On a gorgeous day, there’s nothing much better than having some fun on the water. Kayaks and surfboards are classic choices, but far from your only options. Stand-up paddleboards (or SUP) have been making waves in the recreational scene for the past decade.
Today, you can find a paddle board rental shop near just about every major body of water. It couldn’t be easier for first-timers to try out this surf/kayak hybrid option. Best of all, you really don’t need any kayaking or surfing experience to have a great time.
But you probably still have a few questions about pricing and what to expect. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to paddle board rentals, including FAQs. Let’s dive in!
How Paddle Board Rental Works
Keep in mind that every rental shop has their own policies and regulations. That said, we’ve rented paddleboards quite a few times across the US. Here’s how it works at the vast majority of locations:
You’ll pay for everything up front. If you’re renting for 2 hours, you pay for 2 hours before getting any of your gear. Most places these days accept credit cards, but there are a few cash-only spots out there too.
A lot of shops have other things you can rent, too. Typically, the hourly fees include your life jacket, SUP, and paddle. But if you want to rent a dry box to keep your phone dry, for example, you’ll pay for that upfront too.
Everyone in your group will fill out and sign a waiver. You’re saying you agree to follow their rules, pay for any damages you cause, and that you don’t hold them liable for any injuries suffered during your rental. If anyone in your group is under 18, their parent or guardian will sign on their behalf.
Then, you need to get ready to go out on the water. Once you square away the paperwork and payment, it’s time to suit up. All this really means is putting on your personal flotation device (PFD) and tightening it to fit you properly. The staff at the dock can give you instructions on how to paddle, safety tips, and answer any questions you might have.
They usually help you get safely onto your SUP, and then you’re ready to go. You should also receive directions on which areas you’re allowed to be in. Depending on the body of water, you might be able to paddle anywhere or may need to steer clear of areas with motorized vessels.
It’s usually up to you to keep track of time. You can wear a waterproof watch, keep your phone in a dry box, or have a friend on shore to keep track of everything. We’ve found most shops to be a bit lenient on the timing. If you’re back 5 minutes late, you usually aren’t charged for another hour.
Don't Want to Fuss with a Rental?
Rentals are great for trying paddle boarding out for the first time, but if you’re relying on rentals and you already enjoy being out on the water, the costs add up quickly. Plus, wouldn’t you like to paddle without the added stress of time constraints and extra fees?
Many inflatable paddle boards can fit in a suitcase and are light enough to go on a carry-on. Check out our reviews to find your own paddle board and skip the rental lines.
Based on our research and personal SUP experiences, the average US rental rate is $25 per hour. You may also see options such as 2 hours for $40, $80 for all-day rental, and prices for 2-person paddle boards.
Because these businesses are seasonal, many offer daily rental specials too. You might find a great deal for a mid-week rental or an early bird reservation, for example.
If you’re considering an SUP rental on your next trip, we suggest scoping out the pricing ahead of time. Doing so could help your vacation budget stretch farther.
Frequently Asked Questions About Paddle Board Rental
Now you have a general idea of what to expect during your paddle board rental. Getting onto the water is the most fun when you don’t have to stress about the details!
But if you’re anything like us, you still need a bit more info. Below, you’ll find answers to the most popular paddle boarding questions.
What Clothing Should I Wear?
When paddle boarding, you should wear whatever you’ll be most comfortable in. Look at the weather forecast to help you decide. It’s also smart to wear something that can get wet just in case you fall in.
Any kind of swimwear or board shorts is always a smart choice. You can opt to paddle board barefoot or wear water shoes, whichever you prefer. As for sunglasses and hats, that’s totally up to you—just remember to buy a leash or lanyard so you don’t lose them in the water. Finally, never forget the sunscreen!
Do I Need a Reservation?
You might need a reservation for your paddle board rental—every shop has their own policy. We’ve been to places that require a reservation ahead of time, no matter how busy they are (or aren’t)! But we’ve also rented from shops that allow you to walk-in, even during peak season.
Luckily, most rental places have this info posted in the FAQ section of their website. Always double-check the website or call the shop you’ll be renting from before you show up. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a day in the sun, just to find out you needed to make reservations the night before.
What are the Age Requirements?
Most paddle board rental shops require anyone under 18 to bring an adult with them. This is usually a matter of safety and following their insurance policy.
Setting aside legalities, people of most ages can paddle board on their own. It’s a little tough to say the minimum age for paddle boarding solo because kids can be totally different heights at the same age.
It’s also common for young children to ride on the same paddle board as their parent. Contact the rental shop you’re considering for more specific information.
Can I Bring My Dog?
Depending on the policy of where you’re renting from, you might be able to bring your dog. The best SUP for dogs is one that’s wide and long. Every rental shop has different gear, so they may or may not have the right board to include your furry friend.
There are a lot of other key details to consider. Make sure your dog is comfortable with being out on the water and following your commands. You’ll also need a personal flotation device (PFD) for Fido. We’ve visited rental shops that keep these in stock, but you may need to bring your own.
This is one of the most case-by-case questions about paddle board rental. Be sure to contact the shop ahead of time to make sure they’ve got the right gear for your pooch.
Do I Need to Have Kayaking or Paddle Board Experience to Rent?
Nope, you don’t need any prior kayaking or paddle board experience to rent. Millions of people have their first SUP experience on a rental paddle board every year. Even better, it’s suitable for people of all ages and physiques. (1)
As long as you can kneel or stand while paddling, you’re good to go. Just keep in mind that windy days can make paddling a bit more of a workout. Most rental shops will give you directions and answer any questions you might have.
But if you really want to wrap your head around SUP before you try it, there’s lots of instructional videos online.
What Should I Do if I Need Assistance on the Water?
If you need help on the water, rental shops usually advise you to:
- Paddle to the shore, then get both you and your board out of the water. This solution works best when you’re physically fine and close to a shallow area.
- Ask for help. Depending on where you’re paddling, you’ll have other people or an instructor nearby. Don’t be afraid to call out for help if you need it.
- In the worst-case scenarios, call the Coast Guard or the proper authorities for your location. We suggest always looking up this info prior to your trip and saving it in your phone so you’re prepared. (2)
Finally, this is a great question to ask the rental shop before you get on the water. Some shops offer whistles or teach you a signal to communicate when you need help.
First Time on a SUP?
Most people’s first SUP experience is actually with a rental. You’ll need to purchase your own gear if you want to visit more remote paddle boarding places, but many popular bodies of water now have at least one paddle board rental shop nearby.
Even better, it’s common to find these shops right on the water with all the necessary gear. You pay, put on your PFD, and hit the water without having to carry a paddle board for 6 blocks.
Basically, SUP is one of the easiest activities for first timers to try out. It’s great exercise and lots of fun whether you’re paddling solo or in a big group. Use the tips you learned today to find a great paddle board rental and get out on the water!