new to paddle boarding

Feature image via Groupon

Within the last decade or so, paddle boarding has become a favorite activity among watersports enthusiasts. Although paddle boarding has a long history that reportedly dates back to ancient times, the paddle boarding that we are most familiar with today is stand up paddle boarding or SUP.

We will discuss some of the basics of SUP and give a few tips on paddle boarding so that you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable time on the water.

What Is Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

Before we start giving you tips for stand-up paddle boarding, let’s talk a bit about the unique and popular watersport. As we mentioned earlier, paddle boarding has a long history that is believed to date back to ancient times. The SUP we know today is reminiscent of a technique used in Hawaii in the 1940’s.

So, what exactly is stand up paddle boarding? It’s a lot how it sounds. Paddlers stand on a flat board (that looks a lot like a surfboard) and navigate a body of water by using a long paddle. Paddle boarding is popular on lakes, oceans, and rivers.

Some paddlers use the board for a relaxing cruise around a calm body of water or a surface to do yoga while others make paddle boarding competitive and will race. Like kayaking and even surfing, paddle boarding is versatile, and people of all ages can enjoy the water activity.

Before You Buy A Paddle Board

Some of the most important paddle board tips are in regard to the decisions you make before you purchase a paddle board. Much like a high-quality kayak, a good paddle board is a bit of investment, so you want to make sure you buy one that you’ll love and feel comfortable and confident while using.

It’s a good idea to make a checklist when you begin shopping around for a board. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when picking out a paddle board.

Picking Out The Right Type Of Paddle Board

Sometimes it would be easy if all paddle boards were the same. Paddle boarding is versatile, and there are different paddle boards for various SUP activities. When you’re shopping around for a stand up paddle board, it’s best to test one out if possible. An excellent way to test out a board is to contact a local outfitter or attend an event where people can try out some boards.

When selecting your board, you need to think about the hull, the weight capacity, whether or not you want solid or inflatable, and other specific dimensions. We will briefly discuss the differences, but you can be more in-depth details when you shop for a board in person.


What’s a hull? A hull is the body of the paddle board and is available as planing or displacement hull. A planing hull is flat, wide, and is an ideal design for most beginners because they are relatively easy to maneuver. Planing hulls are typically used for surfing, paddle board yoga, whitewater, or recreational paddling.

A board with a displacement hull has a similar pointed and narrow design like a kayak. It is also designed to move faster through the water and is ideal for racing or fitness paddling.

Size And Other Dimensions

Out of many of the valuable stand up paddle boarding tips, making sure to select the right paddle board size is an important tip to remember. When you’re looking at all of your options, you may get overwhelmed and assume that everything is more or less the same.

Like other watersports equipment, like kayaks, it’s crucial to think about weight capacity and how you will be using your board. If you plan on camping, you need to make sure you select a board that can safely and comfortably carry your body weight and the extra weight of your gear.

Inflatable Or Solid?

Before you discredit an inflatable paddle board as a viable option, you need to think (again) about how you’ll be using the board. If you travel a lot, an inflatable board may be a better option. It all comes down to personal preference and if you have the chance to test out both types, be sure to try them both.

You Bought A Paddle Board, What’s Next?

Once you pick out a paddle board, you may be ready to take it out on the water right away. If you want tips on paddle boarding, pay attention to this one: take a lesson. Yes, stand up paddle boarding is relatively easy to learn, and it’s an activity that pretty much anyone can enjoy, but if you take a lesson or two, you’ll be a stronger, safer, and more confident paddler.

What to do after you buy a ripple board

Image via Ripple Boards

What You Can Learn From A Lesson

Depending on how many lessons you take and where you take them, you can learn a lot of paddle boarding tips and some valuable (even lifesaving) information. Most importantly, you should learn how to properly stand on a paddle board and learn some basic strokes.

It’s best to take a class from a certified instructor to ensure that you get as much accurate and helpful information as possible. Don’t feel like you learned everything you should have before going out on the water? Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

You’ve purchased your paddle board and your paddle, but before you go on the water, you need to make sure you have all the right gear. A personal floatation device (PFD), like a life jacket, is always a good idea even if you have strong swimming skills.

If you fall off your board and into deep or turbulent water, a PFD can help you reserve your energy and keep you afloat. Some people will also invest in a quick-release leash that attaches to their ankle (similar to what we see on surfboards).

A safety whistle and a light (such as a headlamp) is essential gear to have, especially if you’re going out on the water after dark. Headlamps are small enough that you can stash them in a dry sack and you can attach your whistle to your PFD, so you have it nearby.

Depending on where you’re paddle boarding and what the weather is like (including the water temperature) you may want to wear a wetsuit or other gear to keep you from getting too cold. Keep in mind that while the air temperature may feel warm and pleasant, the water temperature may be dangerously cold.

Not only is it important to wear the right type of clothing, wearing a helmet is always a good idea if you’re paddling on a river and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Safety Tips To Consider

Like you would with any watercraft, it’s important to think about stand up paddle board tips for safety. Here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Watch for other paddlers and swimmers
  • Go paddling with others
  • Know the “rules” of the water
  • Navigate safely around boats and other watercraft
  • Know your limits
  • Watch the weather
  • Practice in calm and familiar water

Things To Remember On Your First Paddle Boarding Adventure

While there are many tips on paddle boarding to keep in mind, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed or even hesitant to have a good time. After you’ve taken a few lessons and have all the right gear, it’s time to head out and put your paddle board to the test.

Even if you’re looking forward to riding the waves or checking out some fast currents, it’s best to start out on a calm body of water. An ideal spot would be a small lake or pond that doesn’t have too much boat traffic.

You should learn how to navigate around and share the water with boaters and other obstacles, but save that for another time. Start out easy and work up to bigger challenges.

Get in the habit of paddling with a friend. You don’t have to paddle side by side but stay within sight or earshot of one another so you can lend a helping hand if an emergency arises.

Take your time and think about all the things you learned during your lessons. Avoid pushing yourself too much or going too far from the shoreline because if you use up all of your energy, you may have a hard time getting back to shore. Use common sense and try not to overthink your technique, just focus on what you know and enjoy your time on the water.