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Stunning getaways for stand up paddle boarding

Nearly three quarters of our planet is covered in water and mostly inhabitable. With limited ways to explore, however, it’s no surprise stand up paddling has become a fun and popular pastime. Here are our favorite places to go stand up paddle boarding.

A man paddles a paddleboard across a misty lake with a mountain rising in the background at Grand Teton National Park; Stand up paddle boarding
From the sea to the mountains and everything in between, if there is a body of water, it can be paddled. In this case, it's Grand Teton National Park © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet

USA

From tropical Hawaii and Florida, to California where paddlers are taking over, and even to remote and rugged Alaska and the Great Lakes, it seems everywhere can be paddled. Whether it’s fresh or saltwater, flat water or rushing river, someone somewhere has paddled it in this most popular country for the sport.

SUP Hot Spot: Lake Tahoe sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. With its mountainous landscape, rocky shoreline, and crystal-clear waters, it’s a must-do paddle for any and all levels.

French Polynesia

Tahiti and the other atolls of French Polynesia wait patiently to be viewed from a paddle board, standing in a coral lagoon without a ripple in sight. Slap on your sunglasses and let the blue hues of the South Pacific remind you why this place is so special.

SUP Hot Spot: Bora Bora on the island of Mo’orea is the lagoon paddle scene of your dreams. Want sharks and rays to swim right beneath your board? This is the place.

View of the back of a man in the distance, standing on a paddle board, paddling out alone into the ocean towards the waves; places for stand up paddle boarding
Australia has some of the most beautiful terrain you could ever glide over on a paddle board © Andrew Hanlon / Getty Images

Australia

A country surrounded by water, Australia offers every kind of paddling experience imaginable. From ultra-clear lagoons to a peaceful harbor paddle, catching a few waves or exploring one of the largest coral reef systems on the planet, the place begs to be seen with paddle in hand.

SUP Hot Spot: The Great Barrier Reef is best seen from a SUP. With a bird’s eye view of all the beauty that lies below, it’s an unforgettable experience.

Costa Rica

Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is perfectly perched with the paddler in mind. It’s just a simple paddle from one cove to the next along palm-lined shores. Or perhaps you’d prefer the adrenaline-filled rush of catching a few waves. Costa Rica offers the choice of two tropical joys in one small country worth paddling.

SUP Hot Spot: Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast is sheer beauty on display. Where else can you see monkeys while paddling?

 

Mexico

With three varied bodies of water offering unique discovery options, Mexico’s enormous coastline needs to be paddled. Let the coconut-laden shores draw you in with whale sharks swimming beneath your board and fun warm waves to push you into Mexico’s paddling paradise.

SUP Hot Spot: Puerto Vallarta offers every style of paddling. With a fun-for-the-whole-family attitude, everyone can enjoy a paddle on this stretch of Jalisco coast.

Italy

With the blues of the Ionian, Adriatic, and Tyrrhenian Seas amidst the majestic Mediterranean, the options to paddle are endless. The Alps offer alpine lakes to explore as well, meaning Italy checks all the boxes for a paddler’s exploratory bug.

SUP Hot Spot: Sicily’s coast and history beckon for an all-around enjoyable paddle experience. There’s always something new to learn on this Italian island.

Paddleboarder walking out of ocean carrying paddleboard; places to go stand up paddle boarding
South Africa is where two oceans collide, making conditions exciting for paddle boarders © Juice Images / Getty Images

South Africa

South Africa offers a unique feature: two oceans. The Atlantic (west of Cape Town) holds the desolate coast, with sand dunes and shipwrecks to explore. The Indian Ocean (east of Cape Town) draws you in with aqua blue waters and fun waves for the adventurous paddler.

SUP Hot Spot: Addington Beach, Durban offers a wide expansive beach for any paddle activity. Take to the waves and catch a couple, or cruise outside the swell lines and explore the coast.

Indonesia

The volcanic islands, world class tropical waters, reefs and passes of perfect waves scream for the paddler to come to Indonesia. Board and paddle become a gateway to a snorkeling paradise, or you can take a casual paddle into one of the thousands of rideable waves.

SUP Hot Spot: Raja Ampat has to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet to explore by paddle. Don’t believe it? Let the manta rays tell you.

Scenic View Of Fjord By Mountains Against Sky with two paddle boarders punting up the middle; places to go stand up paddle boarding
The fjords of Norway offer an incredible – if unexpected – vista for paddling © Joel Sparks / EyeEm / Getty Images

Norway

Think stand up paddle boarding is an exclusively warm-water sport? Think again. Whale watching, glacier cruising, and fjord exploring are now standup paddle boarding activities. Norway is taking the reins with tours, guided trips and expeditions to take you as deep as you wish into its beauty.

SUP Hot Spot: The Helgeland Coast is what most peoples’ screen savers are made of. With deep bays, traditional lodging, and cuisine fresh from the sea, you have to see it to believe it.

Thailand

With crystal-clear waters and limestone cliffs shooting out of the sea, the hardest decision you’ll make paddling in Thailand is where to go stand up paddle boarding. With a lifetime’s worth of bays, lagoons, and beaches to discover, our best advice is to let the tropical fish below your board guide you to the next gorgeous stretch.

SUP Hot Spot: Koh Phi Phi’s magical Andaman waters and insane geography make for not just a paddlers paradise but an all-around must see stop in Thailand. With rental boards right on the beach, it couldn’t get easier.

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