Paddleboarding 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Standup paddleboarding (SUP) has taken over the watersports industry in recent years. Those who can’t land a backflip on a wakeboard or can’t stay on a surfboard can still enjoy the thrill of the water, thanks to this up-and-coming sport.  

Paddleboarding is fairly easy to learn and takes you out on the water to explore the world from a whole new perspective.  

Ready to get started? Use this guide to find out what you need for paddleboarding, where to enjoy the sport, and how to stay safe on the water.

What You Need for Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding doesn’t require much to get started, but it can be a bit of a financial investment. You’ll need the basic equipment and safety gear, and may want to invest in some accessories to complete the experience.


First, you’ll need a quality paddleboard, which can range anywhere from $300 up to $1,000 or more. Paddleboards come in myriad shapes and styles and range from 9-11 feet, on average.  

There are three types of paddleboards: surf, allround, and flatwater.  

Surf paddleboards feature a narrow nose and shorter length and are made specifically for surf.

Allround paddleboards are ideal for first-time paddleboarders, as they are thicker, longer, and more stable. They offer the best of both worlds for flatwater paddling and open ocean paddling.

Flatwater paddleboards are ideal for calmer waters, such as lakes, rivers, and open ocean paddling. These boards glide smoothly and make a great option for beginners and pros alike.

Paddleboards also come in two types of material: solid and inflatable. Inflatable boards are lighter than solid boards and are ideal if your board won’t fit well in your car or existing storage. Solid boards are sturdier and are ready to go the moment you reach the water - no inflating required.

Most paddleboards will come with one paddle, but you may want to purchase a backup.


If your paddleboard isn’t equipped with a leash, you’ll want to buy one. This helps you stay connected to your board in case you were to fall off and can be important to your safety.  

There are different leashes for different board types, so make sure you get the right one.

Protective Gear

Being in the sun for hours at a time can be dangerous, so suit up with the right clothing and safety gear. At a minimum, you will likely want a hat, sunglasses, and rash guard. Many paddleboarders opt for a full wet suit, but it’s not required.

Also, you’ll need to wear a life jacket at all times. Bulky lifejackets can make it difficult to paddle, so consider alternative life jacket styles to help you look and feel your best.

Best Places to Paddle Board

Beginners should seek calmer waters when learning to paddle. Take time to get comfortable on your board and learn how to move your paddle to move in every direction.

The best places to paddle board are small coves, backwater tributaries, and quiet rivers that let you focus on technique.

Some of the favorite SUP destinations in the U.S include Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and the Florida Keys. Check out this travel article on some of the top paddleboarding spots in the country to start planning your trip.

Paddleboarding Safety Tips

Paddleboarding can be a tranquil pastime, but it’s not without its risks. Keep the following safety tips in mind before suiting up:

  • Be mindful of other people and paddlers in the water.
  • Wear a lifejacket at all times, even in shallow water.
  • Do your homework about high and low tides before you enter the water.
  • Pay close attention to where you put your board in, as shorelines tend to blur when you’re out on the water.
  • Only paddle in areas where paddling is allowed.
  • Wear your leash at all times! Even the slightest wind can blow your board far away from you.


Happy paddling!

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