Paddle Boarding in San Diego

Discover why Mission Bay is the best location for paddle boarding in San Diego, California. The 27-mile shoreline offers paddle boarders a unique experience.
Paddle Boarding in San Diego
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Enjoy a day paddle boarding on the beautiful waters of San Diego

San Diego, California is often referred to as “America’s Finest City.” The area is widely known for its miles of white, sandy beaches and beautiful weather that averages between 60 and 75 degrees year-round. For those looking for a vacation with beautiful beach views and an abundance of activities, San Diego is the perfect location.

While there are various ways to enjoy San Diego’s beaches, paddle board surfing has become a popular activity for individuals looking to create a memorable experience. This exciting outdoor activity dates back to the 1960s when the Beach Boys of Waikiki decided to stand on their longboards to get a better view of the surf. It has evolved since then and boards can be found in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors.

The choices for paddle boards are limitless. Some are created for a specific purpose, such as being tailored more towards fishing. While other boards are more versatile and can be used for an array of purposes.

Lighter, more durable boards are more expensive than soft-top boards that are heavier. You can test out your board in the water before purchasing to make sure it’s the right choice. Plus, there’s always the option to rent paddle boards while at the beach.

Paddle boarding is the perfect combination between kayaking and surfing. However, paddle boarding doesn’t require waves and can be done in different bodies of water. Paddle boarders have the option to choose between standing, kneeling, or sitting on the board while using a paddle to propel themselves forward.

The paddle used is different from a canoe paddle and will have a bend near the blade. It should be anywhere from 4 to 7 inches taller than you. Lighter paddles are more convenient to use because they help reduce any hand fatigue or tiring that a heavier paddle can cause.

SUP, also known as stand-up paddle boarding, is the most popular form of paddle boarding. It is known for being a full-body workout that works your core, improves cardio, and challenges your balance and flexibility. Unlike running which can be hard on the body, SUP has practically no impact.

When and Where it’s best to Paddle Board

Because the activity is done on the water, many prefer to paddle board during warmer months in spring or summer. However, paddle board surfing can be done year-round!

When it comes where to paddle board, there’s a wide range of options regarding where the activity can be done. Oceans, lakes, and rivers are all popular spots for paddle board surfing and when you’re in San Diego, consider paddle boarding in Mission Bay.

Featured Activity

La Jolla: Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
La Jolla Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
Explore the Seven Sea Caves as you paddle board through La Jolla's Ecological Reserve! This 2-hour rental includes a lightweight paddle board, and the opportunity to see amazing marine life up close!
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The Best Places for Paddle Boarding in San Diego

Paddle boarding in San Diego offers a rare opportunity for visitors to tour the coast, get up close and personal with wildlife, and get in a great full-body workout. Not to mention it’s an absolute blast!

The options on where to go are truly endless. There are multiple areas throughout San Diego where visitors can launch their boards and start exploring. Visitors can set out to explore the open ocean, coastline, protected harbors, or freshwater lakes.

Popular paddle board surfing locations in San Diego include: Mission Bay, La Jolla, Coronado Island, Point Loma, Carlsbad Lagoon, and Oceanside Harbor. It’s not uncommon for paddle boarders to come across dolphins, seals, or even whales when venturing through these areas.

Mission Bay Has Some of the Best SUP

While there is an abundance of options, Mission Bay is a prime paddle boarding location. Mission Bay is located just minutes from Downtown San Diego and is a saltwater bay found south of Pacific Beach. The bay is part of Mission Bay Park, which is the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States.

Mission Bay Park is made up of over 4,235 acres of land and water. Mission Bay sits on 27 miles of shoreline and eight miles are designated as official swimming areas.

Paddle boarding in Mission Bay is truly a unique experience that will create memories to last a lifetime. The area is beautiful and the water is flat, making it ideal for a relaxing paddle board adventure. The Sail Bay portion of Mission Bay is perfect for a relaxing paddle boarding or even trying a yoga class on your paddle board.

Another benefit of paddle boarding in Mission Bay is that there is a variety of waterways, inlets, and islets where paddle boarders can launch from located throughout the area. The options are truly boundless and there is breathtaking scenery to last for days.

Getting to Mission Bay

Mission Bay is bordered to the east by the I-5 freeway and East Mission Bay Drive, to the west by Mission Blvd, to the north by Grand Avenue and to the south by West Mission Bay Drive and Sea World Drive. Ingraham Street runs north-south dead through the middle of the park via a series of islands and bridges.

Bonita Cove

Bonita Cove is adjacent to Belmont Park and is a popular paddle board location because it’s protected on three sides, making for generally calm water on windy days. During warmer months, people love paddle boarding to Bonita Cove, pulling their boards onto the sand, and taking a swim in the water.

Ventura Cove

Ventura Cove is located near the Belmont Park Amusement Park in Mission Beach. The water is calm which makes it a great place for beginners to try stand up paddle boarding.

Bahia Point

Bahia Point is a small peninsula that sticks out into Mission Bay and wraps around the Bahia Resort Hotel. The beach faces north and east toward Ventura Cove. Bahia Point is known to be less busy than Bonita Cove and Venture Cove.

Fiesta Island

If you want to take your dog on the adventure, Fiesta Island is the perfect paddle board destination. Fiesta Island is a large piece of land located within Mission Bay that is mostly designated as leash free for dogs. So, the entire family can enjoy the sandy beach and paddle board adventure!

Coronado Island (bonus pick)

If ocean surfing is your style, head to Coronado Island for the perfect waves, amazing views and a great opportunity to shred the surf. Located just 5 minutes over the Coronado Bridge from downtown, Coronado can be found just off the coast. Do be aware that this location can get crowded on weekends.

Popular Hotels Nearby
Popular Hotels
Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton
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Inn by the Sea, at La Jolla
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Paradise Point Resort & Spa
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San Diego Mission Bay Resort
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Where Can You Rent a Stand-Up Paddle Board

If you’re looking for a fun day with family and friends, paddle boarding is a great choice. There are multiple options when it comes to renting a paddle board for a day on the water.

Consider getting a Go San Diego Card in advance where you can save up to 55% on all your beach gear rentals like surfboard rentals, snorkel gear rentals, bike rentals and of course SUP rentals. Combine a day at the beach with many of the area’s other top attractions like a day at Belmont Park in Mission Beach or the world-famous San Diego Zoo located inside Balboa Park.

Paddle boarding can be done for recreation, fishing, yoga, working out, surfing, or just to explore the area. Your age and fitness level won’t hinder the experience -- everyone can give it a try! In fact, many visitors love the activity because it’s easy to grasp and gives them a unique opportunity to enjoy San Diego’s scenery.

Save on Paddle Boarding!
2-Hour Stand Up Paddleboard Rental
Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
Using your Go Pass, head out for a 2-Hour Stand Up Paddle board Rental. Paddle around Harbor Island and keep an eye out for dolphins and other local wildlife. No matter your skill level, you will enjoy a beautiful day out on the water.
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Local Tips
What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Tips for the Perfect Day of Paddle Boarding

Check the Weather in Advance

Calm days with calm waters are preferable for paddle boarding. Check the weather forecast before you head out as many paddle boarders, especially those new to the sport, will prefer calm water until they get the hang of it.

Local Tips
The Perfect Paddle
For placid waters, longer paddles are preferred. For rougher waters or surfing conditions, you're going to want a shorter paddle for quicker maneuverability.

The basics on How to SUP

  • Place one knee on each side of the board. Once you have stability, slowly bring one leg up to stand. Maintain balance by pressing your fingertips into the board. Repeat this for the other side and stand up slowly.
  • Use your paddle as a balancing stick when trying to stand.
  • The bent part of the paddle faces forward.
  • Always keep your gaze ahead instead of looking down. This will help you remain stable.
  • Keep your legs slightly bent.
  • Use your core to do the work instead of your arms.

Who is Paddle Boarding Good for?

For those travelling to one of San Diego’s beach towns, paddle boarding is the perfect outdoor choice that the entire family can enjoy. What better way to experience the sights around you and socialize than paddling around the water?

The sport is easy to get the hang of and good for individuals of all ages looking to spend an exciting and refreshing day on the Bay.

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Stay Nearby

Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton
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Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton
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Inn by the Sea, at La Jolla
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Inn by the Sea, at La Jolla
from $101 / night
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Paradise Point Resort & Spa
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Paradise Point Resort & Spa
from $190 / night
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San Diego Mission Bay Resort
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from $203 / night
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