Best places to stand-up paddle board

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Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUPing as it’s colloquially known, has taken the world by storm since it was first made popular by the surfing gods of Hawaii. It seems like everyone who spends time near the water, be that on a river, lake, or ocean, is heading out with a heavy board under their arm and a long paddle in hand. SUPing vacations are now very on-trend. However, for a little more than just paddling on that upcoming SUP holiday — like savoring snow-capped mountain vistas, sampling excellent local wines, or taking a historic city tour — we recommend these incredible places to stand-up paddle around the world.

Mauritius

Woman SUPing in the tropics

Photo: Studio Peace/Shutterstock

People in search of warm water and island vibes often skip over the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, heading instead to the well-known islands of the Caribbean. However, if you want posh accommodations at an affordable price tag, you should definitely consider Mauritius. Mauritius’s over 200 miles of coastline are dotted with luxury hotels, most of which offer guests the chance to take to the water on a stand-up paddle board as part of your nightly rate. This lets you paddle board as long as you want, fall as many times as you can, and really just enjoy the experience of learning to SUP. With warm, gin-clear waters that are home to turtles and starfish, there’s no better way to spend the day. When you do get the hang of it and it’s time for a lunch break, you can choose from several excellent seafood restaurants along the marina areas of Grand Baie and Black River.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

SUPers in Amsterdam

Photo: M&M SUP Amsterdam/Facebook

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If you would rather trade in sunny beaches and remote island destinations for an energetic spot, then head to the Netherlands. The vibrant city of Amsterdam, rich in history, is the perfect stand-up paddle boarding destination. The city is crisscrossed by 165 canals, and seeing it from a SUP provides a totally unique perspective. You can paddle past leaning buildings and historical landmarks on a guided tour as you learn about the history of Amsterdam through outfits like M&M SUP Amsterdam or venture off on your own into the suburbs to discover a world of tree-lined canals, parks, and serenity. Other SUPing options include guided tours to castles and windmills or taking to the water at night to see the full moon or lights of the city.

Lake Tahoe, California

Paddle boarding surrounded by mountains

Photo: topseller/Shutterstock

In the winter months, the mountain resorts surrounding California’s Lake Tahoe are home to some of the best skiing in the world. However, in summer, the largest alpine lake in North America truly comes into its own — with those scenic mountains reflected in the clear waters down below. The water can be chilly, given the lake’s incredible depth of over 1,600 feet and the snow that drains into it during the spring thaw, but the beauty of this destination is hard to beat. While California is home to more SUPing spots than anyone can count, Lake Tahoe is the most beautiful: the pine trees, flat water, and mountain backdrop proving picture perfect. The lake is home to a large community of stand-up paddle boarders, so you’ll be in good company, and several adventure-sports centers are on hand for lessons and rentals.

Hawaii

Candice Applebee competes in the stand up paddle division during the Buffalo's Classic Big Board

Photo: Mana Photo/Shutterstock

No list about the world’s best stand-up paddle boarding spots would be complete without mentioning Hawaii. Known as the birthplace of both surfing and stand-up paddle boarding, the sport was popularized by the beach boys of Hawaii who came up with the idea in the ‘60s. SUP yoga, SUP surfing, SUP touring and even SUP fishing are all popular pastimes in Hawaii, both for locals and tourists. The Big Island provides a number of easily accessible SUPing spots with Kealakekua Bay being a firm favorite because of the clarity of the water. A variety of day trips exist on the Big Island for anyone wanting to explore the natural beauty of the island while combining their SUPing experience with amazing snorkeling, cliff jumping, and beach picnics. Kauai’s rivers and protected bays also provide easy stand-up paddle boarding locations while Oahu is a good option for anyone wanting to get away from the crowds.

The Canadian Rockies

Canadian landscape, with turquoise water lake, forest of pine trees and Rocky Mountains

Photo: Sandra Mori/Shutterstock

Holding a similar appeal to that of Lake Tahoe, Canada’s best stand-up paddle boarding spots are characterized by flat, wide expanses of pristine lakes bordered by sprawling forests, all set at the foot of majestic snow-capped mountain ranges. This is particularly the case in the Canadian Rockies where quiet, clear waters and secret beaches allow you the chance to reconnect with nature and immerse yourself in a surreal setting that defines solitude. You’ll find paddle board rentals in places like ever popular Lake Louise in Banff National Park. For a more remote escape, the crystal clear reflections of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park are unforgettable. However, the lone boathouse there only rents canoes, so you’ll have to drive in with your own board to this location.

Cape Town, South Africa

A scenic view of the turquoise water of Langebaan lagoon at Kraalbaai with houseboats and other boats in the water with a clear blue sky

Photo: LouisLotterPhotography/Shutterstock

Cape Town, South Africa, has a variety of spots where you can take to the water, be that on a first-time excursion around the waterfront or wave riding at the likes of Big Bay or Muizenberg, which are on either side of the Cape Peninsula. If you want to combine your passion for stand-up paddle boarding with a tour of this beautiful region, many SUPing spots can be found along the coast within just a few hours of the city. Head north along the west coast to Langebaan for flat turquoise waters or venture down the famed Garden Route and discover idyllic rivers that meander through lush forests. After you’re done paddling, there are a lot of other things to do, as well, from abseiling off Table Mountain to enjoying the incredible food and wine of the region’s vineyards.

Thailand

Young man floating on a SUP board

Photo: Kuznetcov_Konstantin/Shutterstock

Thailand’s beaches are known to attract hordes of tourists looking for a budget sand-and-sun getaway. One great way to get away from the crowds is to explore the secret caves and coves of the country’s many islands on a stand-up paddle board. Krabi is possibly the most picturesque place to explore on a SUP, both from the ocean and the land side, with a variety of rivers and inland caves complimenting the majestic beaches and rocky outcrops. The tiny island of Phi Phi is also a great spot to just get away from it all. When SUPing here, be sure to pack a snorkel as the island is dotted with hidden spots where large schools of colorful fish can be seen in shallow waters.

Norway

Young woman doing stand up paddle board in a lake

Photo: Fernando Carnevale/Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a life-changing experience and can stomach the cold, then Norway offers a stand-up paddle boarding experience quite unlike any other. Seeing the majestic fjords from your SUP will give you a profound view of this part of the world while sightings of seals, dolphins, and whales are also a possibility. Most of the SUP tours here take place around the area of Sognefjord, the longest navigable fjord in the world. Multiple-day expeditions are available up and down the various arms of this fjord, including the spectacular Nærøyfjord — a UNESCO heritage site that boasts outstanding scenery. Certain extreme adventures have even taken the experience to new heights, traveling through the fjords in pursuit of the northern lights.

North Portugal

Landscape of the Douro River in Portugal

Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Far removed from the tourist beaches of southern Portugal, the northern reaches of the country are dotted with vineyards, cobblestone villages, and authentic cultural experiences. Outside the city of Porto, you can rent a stand-up paddle boat or take a SUP tour and venture down the Douro River, using your time to drink in the views or stand-up paddle board to one of the wine farms bordering the river. Claiming Port wine as their own, this region is home to some of the oldest wine farms in the world that are arguably still serving some of the best wine and food you’ll ever have the pleasure of tasting. Further north, up towards Spain, the port town of Viana do Castelo allows for SUPing adventures down the Lima River, with the currents helping to give you a nudge in the right direction.

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