Paddling California: The Absolute Best Locations for Your Next SUP Adventure

Paddling California is a great way to see the state and its many beautiful landscapes in a new and exciting way. But with so many great stand up paddle board locations to choose from, picking the perfect one can be tough. That’s why we’re bringing you a few of the best spots to help you decide. Keep reading to learn more.



While some of the best places in California for paddle boarding are in and around San Diego, La Jolla Cove still stands out as a top spot.

That’s because it offers a little of everything you might be looking for.

There’s crystal clear water, teeming with fish, leopard sharks, and ray. There are sweeping views of the cliffs, covered in sea lions and seals. You’ll also have a view of the many beautiful homes perched high above the water.

Plus, there’s plenty of free parking near the water for you to drop your car and get your gear to the beach.


Catalina Island is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in California. It’s also an excellent spot to break out your paddle board.

While you’ll have to catch a ferry to Catalina Island, once there, there are numerous spots where you can launch your board right from the beach.

Paddle along the coast of this 22-mile long archipelago and you’ll enjoy clear blue waters and picturesque beaches. Avalon is a great spot to start your SUP adventure.


If you’re looking for something a little urbaner than La Jolla Cove or Catalina Island, San Diego Bay might be just the place.

Here, you can paddle right up to the USS Midway, a now-retired aircraft carrier. You’ll also get a great view of downtown San Diego and the massive Coronado Bridge.

There is a lot of boat traffic in the bay, as well as plenty of obstacles to avoid. This trip should only be taken by experienced paddle boarders or beginner paddlers following a guide. It’s also a good idea to start early in the day when there will be less traffic crossing the bay and therefore less wake.


In Southern California, paddle boarding is a year-round activity.

One of the top spots in California to paddle during the holidays is Balboa Island.

At Christmas, the island is covered in millions of tiny lights and is also home to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. The entire perimeter of the island is only 2.75 miles, making it a perfect paddling trip.

If you plan to head out to paddle at night, be sure to prepare. You’ll need to wear brightly colored clothing and add lights to your board to make sure that other boat traffic can see you.


Among the top spots for paddle boarding in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps the most popular.

There are few sites in the state more breathtaking than looking up at the bridge from the water.

New paddlers beware. The water beneath the bridge can be choppy and packed with other boaters on bright summer days. The water sees enough wave activity to make it a popular surfing destination.


Now that you’ve narrowed your search for the perfect spot for your paddling California adventure, it’s time to make sure you’ve got the right gear.

Click here for a list of some of the essential accessories you’ll want to bring along on your next paddling trip.