Whether it’s down a winding river surrounded by beautiful mountains or in the open ocean amongst schools of fish, the best paddleboarding destinations in the US allow you to take in some of the most breathtaking, awe-inspiring waterscapes.
No matter how you enjoy the sport—racing, surfing, doing yoga, or just simply paddling—there’s a jaw-dropping location for you. Feast your eyes and plan your next getaway for these amazing SUP spots.
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Hanalei Bay, arguably the most beautiful beach on Kauai, has stretches of sand two miles long. The water is blue-crystal clear, the mountains are green and lush, and if you look close enough, you’ll see waterfalls pouring down the mountain side. The bay is calm enough for a leisure paddle, but if you’re looking for some waves, just paddle out and to the right near the reefs.
Weeki Wachee River, Florida
The Weeki Wachee River in Florida is a five-and-a-half-mile-long river, so you can only imagine the day you might have aboard your SUP. With every turn, there’s a place to pull off and picnic. Or to climb a tree and jump in. Or to rope swing into the crystal clear water. Similar to Ginnie Springs and Three Sisters Springs, you’ll see manatees and colorful fish beneath the kayakers, canoers, and fellow paddlers. Here, it costs $6 to launch your own paddleboard, or $40 to rent one. Just be sure to make a reservation several days in advance—Weeki Wachee gets crowded fast and they only let 70 boats launch an hour.
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is a peaceful place to paddle with friends or by yourself—the nature and beauty are all you really need to keep you company. As you paddle across underwater boulders and look up to see snow capped mountains, you might also see those same mountains reflected right in front of your board when the water is as smooth as glass. You can launch your paddleboard at many locations, including Crystal Bay, Emerald Bay, and Sugar Pine Point State Park, all with accessible parking.
Apostle Islands on Lake Superior
Between sea caves and 21 islands, Apostle Islands is a paddleboard trip unlike any other. The cliffs are red, the trees are green, and the water is clear, all creating an unparalleled picture. When it’s windy out, you’ll encounter some white caps, but on a calm day, paddling through the caves is beyond relaxing. While there are many ways to explore Apostle Islands, paddleboarding gives you an up close look at the ancient landmarks—this is one to put on your bucket list!
Lake Powell, Arizona
You’ll feel like you’re adventuring back in time, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, when you explore Lake Powell. With over 150 miles of blue-green winding water between orange-red canyons, every stroke of your paddle will lead you to a remote breathtaking sight. The lake is nestled in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area right on the Utah/Arizona border—and so you can set your travel plans, the most accessible way to get to the lake is from Page, AZ. Consider renting a houseboat to truly get the most out of everything the lake offers as a day’s time is not enough to explore it all.
Bear Lake in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
At Bear Lake, you won’t find a more isolated SUP adventure. You’ll have to bundle up, but it’s worth it when you see bears hunting for salmon as you paddle between huge icebergs. In such a remote location, the only way to access the lagoon is by water taxi or helicopter and a tour guide is recommended. But once you’re there, you’ll be in awe of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the calm lake. In the quiet, you’ll hear the icebergs release air bubbles trapped for thousands of years.
La Jolla Cove, California
Make sure to wake up early to beat the crowds, as this adventure is a popular one. Park at La Jolla Shores Beach and paddle out and to the left toward to cove. The waters are protected, which means scuba divers, snorkelers, kayakers, and swimmers alike venture out to La Jolla Cove to view the lush marine life—from stingrays to leopard sharks—and to take in the iconic cliffline beauty. When you get to the cove, approach it with caution as a strong current can make exploring inside dangerous. And don’t forget to look up: cliff jumping is also very popular here.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Over 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake was a volcano that erupted and collapsed in on itself, creating the natural attraction you can visit today; it’s also the deepest lake in the United States (at 1,943ft. deep). Most people stay in Bend and make a day trip to the stunning lake because lodging close to the lake is limited. But once you get there and launch your board, the wildlife and jutting mountains that surround you make anyway you choose to explore the lake worth it.
Wailua River, Kauai
Kauai is the most lush island in all of Hawaii—and the Wailua River proves it. As you paddle down the river, you’ll feel at peace surrounded by greenery, wildflowers, and waterfalls. There are several stops you can make along your paddle, including the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, the Secret Falls Hike (which takes you through King and Queen’s Bath and brings you to a beautiful 120ft. tall waterfall), Fern Grotto, and the Swimming Hole. Whichever adventure you choose to take, the picturesque scenery won’t disappoint.
French Broad River, Asheville, North Carolina
Paddle through forest green mountains, observe North Carolina’s wildlife, and explore the third oldest river in the world. The river flows right along the Arts District, where you can peel off for a drink or bite to eat, or you can continue paddling and admire the Biltmore Estate. Just take note that the river gets packed with tubers, kayakers, and other SUPers during summer days, so consider paddling during sunrise or sunset if you’re looking for peace and relaxation.
The Mangroves, Florida Keys
The Florida Keys offer more than just a beautiful vacation destination with rolling white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters. While you’re there, take the opportunity to paddle through some of the 1,800 miles worth of mangrove shoreline — the big twisted roots create a diverse ecosystem, allowing you to take in Florida’s unique wildlife (like the occasional manatee sighting). If you’re not sure where to start, try Dusenbury Creek in Key Largo; you’ll paddle through some of the most beautiful mangrove tunnels in all of Florida.