About 10 years ago, most people had never heard of the sport of paddleboarding, but in fact its roots date back to the 1960s when surfers in Waikiki used paddles and longer boards to go further distances. Like surfing, it has roots tracing back to Polyenisia, but in 2008, celebrity surfer Laird Hamilton talked the sport up on "Good Morning America" and re-ignited the fire.
In the last ten years, paddleboarding emerged on lakes and waterways and has since taken on a life force of its own. The sport involves carefully distributing weight so as not to tip and using an elongated paddle to propel through the water. It has a very small learning curve and provides an excellent core workout. Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has been exploding across the nation and can be found in almost any body of water these days, but there are a few places across the U.S. that are prime for first-timers or experienced boarders, have surreal scenery and wildlife and where rental shops are in abundance.
Paddling at dusk in Hanalei Bay, Hawaii — Photo courtesy of Flashpacking Life
Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
Located on the North Shore of Kauai, the cresent-shaped Hanalei Bay is a little slice of heaven, and during the summer months the waters are calm - perfect for SUP. Boarders can paddle under the one-lane bridge that is considered the “gateway to Hanalei." Pack a picnic lunch and take a break on Black Pot Beach Park, or grab a bite in the small town of Hanalei. Hawaiian Surf Outfitters offers boarders one-hour lessons followed by two hours on the water.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale is often called "the Venice of the East," because of its winding Intercoastal waterway that empties out into the Atlantic Ocean. It's also at the heart of South Florida's paddleboarding craze. Within the Intercoastal, waters are calm and boaters have reduced speed limits allowing boarders to enjoy a relaxing paddle. Glide past the mansions that line the shores and don't be surprised when locals hanging out in their backyards chat you up about the sport. During the winter months, the waters are home to the Florida manatee, and paddleboarders can get an up close experience with the gentle giants. Sunrise Paddleboards launches near the beach, and Gold Coast Aquatic Adventures will pick you up wherever you may land so you can stop at one of the many waterfront restaurants and make a day of it.Paddleboarding in Ft. Lauderdale past yachts and mansions — Photo courtesy of Miranda Rose Borchardt
Lake Tahoe, CA
It's no surprise that in one of California's favorite outdoor playgrounds, Lake Tahoe, paddleboarding has caught on quickly with its active residents. Tourists can also experience the sport on the translucent lake, but the question remains which part is best? Kings Beach to Crystal Bay Point is a good place to start; it's a small enough area and there are plenty of rentals available. However, you won't find peace and serenity with mobs of visitors flooding the shoreline. Sand Harbor is known for the iconic, crystal-clear waters and makes for a dreamy paddle, while nearby Donner Lake offers several coves with the Union Pacific railroad as the backdrop. Stop by the visitors center for information on paddleboard outfitters in the area.