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December 06, 2021 9 min read

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Activities

There is more to stand up paddle boarding than just standing on a board and paddling around water. The possibilities and activities that you can do on a SUP are endless, and you’ll be sure to find something that interests you and your entire family. 

Over recent years, paddle boarding has increased in popularity and the sport is now being practiced all over the world. Paddle boards, especially inflatables, can be transported to remote locations and allow you to explore waters that larger boats can not. 

One of the main benefits of SUPing is that you can paddle on any type of water as long as you have permission to do so. Lakes, rivers, and oceans have different paddling conditions and require different skill levels to paddle on. But, if you’re bored of just paddling around, what else is there to do on a SUP?

Regardless of the type of board you prefer and your waterway of choice, we’ve listed the top 14 things to do on a stand up paddle board that will keep you busy and provide you with hours of fun. 

Surfing

One of the most thrilling activities on the list is SUP surfing

Waves that are too small for regular surfboards are perfect for both hard SUPs and inflatables because of their increased length. However, if you're heading out surfing and looking for optimal maneuverability and performance, a traditional rigid board will work best. 

Surfing on a SUP is a great free workout and can test even the most experienced paddlers. It goes without saying that waves, even if they are small, provide more of a challenge for SUPing than flat calm waters found in lakes or rivers.  

Beginner paddlers should practice paddling on flat water before attempting to SUP surf. If you’re new to SUP surfing, it’s better to avoid the big waves and start small until you’ve got the hang of it. 

Fishing and Crabbing

Fishing activities using GILI inflatable paddle board

SUP fishing has gained traction in the angling community because of how easy paddle boards are to fish from. 

Paddle boards are non-motorized, less obstructive, and ultimately better for the environment. When out fishing on a board, you have a top-down view of the water, making it easier to find and catch fish. 

SUPs also give you the ability to glide over the water, reducing the amount of noise and water movement that could potentially scare away your catch. 

Although you can fish from any type of paddle board, you can purchase boards specially designed for SUP fishing. These boards have a higher weight capacity for additional gear and add-on accessories which help make catching fish a breeze. 

Similar to fishing, a paddle board is a great place to catch crabs from. Whether you prefer tossing out crab pots and returning to them after a paddle around the water, or casting a line and waiting for a bite, crabbing is a fun activity to do solo or with young children. 

Whitewater

Whitewater activities using inflatable paddle board

Another SUP activity for the thrill-seekers out there is whitewater paddling. 

It mixes together all the fun parts of surfing, rafting, and kayaking, and gives you an entirely different experience than just paddling on flat water. 

When you go whitewater paddling, you need to adapt your paddling techniques because of the flowing water and currents that you don’t encounter on your average lakes or rivers.

Being completely confident on your board is the first step to whitewater paddling, as it will help you change your paddling style and tackle different levels of whitewater with ease. 

It is important to note that whitewater paddling should only be done by experienced paddlers and can be extremely dangerous.

Yoga

Man and woman doing a yoga pose on a GILI paddle board

There is nothing more tranquil than being out in the open in the middle of a quiet lake or river. Add the occasional chirping bird or the sound of water ripples from passing fish, and you’ve got yourself the perfect location to practice yoga.

Inflatable SUP boards tend to be the top choice for SUP yoga because of their spacious, squishy deck that helps with balance and overall comfort when trying to hold a pose. 

Adding water to the mix means you need to focus extra hard on your coordination, strength, and body awareness while performing your yoga poses. One wrong move and you could end up in the water (which is not necessarily a bad thing on a hot summer's day).

If you’re an experienced yogi or just looking for a new low impact, high-intensity workout, SUP yoga could be just the challenge for you. 

Racing

GILI inflatable paddle board lined up on the sea

This one is for those who have a competitive streak in them. SUP races are held annually all over the world, and they not only provide a day of fun but also test your paddling skills amongst other experienced paddlers.

Competing in these races is a great way to connect with other like-minded people in the SUP community, and you could even learn a new thing or two about the sport. 

Long, narrower boards are the ideal candidate for SUP racing as they cut quickly and smoothly through the water, giving you optimal maneuverability and speed.

If serious competitive SUP racing isn’t your thing, try having a race with friends or family members at your local lake or river. Getting kids involved in the race will be a sure-fire way to get them excited and interested in SUPing. 

Touring

Man paddle boarding on a river using GILI SUP

SUP touring is an amazing way to explore large bodies of water, all while getting a decent workout in. 

If there is a specific lake or river you want to explore? Planning and preparation for a day-long or even weekend-long tour can be highly beneficial, as it gives you plenty of time to take in the surroundings and enjoy everything the waterway has to offer. 

SUP touring requires more preparation than an average paddle trip, and you’ll need to think about packing supplies, such as water and snacks. If you’re planning a weekend-long trip, camping supplies, food, and additional clothing would need to be packed and paddled onboard with you. 

People who regularly like to commit to SUP tours find having a wider board is ideal because it can float more weight and can carry extra essential gear. 

Snorkeling and Diving

Woman diving underwater

A SUP is great for snorkeling trips because it is essentially a large floating platform to rest on when you need a break from swimming and exploring. 

SUP’s are small and can get into secluded areas that can’t be accessed by other boats. If you take a SUP with you on a snorkeling trip, it gives you the ability to paddle down uncharted coastlines and take in the undisturbed and abundant marine life.

Snorkeling on a SUP is also great for little kids as they can hold on to the board and avoid swimming for lengthy periods of time.

Much like snorkeling, diving from SUPs has become increasingly popular because of how easy they are to take out and dive from. Larger boards provide a higher weight capacity, meaning you can carry essential dive gear and head to remote and untouched areas. 

Exercise

Woman paddle boarding on a body of water using GILI SUP

Not only is SUPing a great way to get out and about in nature, but it’s also a fantastic workout that uses all of your muscles. 

Your body uses a lot of energy to balance and paddle through the water, and you end up doing exercise without even realizing it! 

If you’re up for a challenging workout, try doing the equivalent of sprint intervals on a SUP. Paddle as fast as you can for a certain amount of time, then add a slow-paced break and repeat until you can’t paddle anymore. We guarantee your body will ache the next day!

Take your kids

Dad on board with kids on a large GILI Manta SUP

Any excuse to get the kids outdoors and enjoying the fresh air is a good one. 

Whether your children are confident enough to ride their own board, or if they perch on the front of yours, taking your kids out paddling with you allows you to spend quality time together that isn’t disrupted by technology. 

As mentioned before, SUP racing can be fun for the whole family, and kids will be sure to have fun while doing so! Playing games of I-spy, tag, or trying to push one another off of their board are great ways to keep kids entertained, happy, and exercised. 

Take your dog

Man and a woman with their dog on a GILI sup

Have you ever tried taking your furry friend out paddling with you? 

Not all dogs will enjoy being on a paddle board, but perching your water-loving pup at the nose of your board is an awesome bonding experience that gets you both out exploring nature from a different viewpoint than your average walking trail. 

Photography

Man taking a photo while on a GILI sup

You don’t need to be an incredible photographer to get some great shots of nature.

Smartphones alone have high-quality cameras that you can easily take on board and use to capture amazing photos of the wildlife and water surroundings.

If you have a passion for photography, paddling on a SUP can help you reach secluded places and capture things that are tucked away and inaccessible to the general public. 

Meditation

Woman doing a yoga on her GILI sup

Meditation on a paddle board is similar to yoga, just without the exercise. Being out on the open water, with the calming sounds of nature around you, and taking the time to truly relax and destress is great for your mental health and overall happiness. 

If you want to meditate on your board, it is best to find a quiet or secluded pond or lake where the water is flat and calm. 

SUP anchors, like the GILI Folding Grapnel, are also a great way to keep your board in one place so you can focus all your energy on your meditation and not have to worry about floating away.  

Picnic

Man and a woman eating food on a GILI Mako sup

Are you looking for a unique date idea or a way to entertain the kids and family? Then look no further! 

SUP picnics are an affordable and fun way to enjoy a quiet romantic meal with your partner. 

If you’re taking the little ones out, your kids will have something to tell their friends about because it is unlikely that anyone else they know has had a picnic on a SUP.

Sunbathing

woman sunbathing on her GILI sup

Sunbathing on the beach means dealing with sand sticking to you every time you move. Sunbathing at home in the yard means not having access to water to cool off in. Sunbathing on a SUP, however, gives you the best of both worlds.

An inflatable SUP is best for SUP sunbathing because of its squishy and comfortable deck. If you get too hot while out on your board, you can simply jump in the water next to you to cool off.

It’s important to remember that UV rays can bounce off water and increase UV exposure. It’s extremely important to limit the amount of time spent sunbathing and to wear SPF at all times while out on SUP.

FAQ’S

🏆 What can you do on a stand up paddle board?

The great thing about SUPs is that the activities you can do on them are plentiful. 

If you’re looking for some thrilling activities to do on your SUP, surfing, whitewater, and taking part in races are great ways to test your paddling skills and abilities. 

The little ones will love snorkeling, picnics, fishing, touring, and taking the family dog out on the SUP with you. 

If you need some “me” time, SUP yoga, photography, a workout, meditation, and sunbathing are amazing ways to destress and connect with your inner self. 


👍 What is fun about Stand Up Paddle boarding?

Stand up paddle boarding is fun for people of all ages because not only does it get you out and about in the great outdoors, but it also is a great fitness tool. 

SUPs provide you with a free full-body workout that you wouldn’t be able to get at a gym, and the best part is, you don’t even realize you’re exercising! 

Being on a SUP gives you access to parts of water that other boats can’t explore, therefore, giving you the best viewpoints of marine life and water surroundings. 

Paddle boarding can be enjoyed by the whole family and whether you’re into fishing, riding waves, or just general adventure, there is something for everyone onboard a SUP. 


🏝️ What are the four golden rules of getting on your SUP?

If you’re having trouble getting onboard your SUP, try these 4 simple rules.

  1. Place your board in calm, shallow waters
  2. Place one leg over your board, sit down, and straddle it
  3. Slowly bring your legs up into the center of the board and form a kneeling position
  4. From there, gently bring yourself up into a standing position

If you’re heading out on your SUP adventure with a friend, you can also get them to hold your board steady while you perform those 4 moves. 


❓ What are 3 important paddle boarding tips?

3 of the most important paddle boarding tips are to-

  1. Know how to swim
  2. Always wear a PFD (personal flotation device) 
  3. If you’re going to fall, try to fall sideways to prevent injury.
Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant


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