You probably have a few hometown paddle boarding spots that you’re used to. These are places you know and are familiar with. But what about the unexplored waters?
Many paddle boarders have a sense of adventure for the outdoors and want to see the world from a new perspective. There’s no better place to do that than out on the water.
A Search for New Waters
Looking for ‘paddle boarding near me’ doesn’t always provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Sometimes, you’re looking for brand new waters that you haven’t explored before. That’s where the real adventure comes in.
In most cases, you haven’t exhausted your options in the local area, so you’ll be surprised how many paddle boarding lakes, rivers, and beachfronts are near you right now; but sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Paddling while on vacation is the icing on the cake for the avid paddler, but it can be a little nerve wracking to paddle new waters without knowing what you’re getting into, especially if it’s your first time planning for a new paddle destination.
The number one thing you should keep in mind is safety. No matter what, it’s better to forego paddle boarding on a vacation or rainy day if you don’t feel comfortable on a new body of water.
Traveling to a Paddle Destination
Traveling to a paddle destination doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re going by vehicle, you can pack everything right into the trunk of your car. If you’re going by plane, you can usually check your board in with your regular luggage without any fuss. Both options are widely accessible thanks to the industry moving into more inflatable paddle boards in the last few years. (1)
“Inflatable SUPs can easily be stored in a closet or kept in the trunk of your car. They’re also ideal for air travel, so go ahead and stuff it in the overhead bin if you can or make it checked luggage.”
Hard boards are a little bit difficult, and for the most part, they would be subject to the same travel restrictions that a surfboard would because of the size and shape of the board. You can attach it to a rack on the top of your vehicle, but air travel becomes significantly more expensive and restrictive with a hard board.
If you’re in the market for a quality inflatable board that will last while also making travel easier, check out our paddle board reviews to see the top brands and boards available today.
Where Can I Go Paddle Boarding Near Me?
Looking for more guides about where you can paddle board nearby, or paddle board destinations for your next vacation? We’re always talking about new paddle destinations, some of which may be near you!
You should check out our places to paddle board page to learn more about this type of content. There’s a community-reported map available on this page, so you can find new spots wherever you are.
We’re always on the lookout for new locations, so if you found a brand-new spot and want us to check it out, it could appear in the next vacation post. Leave a comment and let us know where we should visit in the U.S. next!
Should You Travel for a Paddle Destination, or Stay Local?
There’s nothing wrong with paddle boarding on vacation, nor is there anything bad about paddling local spots. It’s really a matter of preference whether you travel for a paddle destination or stay local. If you
Depending on where you live, you can expect some spectacular views when you stay local. Local paddle boarding allows you to take your board out on a lake or river as a casual affair, making it more accessible as a leisure activity.
Destination paddle boarding, however, is a great way to explore the outdoors while you’re in a new area. Inflatable paddle boards are best for this because you can fold them up tightly into your vehicle or into your luggage, and they are relatively light at 15-25 lbs per board. When you are looking for a paddle boarding destination on vacation, however, you should be sure to check with local regulations and only paddle board on a body of water if it is posted as a safe or allowed activity.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Location and Planning Your Trip
First, let’s talk logistics. Can you take the board with you easily? If it will pack down with your luggage without putting you over any weight limits, you’re golden. Don’t forget the air pump, paddle, leash, fins, sunscreen, and your personal flotation device or life jacket.
Second, think about the type of paddle boarding you want to do. If you’re looking to get some beach waves in, then it might not make sense to bring your paddle board to Colorado. Instead, you may want to prepare for lake paddle boarding, or bring the board on your next trip to Hawaii instead.
Third, make sure you know the rules for outdoor recreation wherever you are going. Do your research ahead of time on what lakes are OK to paddle board, and any safety regulations that are in place for paddlers in that region.
Top Paddle Boarding Locations
There are a lot of locations you can go paddle boarding in the U.S. With a diverse range of beaches, mountain ranges, lowland lakes, and sprawling rivers, it’s a great country to explore whether you’re doing it on a paddle board or on foot. A lot of outdoor enthusiasts turn to paddle boarding to get a new perspective on their usual travels while still challenging themselves to a new activity.
Depending on what you’re looking to see, and what type of paddle boarding you want to do, this watersport can take you anywhere and still give you a range of options to explore:
Where Can You Paddle Board in Washington?
Washington State is among one of the top paddle boarding destinations across the U.S. because of how diverse and accessible its lakes, rivers, and ocean access is. Not only are there several paddle board rental companies in Washington in case you forget your board or can’t bring it with you, but it’s also boarder-friendly on most bodies of water. Check out these top destinations in Washington State:
- Deception Pass State Park
- Dry Falls State Park
- Lyons Ferry State Park
- Lake Sammamish State Park
- Stuart Island
- Orcas Island
- Wenatchee River
- Yakima River Canyon
Washington offers the best of it all for everyone, with a mix of big-city charm with good eats and a great nightlife, but also a vast array of outdoors destinations no matter what you feel like tackling that day. All within a short drive, you have mountains, islands, rivers, state parks, and even the famous and scenic Olympic National Park.
Where Can You Paddle Board in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is a unique state easily divided into two sections: East and West. Western Massachusetts dips into the Appalachian region which means you’ll have a significant range of mountains and out-of-the-way destinations to truly get lost and enjoy nature. There are plenty of areas to paddle and hike in western Mass.
If you go further east, you’ll find yourself in a much more populous metroplex of the greater Boston area. Take a side road to the nearest state park, however, and you would never guess that you’re less than 80 miles from big-city Boston as the forest and lakes seem to drown out the rest of the world for a peaceful and relaxing paddle boarding experience.
- Mystic River
- Charles River
- Walden Pond
- Chatham Harbor
- Nickerson State Park
- Ashland State Park
- Marblehead Beach
Massachusetts is a great place to go paddle boarding if you want a casual experience with a range of options for outdoor exploration.
Where Can You Paddle Board in Colorado?
Colorado is one of the best states you can visit if you’re looking for a mountain respite with plenty of lakes and rivers to relax in. As long as you have access to a vehicle, it’s easy to travel through Colorado’s vast landscape, and you’ll see just how diverse it can be. With over 2,000 reservoirs and lakes, you don’t have a shortage of paddle boarding opportunities no matter what part of the state you are in. Check out these popular paddle boarding spots:
- Cherry Creek
- Boyd Lake
- Mussel Beach
- Gross Reservoir
- Glenwood Springs Park
- Bear Creek Lake
- Dillon Reservoir
Home to state parks like Chatfield State Park and Lory State Park, you also have a range of options available for camping, swimming, and other outdoors activities no matter where you are across Colorado’s grand geography. If you’re looking for more information about destinations in this region, visit our SUP in Colorado page.
Best Places to Paddle Board in New Hampshire
While New Hampshire is perhaps best known for its appeal to the ‘mountain man’ style of living, it’s no stranger to seasonal traffic from neighboring states. New Hampshire is an easy New England destination for outdoor recreation all times of year. In the winter, there’s skiing; in autumn, it’s leaf-peeping, and all year long there’s hikers attempting to best the 4,000+ foot mountains.
New Hampshire is also becoming a great paddle boarding destination, and there’s plenty of lakes and rivers to keep your board in the water for a long time. Check out some of these top destinations in New Hampshire:
- White Lake
- Lake Winnipesaukee
- Pawtuckaway Lake
- Hampton Beach State Park
- Umbagog Lake
- Great Bay
- Wellington State Park
- Lucas Pond
- Lake Sunapee
- Ogunquit Beach
Whether you’re looking for a mountain hike to your paddle boarding destination, or somewhere close to civilization and upscale restaurants, there’s plenty for you to choose from. There’s plenty of paddle rental places along more popular lakes and beachfronts in the summertime, too.
Can You Bring Your Board to Hawaii?
Hawaii is a common place for paddle boarders to flock to. Not only are the flights cheap because it’s a part of the continental U.S., but it’s an accessible area for paddle boarders to get those tropical vibes and aqua-colored waters without applying for a visa.
Because of how popular it is, Hawaii has a lot of restrictions in place to keep recreation in check and prevent the degradation of their natural resources. Their ban on certain types of sunscreens is just one of many great conservation efforts they are making to ensure the high-traffic ecosystems stay beautiful and stable. They’re also no strangers to people trying to bring surfboards and paddle boards with them on the flight.
According to Hawaiian Air, they will accept surfboards and similar items (that includes hard paddle boards!) packed into a board bag with adequate padding. While they do not mention anything about inflatable paddle boards, it’s still worth checking it into your luggage. As long as you don’t go over-weight with your bag and declare it when they ask about sports equipment, you aren’t likely to have any trouble.
Can You Paddleboard Anywhere?
There are a lot of places that allow recreational activities on the water. This doesn’t mean that you can paddle board anywhere, however. Each body of water is owned by a different entity, so some bodies of water may be off limits, especially if they are reservoirs for drinking water.
In most cases, the type of recreational activities will be posted at the boat ramp or trailhead. If you aren’t sure what’s allowed, take a look online or call the posted recreational office’s number for more information. (2)
“From scenic swims in glassy water to kayaking through waters surrounded by canyons, US lakes offer something for everyone.”
If there is access to the water, such as a beach or boat ramp, there’s a good chance that paddle boarding is allowed. Fortunately, paddle boards are versatile in that they can be inflated and dropped in the water just about anywhere.
In some cases, paddle boards may not be permitted in notoriously choppy water, or in waters that are polluted or are heavily trafficked by boats and other motored vehicles. Always keep your surroundings in mind when you are paddle boarding, and pay attention to the water conditions.
Can You Paddle Board on a River?
If you’re looking to paddle board in a place that doesn’t have many lakes or beachfronts to accommodate your paddle boarding fever, then you might want to look at your local rivers.
A lot of local rivers and winding waterways with boat access will allow paddle boarding, though it’s important to look at individual recreation restrictions for these areas. This can be a scenic way to get your paddle boarding in for the day, even if you don’t want to go far.
Plus, rivers can provide you with a surprising diversity of water conditions. Some rivers are fast and strong, providing an opportunity for advanced paddlers to work with the current with whitewater paddle boarding. This can be dangerous for beginner paddle boarders, however, so take caution with fast-moving water.
For a relaxing and scenic experience, look for rivers with flat water and slow currents. This doesn’t mean that the river doesn’t have an under-current, however, so it’s best for intermediate to advanced paddlers. It’s always recommended that you paddle board with someone for safety, especially if you are a beginner.
Do You Need a License to SUP?
In most cases, you don’t need a license to stand up paddle board on the lake. You are, however, considered a small vessel, so you will be regulated to the same rules as boaters when it comes to safety equipment and rules on the water.
Some states do require a boating license to paddle board larger or longer boards. In South Dakota, boards longer than 12’ must be registered. In Minnesota, boards longer than 10’ must be registered, and in Iowa, boards longer than 13’ must be registered unless it is an inflatable board.
In Iowa, you are given a 60-day grace period for registration, which is helpful if you do not live there. Minnesota has a 90-day grace period. These grace periods are subject to change, however, so if you have any questions about licensure in these states, you should be sure to contact the recreation department for that state.
Oregon and Idaho require your board to have an invasive species sticker for the waterways, and all SUP boarders must stop for inspection at inspection stations. This helps combat the spread of invasive aquatic species in these regions and is a great example of helpful conservation efforts in these local regions.
What Do You Wear for Paddleboarding on Vacation?
You should wear whatever you are used to paddleboarding with while on vacation, but keep in mind to dress for the weather. The weather in your hometown today doesn’t necessarily reflect the weather on top of a mountain or on a tropical island a week from now.
Be sure to pack a bathing suit, a hydrophobic shirt (either short or long-sleeved) and a rash guard. You may also choose to pack a pair of water-resistant shorts like board shorts based on your comfort level and how you typically like to dress on the water.
Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, either!
- Forbes, Inflatable SUPs Are Ideal for Travel, https://www.forbes.com/sites/everettpotter/2022/07/27/inflatable-sups-are-ideal-for-travel/
- Outdoors, 5 Lakes to Check Out Across the U.S., https://outdoors.com/5-lakes-to-check-out-across-the-u-s/