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Do you already know the ins and outs of paddleboarding? Just want to know what’s the top pick this 2017?

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Looking for inflatable paddle boards or SUPs for the extra portability? These in-depth guides should be really helpful:

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If you’re looking for stand up, kayaking, surfing, or yoga paddleboards and SUPs these guides are what you need to read.

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Best Paddle Board for Surfing
Best Paddle Board For Yoga Enthusiasts
Best PFD for SUP and Kayaking

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Best Cheap Paddle Board

Stand up paddle boarding, often just referred to as SUP, is the act of moving yourself on a floating platform by using a pole or paddle. This activity dates back thousands of years and was used across a number of continents. While the paddle boards used in the past were rudimentary compared to modern options, they still had the same basic function.

Paddle Boards: The Beginning

What is known as paddle boarding today originated in Hawaii during the 1900s; however, there are records of earlier types of SUP dating back to 1,000 B.C., or more than 3,000 years ago.

Today’s paddle boarding involves a surfboard-like product that is stood on by the user. Surfing is a sport that also dates back to the 1900s, but its heritage is considered more common knowledge than that of paddle boarding. The pioneers of modern paddle boarding are Dave Kalama and Duke Kahanamoku from Hawaii. The sport reached California by the 2000s where Bob Pearson, Laird Hamilton, Ron House and Rick Thomas made the sport commonplace.

By the time 2005 arrived, SUP, which until that point had been mainly a discipline of surfing, started to diversify into fishing, yoga, rivers, touring and racing. It is the surfing heritage along with the various disciplines that made the sport extremely accessible and attractive to everyone from all over the world. This is what paved the way for its enthusiastic adoption and global growth.

The Earliest Forms of Paddle Boarding

When you begin looking into the earliest forms of paddle boarding, you won’t find items similar to the popular Tower Paddle Boards that are used today. The options were more basic, rustic and from the earth than the modern materials that are used today.

Essentially, the first paddleboarder can be dated back to anyone who stood up and paddled. However, in an effort to pinpoint the origins, the information here only focuses on those who used equipment that was specifically designed for the purpose of standing up and paddling. Some of the earliest users of paddle boarders included:

  • In Peru in 1000 BC
  • In Israel 700 AD
  • In Gondola, Italy 1400 AD
  • In Boat Hull, United Kingdom 1886 AD
  • In China with single-bamboo drifting in the 1900s
  • In Hawaii as surfboards in the early 1900s

Paddle Boarding: The Modern Movement

When you think of products such as the Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard, this is the type of item that is seen in modern paddle boarding activities. The modern sport or activity began on two Hawaiian Islands, Maui, and Oahu. The surfboard roots of this activity explain why many people use surfboards for this sport still today. A timeline of modern paddle boarding and key players in its development are highlighted here:

  • The early 1900s consisted of people such as Bobby and Leroy AhChoy and Duke Kahanamoku
  • In the mid-1900s, new stars emerged, including Joseph “Scooter-Boy” Kaopuiki and John “Zap” Zapotocky
  • During the latter part of the 1900s, you had Archie Kalepa, Brian Keaulana, Waterman, Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama
  • In the early 2000s was individuals such as Bob Pearson, Laird Hamilton, Ron House and Rick Thomas

The California Catalyst

In the 1900s, Hawaii served as the main area for modern paddling; however, in the 2000s, California was the new home. This is where the sport was diversified by new players who really wanted to see what it has to offer. While there are many instrumental figures to consider, few have done what Rick Thomas has in regard to bringing new people into the sport and even setting the entire tone for the paddleboarding community. Out of San Diego, Thomas was a Vietnam veteran and one of the most private and happiest people around. He introduced new people to SUP with an amazing attitude, which encouraged them to jump on a board and try it out.

Even though Laird was someone who was considered a “paddle boarding god” and served as an inspiration to others, Thomas offered the personal touch that has become such an important characteristic of the stand-up paddleboarding community.

Diversification of the Paddle Boarding Discipline

The modern face of paddle boarding has a clear and evident surfing heritage. It is also considered an exclusive surfing activity – well, this was true until approximately 2005. At this point, the surfing appeal that was made popular by people such as Leleo Kinimaka, Brian Keaulana, Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama began to make room for an all-new chapter in the history of SUP – a diversification of the discipline.

It was at this time that the standup paddlers started to participate in paddleboard races and eventually there were SUP only divisions created. Additionally, those into fitness started doing yoga and Pilates on boards designed specifically for those activities. From this point, stand up paddling started to emerge and evolve into something much more than just what was offered in the beginning.

Some of the pioneers in different users for paddleboards included:

  • Racing was the Hobie Dream Team (Byron Kurt, Colin McPhillips, Chuck Paterson) with Archie Kalepa
  • Surfing was Leleo Kinimaka, Laird Hamilton, Brian Keaulana and Dave Kalama
  • Flatwater and touring was Ernie Brassard
  • Fishing was BOTE and the West Coast Paddlers
  • Fitness and yoga was Sarah Tiefenthaler, Gillian Gibree and Nikki Greg
  • River was Charlie MacArthur, Corran Addison and Dan Gavere

The Worldwide Wave

By the time 2005, paddle boarding had grown exponentially. However, between the five year period of 2005 to 2010, stand up paddling and the products available, such as the Tower Adventurer 9’10” Inflatable SUP, grew quickly. It first gained popularity in the state of California and then spread to other areas throughout the United States. It was not only a fun activity but also a way to engage with a community and get healthy.

However, since California and Hawaii are considered world-renowned destinations for tourists, it didn’t take long for this activity and new sport to spread all the way around the world. There is no question that the sport was quickly adopted by other surf cultures, including France, Brazil and Australia. However, the flatwater appeal of the activity also became widespread and it was something participated in by the people of Germany, Portugal the UK and a number of other nations.

The Best Paddleboard Destinations Around the Globe

While searching for the best paddleboards is a great endeavor, even the best equipment means nothing if you don’t have a great location to use it. Here you can learn about some of the most popular locations for paddle boarders and what makes them so great. Regardless of if you use a PathFinder Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddleboard 9’9” or a 12’6” Surtech Lard Bark Tuflite Paddleboard the locations highlighted here are going to more than exceed your needs and expectations.

Sunset Beach in Oahu, Hawaii

Sunset Beach in Oahu, HawaiiThere is no question that Hawaii is a surfing mecca, which also means that it is not really surprising that it is also one of the top destinations for paddleboarding. There are quite a few great spots for this activity on the island of Oahu, with Sunset Beach being at the top of the list. On the north shore you will find some of the biggest waves on the planet during the winter months. As a result, this location has hosted some of the biggest and most popular surfing competitions in the world.

However, during the hotter months of the year, the water is calmer, which makes it the ideal destination for paddleboarding. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can even paddle your way to Waimea Bay, which is a four-mile trip. For beginners, a great location is found at Hale’iwa Beach Park and called Puaena Point.

Santa Cruz in California                                                                                                   

Santa Cruz in CaliforniaIf you are in Northern California, then a great location is Santa Cruz. While the water is somewhat colder regardless of what time of year it is, the wharf offers the ideal paddle boarding location for beginners. Even though you are going to have to share the area with sea lions, kayakers and surfers, you can enjoy some amazing wildlife while on the water, including whales.

Another great spot to try is the Santa Cruz Harbor, where you can also receive guides, lessons and purchase boards and gear, like the ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest and some of the best inflatable SUPS available today. If you are a bit more advanced with your paddle boarding capabilities, then Steamer Lane offers more options and a bit tougher environment.

Bali

If you are looking for the ideal year-round destination for paddle boarding, then Bali delivers. This location offers you a constant supply of glassy and consistent waves that are ideal for more advanced paddle boarders, as well as beginners. You can also avoid the larger crowds if you visit the less-visited beaches such as Balian and Medewi.

The Turks and Caicos Ilsands

The Turks and Caicos IlsandsPaddle boarding here will allow you to see the amazing turquoise waters and beautiful sea life swimming below your board. The calm, clear waters found in Grace Bay are the ideal area, with visitors to Alexandra Resort even being able to use the properties stand-up boards at no charge. For a more adventurous outing, take your board to Big Blue Unlimited and see a different side of the island when you paddleboard through the mangrove swamps and in the open shallows.

Lake Tahoe in California

Lake Tahoe in CaliforniaLake Tahoe’s crystal clear waters have offered amazing and unparalleled opportunities for those who are into recreational paddle boarding adventures. The breathtaking and natural beauty offered by this location is easily appreciated through this sport. The North Shore is the perfect location with glassy and tranquil waters and you can see as far down as 70 feet early in the morning. You can enjoy any spot on the 72 mile shore and the best time to go is in the morning or evening.

 

Perth in Australia

Perth in AustraliaIf you surf in Australia, you try to catch the big waves found on the New South Wales beaches; however, if you are a paddleboarder, you need to head to the biggest city in the western part of Australia – Perth. The flat and beautiful waters of Swan River are ideal for newbies who are trying to hone their technique and increase their confidence. Another location that is visited by many who enjoy this sport is Cottesloe Beach.

The Bahamas

The BahamasThere is over 120 miles of shoreline in the Bahamas and over 700 islands that are all surrounded by clear, tropical and calm waters. A great place to try out your Solstice Stand-Up Paddleboard 10’8” is at Abacos, which offers you a full beach and marine experience. If you are heading out to Nassau, you can also enjoy some time on your board in the water with sea turtles and schools of fish. Another location to consider for SUP is Great Exuma.

 

Costa Rica

Costa RicaWhile this is another location that is popular with surfers, it is also becoming more and more popular for paddle boarding. This is especially true for the tourists who don’t want to have to spend a week of their vacation just learning how to catch a wave. In the Guanacaste region, Playa Danta is one of the best destinations, and Jaco is ideal for those seeking seclusion for their time on the water.

 

Key West in Florida

Key West in FloridaFlorida is the ideal place for any type of water sport you may want to participate in. You can visit the island chain and ride your board with the tradewinds at your back to cover longer distances. If there is no wind to help you along your way, your board can be used as a platform for fishing or just to enjoy the quiet waters. The slow, relaxed attitude found in Key West is great for the slower paced activity and offers you the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery in the area and the marine life.

Tips for Selecting the Right Paddleboard for You

If you are ready to take part in this fun and exciting sport, then the next step is going to be to purchase a paddle board. With the right type of board, you can have a great time on the water and get in shape.

While there are more than a few options to choose from, finding the right paddleboard for your needs doesn’t have to be a difficult or overwhelming decision.

The first thing you need to do, is learn about the various types of paddleboards that are available. They include:

  • Boards that are surf specific
  • Touring boards also called all-around boards
  • Racing boards
  • Inflatable stand up paddleboards
  • Yoga/Pilates boards

Surfing Paddleboards

A surf stand up paddleboard is typically lighter, shorter, narrower and have a much narrower tail and nose. These are uniquely designed to provide high performance, fast turns and used mainly in the surf zone.

If you are planning on using the paddleboard to cover long distances, then this is not the right option for you. In fact, it will require that you do quite a bit of work to keep them on the right course. Also, they are not as stable as the bigger boards that are available.

Check out our best-rated Paddleboard for surfing – 12’6” Surtech Lard Bark Tuflite Paddleboard This is a great, durable board that can handle just about any surf conditions you throw at it!

 

Touring/All-Around Stand Up Paddleboards

These are considered to be multipurpose boards and are usually much longer, wider and have a greater volume. They also usually have a pointed nose. The volume and size make them more stable than the traditional wave boards.

If you plan on spending most of your time on flat water or on lakes outside of the surf zone, then this is the type of paddleboard that you need to purchase. These are also a great board option for beginners. If this is the first time that you are looking into a SUP, and you are going to be on flat water most of the time, then it is best to choose this option.

Our top all-around board is the ISLE Classis Soft Top SUP. It has a secure feel for the rider, features a unique soft top deck, and comes with a great warranty.

Stand Up Inflatable Paddleboards

The inflatable boards were introduced to the scene to solve several issues. The main issue that these were designed to solve was transportation and storage concerns. There are many paddlers who live in apartments of that have cars that are just too small to move large boards from one place to another. As a result, the inflatable options make perfect sense in these situations.

Another interesting factor about these boards is that if you are going to be on the river, the inflatable option is the best one. These will act like an inflatable raft, which allows you to avoid holes, and dings if you bump into or go over the rocks in the river.

Our top choice for an inflatable SUP is the Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard. It’s lightweight, yet surprisingly durable, and comes with a free bag, pump and gauge!

Racing Paddleboards                                  

In the paddling industry, racing boards have become a rather large sector. In fact, there are competitions in virtually every country and city around the world.

If you like the thrill of competition or just want to put some time into intense training, then a race board is going to be the best option. These boards are longer, much narrower and have a nose that is extremely pointy and a longer fin.

The race board is also designed so that you can remain on a track and cut through the surface of the water as quickly as possible. Something that you need to keep in mind about these types of boards is the fact that they aren’t very stable unless you are going forward at a faster speed. These boards are typically best for those who are advanced in this sport since they can take some time to get used to.

SUP Pilate and Yoga Boards

The SUP boards for yoga and Pilates are longer and wider than the wave boards. They will usually have a softer top and a place to attach some exercise tools, such as safety equipment and resistance bands. Also, most people who use these boards need a way to anchor it so that it doesn’t float away from the group while doing the exercises.

 

The best paddleboard for Yoga that we have found is the Naish MANA 9’10. This board features a wider than normal deck for all your poses and is versatile beyond just Yoga use.

Choosing the Right Size Board

After you have figured out what type of board that you want, the next step is to figure out the size that is right for you. You can think of the size of a board in terms of the volume. The thicker, longer and wider that a board is, the more volume that it is going to have. When a board has more volume, then it is going to be much more stable when it is on the water. If you are new to paddleboards, then you should select one that has more volume until you are used to the sport and at this point you can downsize.

Something to keep in mind is that the majority of larger boards are going to be much less responsive when you are in the water. This means that they aren’t going to turn as quickly or easily as the smaller wave boards available on the market. You have to select a board with the volume that is appropriate for your weight, height and your paddling style.

Buying Your Board

If you are ready to make a purchase and embark on your first attempt of paddle boarding, then it is a good idea to find a reputable seller to purchase your board from. This will ensure that you get a quality item that is going to last and offer you the performance and durability that you want and need.

Keep in mind, today, paddle boarding is an extremely popular sport. As a result, you should be able to find some great deals if you shop around. Don’t simply buy the first board you come across. Take some time to really find one that suits your needs and your skillset. Failing to do this may result in you being unable to get the hang of this fun but somewhat tricky sport.

As you can see from the information here, paddle boarding can be fun and exciting, but it does take some practice.