Beautiful coastlines, pristine beaches, and serene bays make San Diego an ideal aquatic destination. Locals and visitors can distance themselves from the shore while enjoying a range of water activities. One of the most popular is stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), a fad that’s become a San Diego lifestyle. It’s a fun way to play on the water while soaking in the SoCal vibe and perfect for all skill levels. And with an abundance of paddle board rental shops, all you need to bring is sunscreen and a smile.
From SUP yoga to SUP fishing and SUPing with your pup, here are seven places to paddle board in San Diego.
Mission Bay is an aquatic wonderland lined with 19 miles of sandy beaches, waterways, inlets and islets. This man-made saltwater bay, the largest in the nation, is San Diego’s prime destination for paddle boarding. Calm waters, low wind and lots of water sport rental options make it ideal for beginners. A popular area is Bonita Cove, a beautiful waterfront park with parking and picnic tables. You can do SUP yoga, SUP fishing and even spot a SUP wedding in the distance. If you don’t have your own paddle board, rent or buy one own at Aqua Adventures. For families, the bay by the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is a great location. Action Sports Rental has you covered with SUP equipment, lifejackets, and other fun family-friendly equipment.
La Jolla Shores
The Jewel of San Diego is home to La Jolla Shores, a mile-long sandy crescent favorited by active beachgoers. Views of majestic cliffs and a rich ecological reserve make this one of the most scenic San Diego beaches for SUPing. After getting past the break, expect to see seals, birds and sea turtles. Experts can venture inside the sea caves that line the shore. If you are a fishing aficionado, bring your rod and bait, since this is a good spot for SUP fishing. Up the street, Avenida De La Playa shows off the SoCal vibe with beach shops, boutiques and restaurants. Here, you’ll find sports rental shops like Surf Diva and Everyday California and delicious food at Galaxy Tacos.
Liberty Station in the Point Loma neighborhood is a former Naval Training Center with a buzzing culinary and art scene. You can spend the day dining, exploring art galleries, biking, or paddle boarding the San Diego Bay. But don’t be surprised if you see dogs joining in the fun. The SUP Connection offers a one-hour class with pups. Sessions includes human and dog vests and a tour under the North Harbor Bridge near the Navy Dolphin Training Facility. Afterward, relax with a cold beer at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens or grab a meal at Liberty Public Market.
Across from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island is a destination within a destination. Its resort-town atmosphere, sparkling sand and striking beaches are part of its charm. “The Crown City” also features countless areas for outdoor and water activities. For remarkable views of San Diego’s skyline, paddle boarders prefer Tidelands Park. This small beach with recreational fields offers the unique opportunity to glide under the iconic Coronado Bridge. To strengthen your core, head to Coronado’s Ferry Landing and book a SUP yoga class at Bike & Kayak Tours. Afterward, take a stroll and enjoy of the diverse waterfront dining and shopping options. Or make it a beach day at Silver Strand State Beach, a 7-mile beach favorited by campers. The nearby Lowes Coronado Bay Resort has you covered with paddle board rentals.
Carlsbad Lagoon/Agua Hedionda Lagoon
If you drive along the I-5 freeway near Carlsbad, you might notice a large coastal wetland. This series of lagoons just off the road is perfect for recreational water activities. The easy access and friendly parking make the lagoons even more attractive. Agua Hedionda Lagoon delivers a quiet atmosphere. The 400-acre lagoon is an important ecosystem blessed with rich flora and fauna. Take in nature’s beauty while catching a sunset SUP yoga class with Floating Yogis. Make a day of it and rent a deck or private lounging area.
With a notable surf culture, wide beaches and a historic wooden pier, Oceanside embodies the classic California beach town. This hidden gem is a must-stop for road trippers driving down from Los Angeles to San Diego. Along the coastline, you’ll find a colorful New England-style harbor with a marina, restaurants and a shopping villa. The Oceanside Harbor offers many locations to launch your board as well as water sport rental shops. The inner harbor’s calm water is ideal for beginners who prefer to glide among seals and sailboats. Experienced paddle boarders looking for waves and wind tend to paddle from the outer jetty. From December through April, whales swimming down to Baja can be spotted from your SUP. A unique experience to add to your bucket list.
30 miles north of downtown San Diego, Lake Hodges offers a change of scenery. With 27 miles of shoreline, this reservoir is great for picnics, fishing and canoeing. In February 2019, the city began allowing stand-up paddle boarding as well. A $7 permit allows you to row on the calm waters while enjoying mountain views. You can paddle board between March and October on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. There’s a small rental shop on site, but it’s recommended to bring your own equipment.