Paddling a stand up paddle board (SUP) is an great activity to get exercise and enjoy the beauty of a lake, river, or ocean, but in the wrong conditions, paddleboarding can become disappointing and even dangerous. Consider this to be your guide to choosing the perfect place to SUP and knowing the best type of weather to paddleboard in.
Finding the Perfect Place to SUP
When deciding what body of water to paddleboard in, remember, the calmer the water is, the easier it will be to paddleboard. If it is one of your first times on a paddle board, choose a place without flowing water. For example you could choose a bay, lake, or pond. Before getting into the water, stand on the shore to see if there are any potential hazards around. Do you see any rocks or logs under the surface or sticking out of the water? Rocks and logs can easily knock you off balance. Are there any hazards you can see below the surface? Sometimes if you hit a rock underneath the surface, it can damage your board, so pay special attention to anything visible below the surface.
Another thing to do before paddling is to watch the surface of the water, this will help you know if there are currents and what way they will cause to drift. Also be on the lookout for waves. If you’re at the ocean, take a moment to see if any waves break. Sometimes the ocean slows down for a few minutes before more waves come. You don’t want to paddle out only to get knocked off by a wave.
If you’re paddleboarding on a body of water other than the ocean, scan for hazards and look for boats and jet skis as they can make waves that can throw you off balance. Generally, when you first begin paddleboarding, find the calmest water possible.
Look for Useful Land Formations
Even if the ocean or lake seems too rough to paddleboard in, there is still hope. The shape of a coastline can provide shelter and calm places to paddle, even in adverse weather. First look for coves or bays. A cove or bay is an inlet in part of the coastline. The land cuts inland, creating a barrier from wind on many sides. This leads to calmer water that is easier to paddleboard on. A bay that has tall hills or mountains on the side can block even more wind. Some bays have only a narrow entrance, these are where you can find the calmest water on a turbulent day.
Know Your Skill Level
Going paddleboarding is most fun if you stay within your skill level. For example, if you are just beginning to paddleboard, choose places that are calm, wide open, and uncrowded. This will give you room to practice without the stress of running into anyone or anything. Before heading straight out to open water, take the time to paddled closer to shore. As you move further out in the water, it tends to get rougher, sometimes making it harder to balance as a beginner. After you get comfortable in calm water, the natural progression will be to move farther out in the water.
Finding a spot with a nice shoreline will help you have an enjoyable time. Paddleboarding can get exhausting—it works your whole body as you try and paddle and balance at the same time. Be on the lookout for a shoreline where you can relax and rest, and then you can go back out and paddle around more.
For intermediate to advanced paddlers, paddleboarding progresses into deeper water and longer paddles, maybe even catching a few waves on your paddle board. As you progress to higher skill levels, you can go to more places to paddleboard. You can handle small currents and rougher water as you explore more places on your board.
Understanding the Weather and Paddleboarding
The most important part of the weather to check is the wind. As the wind blows across the surface of water it creates waves and currents. Since a paddle board sits on the surface of the water, your board will naturally move with the wind. In high winds, it becomes almost impossible to paddle against the wind. Paddling in the wind can be hard work, so consider how much wind you feel comfortable handling.
One way to test how much the wind will affect your SUP is by standing in the water with your board laying on the water in front of you. Gently put your hand on the tail of the board so it doesn’t drift away from you, then watch the front of the board and see where and how fast the wind moves it.
While wind is the biggest factor in understanding the weather and paddleboarding, the temperature also comes into play. The ideal weather is clear and sunny—this will most likely bring pleasant temperatures and little to no wind. Depending on the day, you can still paddle in colder temperatures, just make sure to bring a wetsuit if the water is too cold without one.
It is best to avoid paddleboarding in stormy weather. Stormy weather makes a lake or ocean unpredictable and rowdy. If you paddle in stormy weather, you might spend more time in the water than on your board.
Ask for Advice
One great way to find the ideal place to SUP is by talking to people around the area. If you are visiting an area, try to find a shop that rents paddle boards. They will be able to point you in the right direction of good places to paddle around based on the conditions and your skill level.
Increase Your Paddleboarding Abilities
In your search for the best places to paddleboard, you will find a steady increase in your skills as you continue to practice. From paddling across a calm bay to surfing a wave on a paddle board, it is important to analyze the place you want to go and the kind of paddleboarding you want to do. The skills above will help you find the right place to paddleboard, and once you find the right place you can discover all that paddleboarding has to offer.