It’s during this last stretch of Spring, before the Earth finally gives way to summer, that I crave the water. The wind at my back, the warm, salty air, and wide open spaces. If you are like me, you’re already planning your next water getaway and that getaway includes plenty of time on your Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP).
In the US there is no lack of places serving up this trendy activity, but not all destinations are created equal. A good SUP destination should include environmental diversity, a SUP culture, and plenty of other activities to entertain when you aren’t on the water.
#5 Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Coming in at number 5 is South Carolina’s Hammock Coast. It certainly delivers on ecological diversity. From salt marshes to creeks to islands to the Atlantic Ocean, the area is a nature lover’s paradise and Surf the Earth is leading the SUP culture in the area. They offer a 2 hour eco-tour that will take you through the Litchfield Salt Marsh. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spy a bald eagle, an egret, or even an alligator. When you’re done for the day, you can lounge on the beach, take up a round of golf, or tour Atalaya Castle.
#4 Austin, Texas
It is claimed that more people paddle daily in Austin than any other city in the world. Perhaps that’s because Austin has 228 days of sunshine per year with the average temperature in July peaking at 95 degrees? Perhaps it’s because Texans love a good adventure? Regardless, it happens. And Austin SUPers can be found on Lady Bird Lake. The calm waters are powered watercraft free and the lake offers stunning views of downtown Austin. While Lady Bird Lake is the most popular choice, you can also head to Lake Austin or even nearby Lake Travis for a little diversity. When you’re done for the day, Austin has plenty to offer from live music to tacos that will knock your socks off.
#3 30a, Florida
Where Austin raised SUP ATX, 30a birthed YOLO. 30a is a relatively unknown road that stretches between Destin and Panama City. While its neighboring cities are known for spring break style beach trips, 30a has a quieter pace. It is one of three places in the US where you can find coastal dune lakes, perfect for your paddleboard adventure. These lakes are one of 30a’s best kept secrets and an ideal spot to paddleboard. While visiting the area you can checkout the YOLO Board® headquarters or try your hand at Paddleboard Yoga, said to bring “peace, serenity, and six-pack abs”. While the coastal lakes are the most popular place to paddleboard along 30a, the area also offers easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay. There are also plenty of hidden spots where there is nothing but you and your thoughts. When you aren’t paddleboarding, you will find there is plenty to do while exploring the charming towns that span from easygoing to fabulous.
#2 Lake Tahoe
The crystal-clear water of Lake Tahoe framed by the Sierra Nevada Mountains is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring places to paddleboard in the world. While the lake spans over 190 square miles, the Tahoe Daily Tribune has mapped out the 10 best paddleboard trips in the area. Believe it or not, there are times when the lake is warm and more often than not, the water near the beaches remains calm, and there are extremely shallow areas making it a great trip for the whole family.
When you’re done for the day, I suggest sitting down at one of the amazing local bars or eatiers or getting swanky at the Highlands Bar inside the Ritz. Or, if you took my suggestion and brought the fam, checkout the Nevada Discovery Museum in nearby Reno.
#1 Honolulu, Hawaii
And the best place to paddleboard in the US? Hawaii! Paddleboarding, or as they call it hoe he’e nalu, certainly has Polynesian roots. Of course, taking your own board to Hawaii might be a bit out of reach, but SUP rentals are easy to come by in Honolulu.
How Nalu Hawaii rents boards by the day or week and they also offer tours. And while Hawaii is known for big waves, they can certainly guide you to quiet bays and other glassy spots - unless, of course, you are seeking a challenge. If you really want to try something different, glo-supping is an amazing nighttime adventure. And if you can’t find something else to do in Hawaii besides paddleboard, then aloha ‘oe.
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