The levels of adventure and opportunities to find new views in SoCal are truly endless. Even better than that? The Southern California stand up paddle board season runs for 365 days a year. Whether you’re looking for calm waters, overhead surf, or a close and personal experience with local marine life, the best places to go paddle boarding in Southern California are waiting. All over the SoCal region, there are plenty of opportunities to jump on a SUP and immerse yourself in nature and sunshine.
From first-time paddlers, all the way up to professional watermen and women, California offers something great for paddle boarders of every skill level. We kept every type of paddler in mind when we nailed down our favorite paddle board destinations, so no matter where you live or plan to visit, you’ll be able to launch your SUP in a place that suits your needs perfectly. Watch the video linked above for an up-close look at each of the locations we’ve pinpointed as SoCal’s best.
In the heart of Newport Beach, sits Balboa Island, a scenic island that provides the perfect space for calm paddling. Surrounding the .3 mile canal we’ve pinpointed, are historic, residential homes that make paddling all the more scenic, and even reminiscent of famous canals in Venice, without having to travel as far away. This location is great for beginner paddle boarders, or those seeking to integrate a leisurely paddle into their day.
Crystal Cove State Park
For those wanting more of an open-ocean paddle, Crystal Cove offers a little over 3 miles of shoreline to explore, and an underwater park that spans over 1,000 acres. Perfect for taking your paddle board out for some SUP snorkeling, or those wanting to get up close to scenic views of marine life, Crystal Cove State Park offers just that and more. As a note, Crystal Cove is a bit more rocky since there are a lot of morro bay cliffs. To get the full outdoor experience, feel free to take a hike before or after your paddle to get a full scope of all that Crystal Cove has to offer!
Fisherman’s Cove Beach
Located north of Laguna Beach is Fisherman’s Cove, an incredibly picturesque location and one of our favorite places to go paddle boarding in SoCal. Filled with an array of marine life and clear waters perfect for SUP snorkeling, this location is great for intermediate to advanced paddlers. Once past the surf break, paddlers will have a high probability of seeing kelp forests, exposed reef, and sometimes dolphins!
This all-inclusive location is perfect for every type of adventure and paddlers of all skill levels. For those seeking more of a recreational or calm paddle experience, Carlsbad Lagoon offers the perfect space for paddlers to circle the lagoon for 2-3 miles, or explore the inshore channels to enjoy all the views of nature surrounding the area. This is also a highly recommended location for families to paddle out together, including paddle boarding for kids. For the kiddos in your lives wanting their own paddle board, there’s something special coming soon (stay tuned)!
La Jolla Cove Marine Sanctuary
If you only have one day to paddle board in San Diego, you won’t regret spending it near the La Jolla Cove, where visibility underwater can reach 30 feet on the right day. The extensive kelp forest in this protected cove is home to a bevy of sea life including sea lions, bat rays, sea turtles, dolphins, a wide variety of fish, and leopard sharks that pose no danger to humans. Pay attention to the tide charts, as tide pools are revealed at deep low tides, but the water will become too shallow for your board. We recommend parking at La Jolla Shores and paddling south to the “7 Caves of La Jolla” just before you reach the Cove. For more experienced paddlers, we highly recommend the 3-mile round trip down to Scripps Pier and back.