Like with many things in life, what’s considered the “perfect time to paddle board” all comes down to personal preference. Whenever you can safely get out on your SUP and enjoy the water with its beautiful surroundings, it sounds to us like the best time to paddle board.
Paddle boarding is a versatile activity that can be done in all seasons. It can be done at any time of the day, and in most weather conditions, which means you really can paddle board whenever suits you!
With that being said, there are certain times of the day and year that provide better paddling conditions than others. We’re here to go into detail and answer the question of “when is the best time to paddle board?”
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An amazing benefit of paddle boarding is that you can paddle all year round (providing you have the correct gear) and you aren’t limited to paddling in just one particular season.
Whether you prefer baking in the sun, or throwing on a wetsuit and paddling in serene waters with no one else around, every season has its pros and cons and we’re going to go into detail about each of them.
Most paddlers favor the summer months because the air and water temperatures are at their warmest. Typically, there is less wind and rainfall during the summer, leaving you with clear days and amazing water conditions.
A summertime paddle has increased daylight hours and in some states, you can get up to 16 hours of daylight every day, which is fantastic if you clock off work late and want to head out for a late evening paddle.
Summer paddling, however, does come with its downfalls too.
Crowds are at their busiest as kids enjoy their summer holiday breaks and flock to the waters hoping to cool off from the blaring sun. These larger crowds result in limited paddling space and a lesser chance of having a peaceful and relaxing paddle.
Taking proper sun protective measures is extremely important in the summer months and can ruin your day on the water and even endanger your health if not taken seriously.
We’ll go into more detail about this later, but the sun is at its hottest in the middle of the day, especially in summer. Adequate sun protection, like high factor SPF and UV protective clothing, are extremely important to protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Sunglasses are also extremely important bits of kit that not only keep you looking cool but protect your eyes from damaging UV rays. If you’re worried about your sunglasses falling in the water, check our guide to the Best Floating Sunglasses.
Dehydration and heat stroke are also more common in summer and are definitely things you want to avoid. Paddling during the middle of the day puts you at high risk of complications caused by the sun, which can occur without you even realizing it.
For more information about SUP clothing, check out our SUP Clothing: What to Wear blog post.
Stand up paddle boarding in the winter months is reserved for the brave, but it really does come with its plus points.
For more experienced paddlers who rarely, if ever, fall off their board, the water temperature isn’t a huge concern and there is nothing that a wetsuit and added layers can’t fix.
Few people will head out on the water during winter, so the chances of you paddling alone and not being disturbed by a single soul are relatively high. The fact the waterways will be a ghost town is one of the major reasons certain paddlers think winter is the best time of year to SUP.
Nature changes with the seasons and paddling in winter will provide you with a completely different backdrop to the summer, spring, or fall months. Mountains that were once just plain old rock, are now covered with a blanket of white snow.
Paddling in winter comes with more cons than just cold temperatures. The weather is a lot more unpredictable and there is an increased chance of strong winds and rain which could put a stop to your paddling plan.
We mentioned before that summer has increased risks of sun-related health concerns and although these risks are still possible in winter; they are a lot less likely to occur. No matter what time of year you’re paddling, SPF should always be worn to protect your skin from the sun, and staying hydrated throughout your paddle will help your body regulate its temperature.
The days are also considerably shorter in winter, and if paddling in the dark doesn’t appeal to you, the window of time to take your SUP out will be extremely limited.
The weather in spring and fall is unpredictable, and it really comes down to whether you’re paddling at the beginning or end of each season.
The start of spring will see paddling conditions similar to winter, but with slightly higher water and air temperatures, and the end of spring will be like paddling in summer, with slightly lower water and air temperatures.
The same goes with fall, the beginning of fall will be like paddling in summer, and the end will be like paddling in winter.
Both seasons are great times to take a SUP out because the waters won’t be busy, the temperature won’t be too hot or too cold, and the sun isn’t at its most damaging.
Now we’ve covered the seasons, let's get into the best time of day to go paddle boarding.
There is nothing quite like starting off your day with a fresh mind and relaxed body. Luckily for you, paddle boarding in the morning can provide just that!
Morning paddles are great for those who enjoy waking up early, beating the crowds, and possibly catching the sunrise. Meditating or practicing yoga are excellent ways to get in tune with your body and energize yourself for the day. More benefits about SUP yoga can be found in our article What Is Sup Yoga and Why You Should Be Doing It.
For all the SUP surfers out there, taking your board out in the morning is an awesome time to catch some waves without having to pull out and be mindful of other surfers.
We mentioned before that the sun is at its hottest between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, especially during the summer months. SPF is crucial no matter what time of year you’re paddling and extra measures need to be taken in the summer.
An added benefit of paddling in the day is that lifeguards are usually present at the beach during peak times of the year, which can be reassuring for new paddlers or young children.
Crowds tend to be busier during the midpoint of the day, so if you’d prefer the water to yourself, we recommend heading out in the morning or evening.
Having a paddle while the sun is setting is a relaxing experience that few other people will share with you. The crowds you experience in the daytime usually disperse come the evening and taking your SUP out past 6 pm will give you free rein of the water.
Night time paddles are great for people with busy schedules and can’t seem to find the time to fit a paddle into their day. Paddling at night is the ultimate stress reliever and while out on the water, you can empty your mind of all that has happened hours prior.
The vibes given off during a nighttime paddle are extremely unique and allow you to experience your favourite waterways from an entirely new perspective.
Tides are created by the gravitational pull from the moon and this gravitational force generates a tidal force, which then creates peaks in the water on the sides of the Earth that are the closest and farthest away from the moon.
High tides are when the peaks are present, and low tides are when the peaks are absent. High tides and low tides usually occur twice a day, but other factors can make the tides unpredictable.
Slack tides are the ideal time for new paddlers to hit the water. Slack tides occur an hour before and after the high and low tides and you’ll experience slow moving, flat water.
Paddle boarding during low or high tides ultimately depends on where you live and the terrain on your desired beach can affect the way the water enters and exits the shore. For example, if your beach is steep, the waves during high tide can crash onto the shore and make it extremely difficult to take your board out safely.
High tides can also hide rocks under the water that can cause an issue to you or your board should you paddle over them. With that being said, high tides require less walking out to the water, so you don’t have to carry your board over long stretches of land.
During the tides, when the water is increasing, and the tide is rising, it is also referred to as a flood tide or incoming tide.
Little wind and no swell can make low tide a fantastic time to paddle. The low tides bring shallow waters that span for long distances which are great for people learning the sport and who aren’t comfortable being in deep water.
Some low tides can also produce waves if the tide comes in and a swell is produced and experienced paddlers who like to ride a wave or two will find this time extremely enjoyable.
The tides during low tides are also referred to as an outgoing tide, ebbing tide, or falling tide, as the water’s depth is decreasing.
Mid tide occurs between the low and high tides. There is roughly a 6 hour window between the two and the mid tide lands in the middle.
The tides during this time are constantly changing and produce strong currents that’ll make balancing and paddling your board extremely difficult. It’s best to avoid paddling during these times.
Tides are fairly predictable, as we understand how the moon works and how it produces a certain tidal current.
The times we experience the tides will differ between each day, and it's advised to check the location you’re paddling in before heading out on the water. A quick google search of your desired location will give you the information you need to decide what time of day will be best for you to paddle in.
For beginner paddlers, the best time to paddle board is during slack tides. Slack tides provide great paddle boarding conditions with minimal water movement, making it easy to balance on the SUP.
Slack tides occur an hour before and after the high and low tides, when the current changes direction and ceases movement.
The best weather to be out on your paddle board is when the temperatures are between 70 - 80 degrees and there is little to no wind. Ideally, it is best to avoid days with forecast rain and thunderstorms as this can danger you while out on the water.
Paddle boarding is an extremely versatile sport that can be practiced at any point of the day. It is a personal preference which time of the day is best, as they all come with their pros and cons.
Some paddlers enjoy paddling in the morning, when the waters are quiet and they can focus on their meditation. Others prefer paddling in the day, when the sun is shining and there is more activity in the water. Night paddles are even possible, giving you the entire waterway to yourself and allowing you to experience the surrounding nature from a different perspective.
If you have a busy schedule or you simply want to experience something new, paddle boarding at night is a great option that will beat the crowds and most likely give you the entire waterway to yourself.
There are, however, a few extra safety precautions you need to take into consideration before heading out paddling at night.
When paddling at night, you’ll also need some additional gear that’ll keep you noticed and safe on the water.
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