitting, like Puaena Point, Haleiwa and Lanikai Beach, which are favorites among stand-up paddling beginners. Water temperature in Oahu is usually a pleasant 80 °F (27 °C).
8. Florida Keys
SUP Florida - Photo by Bill Dickinson
With almost the entire state surrounded by water, it is no wonder that the SUP community in Florida is flourishing. The coral cay archipelago of Florida Keys off the southern coast of the state offers literally hundreds of spots to launch your paddleboard. With a rich marine life that includes stingrays and manatees, mangrove forests, a diverse ecosystem and Caribbean-like waters, Florida Keys is an island paradise that’s best explored on a kayak or SUP.
SUP Florida Keys
Paddleboarders can take advantage of the trade winds to cover long distances. When there’s no wind, the paddleboard can be used for fishing, SUP yoga, meditation or simply gliding in a slow, laid-back pace. Back on land, Florida’s Fort Lauderdale is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East.’ Its winding canals that empty in the Atlantic make it one of the most scenic SUP destinations in the USA.
SUP Los Arcos in Perto Vallarta, Mexico - Photo credit SurfMexico.com
With over 9,000 miles (14,500 km) of coastline, azure waters and sandy beaches, Mexico is one of the best surfing destinations on the planet. Quality surf awaits on both the Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico, and there’s always a cool wave to catch throughout the year.
Puerto Vallarta is a culturally rich city that offers excellent SUP opportunities for all levels. Here, Banderas Bay, with its warm and calm water, is a Pacific haven. Los Muertos Beach is the most popular and active when it comes to water sports, and you can expect to see sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales while paddling here.
Sayulita, Mexico - Photo credit lainitaylor.com
The small tropical town of Sayulita is considered the SUP capital of Mexico. Beginner and pros alike are guaranteed to have a good time, as a growing SUP community will welcome them. Cancun and Punta Mita are excellent locations too, great for the whole family.
SUP Slovenia - Photo credit sup-slovenia-discovery.com
A small country counting only two million inhabitants between the mighty Alps and the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is one of the most water-rich countries in Europe. This can only mean one thing – a SUP paradise. Stand-up paddling is relatively new to Slovenia, but it has seen a rapid growth these past years thanks to the country’s pristine nature and numerous flat-water alpine lakes and gently-flowing rivers.
SUP Savica River, Slovenia - Photo credit supboardermag.com
In Slovenia, stand-up paddle boarding is as diverse as the country itself. There’s even urban SUP here. After all, what better way to explore the picturesque Old Town of the capital city of Ljubljana than by paddling your way through it? The unbelievably picturesque Lake Bled is on top of everyone’s list, an alpine lake that is home to Slovenia’s only island. So are paddling down the emerald-green Soča River and Savica River and on Lake Cerknica.
5. British Columbia, Canada
SUP Emerald Lake in the Canadian Rockies - Photo credit rockiesfamilyadventures.com
It may not be the first destination that springs to mind when thinking about SUP, but British Columbia (B.C.) is a hidden gem with plenty of surprises in store. After all, it is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and a popular destination for kayakers and canoe trippers. Why should stand-up paddle boarding fall behind?
SUP Whistler, B.C. - Photo credit gibbonswhistler.com
With lakes, rivers, a maze of waterways along the rugged central coast, no wonder B.C. has a thriving SUP community. There are so many amazing spots to paddle it would be tough to list them all. So we’ll just mention what we believe are the best – the coastal waters of Tofino, Kalamalka Lake in Vernon, Muncho Lake, Emerald Lake, Whistler and the west side of Vancouver are the places to start for a scenic SUP adventure.
4. The Turks and Caicos Islands
SUP Turks and Caicos Islands - Photo credit tropicalwavestci.com
An archipelago of 40 coral islands surrounded by turquoise waters, the Turks and Caicos Islands are an SUP haven. Explore the mangrove swamps and reefs abounding in sea turtles and schools of colorful fish, all the while watching herons and nurse sharks swimming underneath your board.
SUP Turks and Caicos Islands - Photo credit bigblueunlimited.com
Turks and Caicos Islands have an average water temperature of 80 °F (27 °C) and see the most tourists between December and March. There’s no better way to explore the pristine wetlands and hidden turquoise waterways of the islands than on a SUP. The calm waters and white sand beaches make Grace Bay a paddle boarding paradise. Chalk Sound National Park and its landlocked lagoon is another picturesque spot to paddle.
SUP Ericeira, Portugal - Photo credit surfholidays.com
Often referred to as the stand-up paddle boarding capital of Europe, Portugal does indeed offer a wide variety of waters. With 1,115 miles (1,794 km) of coastline, there’s a huge potential for surfing, SUP and other watersports. Even better, there are plenty of top-notch SUP spots within striking distance from the country’s capital. One of them is the popular seaside resort of Ericeira.
Almourol Castle, Rio Tejo, Portugal
Paddle the majestic Rio Tejo, which empties into the Atlantic at Lisbon – there aren’t many places in the world where you can SUP round an 800-year-old Knights Templar Castle. South of Lisbon, Luiz Saldanha Marine Park offers a unique experience – it is like paddling in an aquarium with more than 1,000 species, with an astounding visibility of up to 70 feet (21 m). The turquoise waters here have quite a few bottlenose dolphins as permanent residents. For a change of scenery, take a SUP ride inside the Benagil Cave in the Algarve.
2. Costa Rica
SUP Nosara, Costa Rica - Photo credit experience-nosara.com
There’s no doubt that Costa Rica is a surfing mecca that’s on everyone’s bucket list. But I’m here to tell you that stand-up paddle boarding is gaining serious ground on the tropical country’s coasts too. Tourists who do not fancy the idea of spending days in a row learning to catch a wave now have the perfect alternative – SUP.
SUP Playa Danta, Costa Rica - Photo credit lascatalinascr.com
Playa Danta in the Guanacaste region is a secluded, off-the-beaten-path flat-water bay abounding in exotic sea life. It is also one of the country’s premier SUP spots. There’s more to Playa Danta than surfing. For adventure lovers, there are zip lines and ATV rides through the surrounding jungles. And please make sure you bring your snorkeling gear along. With water temperatures ranging around 86 F (30 C) all year, Costa Rica truly is a paradise found.
1. Lake Tahoe, California
SUP Lake Tahoe - Photo credit californiahome.me
North America’s largest alpine lake is perhaps the most photographed SUP location in the world. And with good reason – its mesmerizing blue water, 72 miles (115 km) of shoreline covered in coniferous trees and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background make it a dream destination for a variety of recreational activities. What better way to enjoy this natural beauty than on a laid-back paddle boarding session?
SUP Lake Tahoe - Photo credit standuppaddletahoe.com
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe offer an astounding visibility of up to 70 feet (21 m) down on a good morning. Conditions are great from late spring until early fall, and the best time of day to paddle is in the morning or early evening. That’s when the surface is calmer and the winds are gentle, ensuring an intimate experience. These conditions are also ideal if you’re a beginner. Lake Tahoe is the venue of the annual Tahoe SUP & Paddleboard Race Series, an annual event worth attending if not even participating in.
Would you like to take your stand-up paddleboard around the world? Now you know where to start! So head to BookSurfCamps.com and choose your next SUP holiday.
Octavia writes for BookSurfCamps.com, the largest surf travel website with 2056 unique listings in 244 destinations around the world.
Discover Surf Camps now