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Deeply rooted in Polynesian culture, stand-up paddle boarding has been around for centuries, but over the last decade or so, SUP has exploded in popularity. Relatively easy, requiring very little equipment, with a multitude of launch opportunities, it’s become a go-to activity for folks of all ages and athletic abilities.
The US has great spots for paddle boarding. From the rapids in Oregon to the calm waters of New Hampshire; from the sunny Florida Keys to the Delaware Bay, if there’s a body of water, there’s an opportunity for a SUP adventure. So, whether you just want to have some fun in a local lake or you’re looking for some serious water adventure, grab a board and enjoy the ride!
While you could paddle your way across the nation and never hit the same spot twice, we’ve compiled a list of the best SUP spots in the U.S.A. to get you started.
And we’d love to hear about your favorite places to paddle!
Hood River is one of the most popular summertime destinations for SUP pros and weekend enthusiasts. Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, stand-up paddleboarding is following closely in its wake. With spectacular views of the snow-capped Mount Hood, Hood River is a great place to explore the wilderness as you paddle through the rapids.
Surrounded by calm, pleasant waters from the Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island, the ultimate Lonestar spring break destination, is the perfect location for stand-up paddleboarding.
Since large portions of the island are protected from bigger swells by jetties and the naturally calm waters of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico, SUP boarders can launch from just about anywhere on the island, but for those just getting started, the bay is recommended.
For the true adventurous at heart, ditch your swimsuits, grab your cold weather gear, and head to Alaska for an out-of-the-ordinary adventure.
Paddling in the shadows of glaciers and icebergs, with humpback whales and harbor seals in abundance, though Anchorage is not really a spot for first-time paddleboarders, it’s definitely a bucket-list must.
Just 45 minutes from the Las Vegas strip, this SUP paradise may be the best-kept secret in Nevada. The 12-mile-long Black Canyon Water Trail along the Colorado River is filled with hot springs, narrow canyons, and serene desert landscapes with unmatched views.
Black Canyon got its name because the surrounding cliffs and rock formations shadow parts of the gorge such that it only experiences 33 minutes of sunlight a day.
Known as one of the west’s most incredible kayaking spots, SUP your way through the narrow crevices and steep cliffs for a picturesque adventure like no other.
The whole state of Colorado is packed with awesome SUP spots, with the best conditions running from May to July during whitewater season, following the snowmelt.
Some of the most popular areas for downriver paddling and river surfing include Durango’s Animas River, Salida’s Gore Greek, Vail’s Arkansas River, and the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs.
And with hundreds of lakes scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain state, Colorado is a paddle board paradise.
With amazing desert scenery, Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Park is a sprawling 1.25 million-acre water and backcountry playground. For millions of years, wind, erosion, and volcanic lava have carved formations into the rocks to create this desert SUP wonderland.
One of the world’s top SUP destinations, it’s also one of the most remote. Almost 400 miles from Phoenix, 130 miles from Flagstaff, and 270 miles from Las Vegas, a good starting place to hang your hat is Page, Arizona.
SUP got its start in the south Pacific, so Hawaii is a must for paddleboarders everywhere. Sunset Beach, found on the north shore of Oahu, is popular for big wave surfing in winter. But with waves becoming friendlier in the summer months, Oahu is the ultimate summertime paddleboarding destination.
The best SUP spots in Oahu include Waimea Bay, for more experienced boarders, and Lanikai Beach, Puaena Point, and Haleiwa in the summer months.
Paddle through the Mangroves in the Florida Keys for a SUP adventure unlike anywhere else. Underwater mangroves serve as nurseries for all kinds of fish and other marine life like shrimp, crab, and snappers, while the mangrove branches serve as nesting grounds for diverse species of birds.
Paddle your way through mangrove tunnels where cool and quiet natural canopies create a sanctuary for wildlife like barracudas, rays, octopuses, and manatees.
A great spot to kick back and relax, on the North West side of Maui, is Kapalua Bay, a white sand beach protected by two reefs forming a c-shaped cove.
Paddle your way around the shallow reefs along the water’s edge where a diverse underwater world of marine life can be seen from the surface. Bring your snorkel gear to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful fish and vibrant corals on earth.
With year-round perfect weather, San Diego is a must-add to your SUP bucket list destinations. La Jolla Cove, a local marine sanctuary, is a great spot to explore marine life like rays, leopard sharks, jellyfish, and sea turtles.
Other popular SUP spots include the great shore breaks of Coronado Island, SUP Yoga on Mission Bay, dog-friendly Del Mar, and the flat waters of Tidelands Park.
Stand up paddle board
Personal flotation device
Headlamp or flashlight
Board shorts or swimsuit
Water shoes or neoprene booties
A camera phone with a waterproof case
Compass (that floats)
SUP carry strap
SUP transport cart
Sunglasses and leash
Dry Bag filled with essentials: snacks, credit cards, and cash.
Small first-aid kit
Camera with waterproof case