Stand up paddle boarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular watersports, especially in locations with flat conditions and beautiful scenery. For both novices and experienced paddlers, the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com assembled a list of the "Top Ten Paddleboard Spots" to help you find the nearest ideal spot for paddle boarding.
Known as a luxurious honeymoon destination, few locales offer the bright blues and calm disposition of Bora Bora's lagoon. The flat conditions are ideal for a first-timer, and paddlers frequently spot manta rays in the lagoon, since it has visibility up to 150 feet! The featured photo, from the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, also illustrates the island's famous overwater bungalows.
Fantastic for both surfing and standup paddle boarding, Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu is legendary and with reason. If you happen to visit in the calmer summer months, you can paddle the 4 miles from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay.
Our chosen spot in Northern California, Santa Cruz provides a range of great breaks for all experience levels, from beginner to advanced. In addition to the shoreline, Covewater SUP of Santa Cruz leads tours through Elkhorn Slough, one of two remaining salt marshes in California, which gives you the opportunity to spy sea otters, harbor seals, and numerous species of birds.
Californians can debate for hours about which spots are the best, but votes were unanimous for Malibu amongst stand up paddle boarders. Gorgeous views, perfect weather, and miles of beaches to choose from exemplify why this city has been synonymous with surfing for years.
Located only 27.5 miles (44.3 km) north of Puerto Vallarta and just past Punta Mita, Sayulita is a quiet enclave with a big paddle following. The area hosts the Punta Sayulita Longboard & Stand Up Paddle Classic, which is becoming a big event for North American paddlers. However, if you'd rather paddle the Atlantic side of Mexico, Playa del Carmen is also a great spot to start.
If you're looking for a spot in the Caribbean, St. Lucia offers the perfect combination of calm waters, luscious scenery, and secluded bays for exploring by paddle board. The island's twin pitons, rolling rainforests, and turquoise waters provide ample eye candy during one's workout.
While surfers looking for big waves head to New South Wales, the best spot on the Australian continent for standup paddle boarding is Perth, the largest city in Western Australia. VirtualTourist members recommend Cottesloe Beach for visiting enthusiasts, but also noted that any fan of watersports should take a day trip to nearby Rottnest Island.
In the middle of Indonesia, Bali has long been known for its lush vegetation and temples, but it also has a growing following as a surf destination. While many tourists flock to the Kuta area near the airport, we suggest some of the slightly calmer, but much less crowded, beaches to the north, like Balian and Medewi. On the opposite side, Sanur is a great spot to check out for SUP.
While Peru might seem like an unlikely spot to catch some waves, Chorrillos hosted the World SUP & Paddleboard Championships this past February. Located just south of Lima (though still considered in the city proper), Chorrillos offers a number of great beaches and a fun option for paddle boarders who want to explore South America.
With its wide variety of waves and gorgeous scenery, South Africa is a natural choice for those who want to try stand up paddle boarding while in Africa. If you're visiting Cape Town, some ideal spots are Sunset Beach and Blouberg to the North of Table Mountain; to the South, Muizenberg and Strand are recommended. Langebaan Lagoon, located about an hour north of Cape Town, is a protected spot perfect for beginners and first-timers.
While these locations are ideal for stand up paddle boarding, the sport's skyrocketing popularity means it will become more and more available at most resorts. While competitions often feature waves and breaks, we'd suggest calm, flat conditions for your first paddling attempt.