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Best Places to Stand Up Paddle Board on the East Coast

   April 2nd, 2019   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

Best Places to Stand Up Paddle Board on the East Coast

best places to stand up paddle board

Paddling in Washington, D.C.

No matter what type of stand up paddling you prefer – flatwater and touring, ocean surfing, racing, or whitewater – SUP continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world. There’s something for everyone and so many beautiful places to explore. Of course, you’ll want to do your research in advance – local laws and regulations, but also water temperatures and weather patterns that will impact how you prepare and what you wear for your next SUP adventure.

When it’s all systems go, here are five of the best places to paddle board places along the East Coast that you’ll want to explore.

Washington, DC

The Nation’s Capital and the greater DMV area has a surprising amount to offer for paddle boarders. The section of the Potomac River in DC and just to the north has both tidal flatwater and class I, II and III rapids, making it one of the best places to stand up paddle board. Just 15 miles from the White House, you can paddle down the whitewater rapids of Mather Gorge and river surf the waves between the Gorge’s towering cliffs. Throughout the year you can find some of the world’s best whitewater paddlers shredding these waters.

Running alongside the Potomac is the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which offers sections of flatwater where you can view some amazing wildlife (think bald eagles, osprey, turtles, and more!).

There’s also something pretty amazing about paddling the tidal Potomac with the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop. With so many diverse places to paddle board, this is definitely a place to explore. Most paddlers stick to SUPing in the warmer months, but with a quality drysuit, you can find opportunities to paddle all year through.

Mount Desert Island, Maine

Mount Desert Island is the second largest island on the eastern seaboard. It’s home to Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor. This area offers stunning mountain backdrops and rugged rocky coasts for an ocean SUP trip and more sheltered paddling in the beautiful lakes of Acadia.

Note, the sea water temperatures in Bar Harbor vary from the low 50s in June to the low 60s in July and August. Even in the summer, it’s wise to be prepared with a quality wetsuit or some combination of neoprene pants, rash guard, and neoprene vest.

Delaware Seashore State Park, Delaware

best places to stand up paddle board

Paddling in Delaware.

Located near Dewey Beach, the Delaware Seashore State Park has the Atlantic Ocean to its east and Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay to its west. Millions of visitors flock to its beaches, but there are plenty of places to paddle board as well, with launch sites scattered to the west of Route 1 in the shallow waters of the bays.

It’s critical to track tides and wind before paddling, and you should always avoid the strong tidal currents in the Indian River Inlet. But, stick to the marsh areas and you could be rewarded with dolphin and otter sightings!

Key West, Florida

Key West, part of the Florida Keys, is the southernmost city in the U.S. With a climate closer to that of the Caribbean than the rest of Florida and clear, blue-green waters, it’s one of the best places to stand up paddle board. Just don’t forget your sun shirt to help protect your skin from the bright, harsh rays.

The island is about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide and there’s an annual 12-mile SUP race that circumnavigates it. If racing isn’t your thing, you can still paddle out from the beaches since most are manmade and there’s no natural surf there. Even more unique are the winding mangrove creeks, which are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The water is very shallow, calm, and clear and gives you an opportunity to view the geological structure of the Keys and see its diverse marine life.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

The town of Wrightsville consists of 4 miles of beaches on an interior island called Harbor Island. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean and to the west is the Intracoastal Waterway. Wrightsville Beach is home to one of the biggest SUP races in the U.S., the Carolina Cup, a 5-day festival with races, expos, and clinics with professional SUP athletes.

In just one day you can catch the sunrise over the ocean during a dawn patrol SUP surf session and close out your day watching it set over the Intracoastal for a flatwater tour of the island. There are year-round opportunities to paddle board here. In the winter, just be prepared for colder water temperatures by finding the right wetsuit for you.

Meredith was hooked on standup paddle boarding from the first time she held a paddle in her hands. She became an American Canoe Association L2 certified SUP instructor after taking classes for one summer in her home waters of the Potomac River. Meredith found a way to be on the water as much as possible by becoming an instructor with Potomac Paddlesports. She teaches flat water and race training classes and is regular SUP racer in the mid-Atlantic region. Meredith's close proximity to both the Potomac River and the Atlantic coast gives her ample opportunity to hone her river and ocean surfing skills. In her life off of the water, Meredith has lived in West and Central Africa and is a human rights advocate.

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