World's Best Stand-Up Paddleboarding Spots

The water sport that’s making waves around the globe? Stand-up paddleboarding. From its start in Hawaii to its popularity along the mangroves of Key West, see the best spots to “walk on water.”

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Jody Wall -- REO Rafting Resort

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: iStock

Photo By: Justin Lewis

Photo By: Nick Borsodi -- Olympus Sup Fit

Photo By: Bradley Gordon

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Hawaii

Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, began in the 1960s in Hawaii with the “Beach Boys of Waikiki” paddling out on their long boards to take photos of tourists learning to surf. Surf pioneer Laird Hamilton popularized stand-up paddleboarding in the late 1990s; since then it has become the fastest growing watersport in the US.

Santa Barbara, California

After its origin in Hawaii, SUP went on to make a splash on California’s surfing scene. SUP doesn't require waves; its popularity is due in part to how easy it is to learn on flat water. The calm water in the Santa Barbara Harbor is just one of the Golden State’s popular spots for SUP.

Bahamas

A 120-mile-long chain of islands in the Bahamas, Abacos is an ideal place for SUP with its clear and calm water. As you glide over the stunning blue-green ocean, you’ll see colorful reef and exotic Bahamas marine life, from parrotfish to sea turtles.

Whistler, Canada

The resort town of Whistler hasn’t met a sport it didn’t like. So when the snow’s melted off the ski slopes, the outdoorsy types here pick up a summer sport like SUP. This versatile sport can be enjoyed on Whistler’s brilliant-blue lakes like Alta Lake and Alpha Lake. With the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the background, SUP is a great way to take in all the beauty of Sea to Sky Country.

Costa Rica

While this Central American hot spot is known more for surfing, SUP is quickly building momentum here, especially with tourists who don’t want to spend a week’s vacation learning to catch a wave. With its flat-water bay and exotic sea life, Playa Danta in the Guanacaste region is one of the country’s best spots for SUP. With water and air temperatures hovering around 85 degrees year-round, you won’t mind falling off your board here either.

Key West

The relaxed pace of stand-up paddleboarding fits well with the laid-back attitude of this island paradise. Take in all the natural beauty of Key West with a SUP tour along the mangrove forests. Keep an eye out for abundant marine life -- from stingrays to manatees -- in this diverse and protected ecosystem.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The south-of-the-border paradise of Puerto Vallarta is ideal for SUP-ers of all levels. Glide along the calm warm water in Banderas Bay and soak up the seascapes of this Pacific haven. Keep an eye out for dolphins, humpback whales and sea turtles that inhabit this area.

Redondo Beach, California

Another added bonus about SUP? It’s a great core workout. For those looking for even more of a challenge, take your workout to the water with SUP Yoga. Classes are springing up all across the U.S, from L.A. to D.C., offering devotees a way to practice yoga outside on a beautiful day. Combining yoga with the calming effects of being on the water? Pure bliss.

Seattle

It seems every direction you look in Seattle there’s water … and more water. From Puget Sound to Green Lake to Lake Washington to Elliott Bay, there’s no shortage of bodies of water to explore on a paddleboard. Forget about touring Seattle on foot; SUP your way along Seattle’s waterways to see the city's best views and unique houseboats that line the coastline.

Black Canyon, Nevada

Leave the dark casinos behind and escape to the Colorado River just outside of Las Vegas for a SUP adventure. Paddleboarding here gives you a unique perspective of Black Canyon, a majestic 600-foot-deep gorge where the Hoover Dam was built. Don’t miss exploring the hidden caves and hot springs along the river, too.

Lake Tahoe, California

When this ski town thaws out in summer, there’s nothing better than paddling on the crystal-clear water of Lake Tahoe with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains as your backdrop. There’s no shortage of Lake Tahoe coastline to explore, either. You even can paddle across the California-Nevada state line from the North Shore Kings Beach to Crystal Bay in Incline Village, Nevada.

Antarctic Peninsula

Think SUP’s only a warm weather sport? Its popularity has even reached Antarctica. SUP offers a better advantage over kayaking for nature enthusiasts in the Antarctic Peninsula to navigate through the ice and to see penguins and seals swimming underwater. Just try not to fall off your board into these icy waters!

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