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Beginner's Guide To Stand Up Paddleboarding

by Kelly Vance on June 16, 2016

With the exploding popularity of Stand Up Paddleboarding comes a lot of confusion for people who are new to the sport.  So we're bringing you a basic beginner's guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding, with everything you need to know, from the different disciplines to the basics of how to select the right board to try or buy.  Once you're ready to make a purchase, be sure you check out our technical buyers guide as well!

Beginner's Guide To Stand Up Paddleboarding - What You Need To Know

Beginner's Guide to Paddleboarding

Ambassador Brianna Smith paddling with friends

Ambassador Alina Myers helped us break down the many uses for paddleboards: 

Paddleboarding is a great activity for anyone and I highly encourage SUP! I have owned an 11’-2’’ Riviera monofin paddleboard for many years now and use it for numerous activities. When people think about paddleboarding, they usually think about taking it out on flat water and just using it to paddle around, but there are many other uses. I use my paddleboard on flat water, the ocean, for yoga, and even fishing!

Beginner's Guide To Stand Up Paddleboarding

Fitness & Yoga on a Stand Up Paddleboard

On flat water, SUP is great to use for strength training! You can stand up and use a paddle or balance on your knees and use both hands in a pivoting motion, which is great for upper body strength.  You'll feel it in your arms, core muscles, and legs. For those who love yoga, SUP can be a relaxing way to perform yoga but can also be tricky due to balance, waves, etc.


Pau Hana Lotus Yoga SUP

This beautiful board is designed with yoga in mind, with a full-sized yoga mat and lots of attachments for gear and other boards. 

Hala Atcha SUP Yoga

 The soft deck of an inflatable is perfect for yoga beginners - falls won't hurt and those poses will be better than ever. 


If yoga is your priority, there are paddleboards made just for you - although they may not track as well in the water, they're stable in all directions, and have a full-sized yoga mat on the deck. 

Fishing on a Stand Up Paddleboard

A favorite activity of mine involving SUP is fishing. This can be performed on flat water or in the ocean! I have caught most of my fish this way, even sharks (so be very careful!!!!).

Sightseeing & Fun

A great thing about taking a SUP on the ocean is observing and spotting all the different marine life up close. I have seen dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, seals, manta rays, stingrays, and so much more just from being out on
the water with my SUP.

BIC SUP Air Allround Inflatable SUP

For those interested in casual fun and sightseeing, an inflatable might be a good option.  It's easy to transport and easy to store!

Surfing on a SUP

Guess what?! If you like surfing, you can definitely use an SUP as a longboard. Some people prefer to use a SUP so they don’t have to use so much energy as you do paddling on a regular surfboard.  It's great for people who worry about jumping to catch a wave - you can use the SUP paddle to push you off on a wave and you can stand the entire time. I often use my SUP for tandem surfing. This is when you partner surf with one another and catch a wave together on the same board. Tandem surfers often perform acrobatic tricks such as lifts, and a wide, stable paddleboard is perfect for this. 

Surftech Roxy SUP

Lightweight and fun, perfect for smaller riders, this paddleboard can tackle calm waters or small to medium sized waves. 

SUP is very easy to pick up, but can offer a lifetime of learning and progression.  I would recommend starting in a safe area on some flat water and trying different techniques that make you feel comfortable! There is no set way to master a SUP; it is all dependent upon the person (you have to feel your board and become one with your board).  I prefer a long hollow fiberglass SUP that has one fin/ monofin - my favorite brand is Riviera.  However, a SUP does not have to come from a specific company and you don't need to spend a ton of money to enjoy stand up paddleboarding.

Guide To Gear for Beginner SUP

Check back next week for Part 2 of this series, where we will explore different construction techniques, including inexpensive options for first time paddlers!

Other Essential Gear


SheShreds Camo Boardshorts

The perfect shorts for a day out on the lake.

Outdoor Research Dry Sack

Keep your gear dry through all of your spills. 


Peach and Black Trucker Snapback

Protect yourself from the sun with a stylish hat. 

Futures Performance Fin

Upgrade your board's tracking with a styley new fin. 

Phone Dry Case with Headphone Jack

Keep your phone dry, and hook it to your paddleboard - you'll still be able to use it with this case!

Surftech Coil Leash

Don't lose your paddleboard in the waves or rough water with this leash!


Hurley One and Only Rashguard Sun Cover

Sun protection and style for your days on the water. 

Billabong Salty Daze Spring Wetsuit

Stay warm on cooler days with a super cute wetsuit. 

BIC SUP Performer Adjustable Paddle

Paddle smoothly with this lightweight carbon-reinforced paddle. 


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