Top 10 Overlooked Dangers When Stand Up Paddleboarding

When stand-up paddleboarding, it’s important to understand potential problems that may arise, as you wouldn’t want to find yourself in trouble on a board in the middle of the large body of water. While paddleboarding is an enjoyable and relaxing hobby when you take proper precautions if you are unaware of your surroundings or don’t take recommended safety measures you can put yourself and others at risk of injury. Luckily, we’re here to help you understand the potential dangers so you can be safe and enjoy your next SUP adventure!

Underwater wildlife

One of the biggest things that most people tend to worry about when participating in watersports is dangerous wildlife that might be lurking under the water. From sharks and water snakes to stingrays and jellyfish, underwater wildlife can be scary, and while it isn’t something you should worry about too much it’s a good idea to be prepared and know what to do in dangerous situations. Before a paddleboarding trip, do a little bit of research about the animals in the area and the potential dangers they pose and what to do when encounter them. Most often if they don’t feel threatened, they would love to leave you alone.

Being pulled out to sea

While it’s not the part of the equation if you’re paddleboarding in a lake or river, if you’re paddleboarding in the ocean you need to be aware of the risk of being pulled out to sea by the current or the wind. When you go SUPing it’s important to be prepared for what to do in the event of an emergency like this, as your body catches a lot of wind and can push you out further onto the water. You can read more in our article on paddling in the ocean.

Overstretching injuries and sore muscles

While most people don’t associate injuries with SUPs, there are still some potentially problematic injuries that can result from poor technique or a lack of safety equipment. If you paddle with your spine bent instead of straight up it can cause back injuries over time, especially if you’re a frequent paddleboarder. Practice proper paddling technique at all times, especially while you’re just beginning so that you can develop good habits and take care of your body as you begin to paddle farther and faster.


One of the most significant dangers in paddleboarding or any water activity is the danger of drowning. The easiest way to protect against this is to wear your basic safety equipment like a life jacket and ankle leash. Stand-up paddleboarding might not be a great activity for you if you aren’t a strong swimmer, so just make sure you feel comfortable out in the water by yourself before you go out on a SUP.

Board rash

Similar to a surfboard, a paddleboard can give you board rash if you spend time moving around while laying down on it. This can be an issue when you’re paddle surfing. To help keep yourself from getting board rash, wear long sleeves when you go out on your SUP. A long sleeve dry-fit shirt is your best defense from this. But with inflatable paddle boards, this usually is not an issue.


When paddleboarding for long periods of time you want to be aware of the heat and especially the UV index, as on some days if you aren’t taking proper precautions, you can get serious sunburns. Make sure to bring a wide-brimmed hat and thin, loose-fitting clothing that can help protect you from UV rays. Additionally, be sure to wear sunblock, even on the parts of your body that are covered with clothing.

Getting lost

It’s easy to lose track of your surroundings when you’re out on the water for an extended period of time, especially if you’re paddleboarding in a place you’ve never been before. If you’re just casually paddleboarding by a beach, try to make sure you’re in view of your stuff on the beach or your car nearby at all times. This will help give you a frame of reference for where you’re at in relation to where you started and will make it more difficult to get lost. Remember to let others know where you’ll be if you go out paddleboarding by yourself so that they know where to look for you in the event of an emergency.

Breaking the law

When paddleboarding it’s important to keep in mind any local or federal laws that you need to follow. This includes being aware of places on the water that are designated for boats and other motorized watercraft as well as staying out of areas that are reserved for protecting wildlife. A paddleboarding adventure is always fun but it’s not worth the risk of fines or other legal penalties.

Water pollution and sickness

In certain areas, dangers from water pollution can negatively affect paddleboarders or anyone else spending time in the water there. To stay away from water pollution, stay far away from runoff pipes, chemical treatment plants, factories, and other industrial locations. Additionally, you can get sick from ingesting water that’s stagnant even if it’s not necessarily polluted. Try to keep water out of your mouth when paddleboarding, and bring water bottles filled with filtered water so you have something safe to drink.

Equipment being stolen

When paddleboarding you also want to be careful about the possibility of your equipment or other possessions being stolen. Keep an eye on your belongings on the shore if you go paddleboarding without anyone to watch your things. It may be a good idea to just leave your belongings out of sight in a locked vehicle when you go out on the water. You may also consider purchasing a waterproof bag to keep on your paddleboard with you when you SUP. Not only will this keep your belongings safe, but it also provides a convenient way to carry snacks, water, or other necessities with you on your paddleboarding journey.

In conclusion

If you remember to stay aware of your surroundings and are prepared and responsible on your board, stand-up paddleboarding can be an exciting adventure.  Be sure to wear your safety gear, mind the weather and local wildlife, and be aware of any rules and restrictions in your local lake, river, or ocean.

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