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San Diego isn’t just for sunbathing and surfing. This city is also a paddle boarding hotspot - and for good reason. Its calm waters are inviting to any paddler, and its booming SUP yoga scene grows more vibrant every day. With laid back locals and shorts weather year-round, you just might never want to leave. Below are some of our favorite spots for paddle boarding in San Diego.
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Photo Credit: Kusi News
If you want to dive right into the center of the action, Mission Bay should be your first stop for San Diego paddle boarding. SUP in Mission Bay is the picture-perfect SoCal experience. The bay is just 10 minutes away from downtown San Diego and 15 minutes from the airport, so it’s a convenient spot to dip your toes into the city’s SUP scene.
This massive man-made saltwater bay is an ideal spot for everything from SUP fishing to SUP yoga to SUP touring. You’ll find calm waters, minimal wind, and plenty of spots to launch your board. With a wide open blue sky and stunning waterfront homes, it’s about as scenic as SUP can get. If you’re in the mood to explore, paddle to Santa Barbara Cove - a peaceful stretch of water overlooked by the charming Bahia Hotel.
Mission Bay gets crowded, so you’ll want to start your day there early. You can rent a board at Bliss Paddle Yoga or the Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
Thanks to its canine-friendly atmosphere, Del Mar Beach is also known as Dog Beach. This shoreline has been a pet parent’s dream come true since way back in the 1950s. It’s one of the only San Diego beaches to allow dogs, so grab your pup for a day out on the waves.
Del Mar Beach offers the best of both worlds: calm waters anda fast-moving river mouth. Flatwater paddlers and beginners can soak in the sun and fresh air on smooth waters. SUP surfers can catch waves at the river mouth. It’s a win-win. If you don’t have your own SUP with you, head to Del Mar Surf Rentals to get yourself a board for the day.
Ditch the crowds for an afternoon at Agua Hedionda Lagoon, where you’ll find a quiet atmosphere and very few other people. If you’re in need of a mental vacation, this three-mile wetland will definitely deliver. You’ll be invited in by slow-moving flat waters, and you can take in the lagoon’s natural beauty while you paddle. If you need a board, you can grab a rental at Aloha Stand Up Paddle. If you want to take your zen to the next level, join in on one of Floating Yogis’ daily SUP yoga classes at the lagoon.
If you could paint a postcard-perfect picture in your mind of San Diego, La Jolla Cove would fit the bill. (Seriously, this place looks like one of the stars of The OCis going to step onto the shore at any moment.) This cliff-framed spot is a protected ecological reserve, so you’ll share the cove with sea turtles, sea lions, jellyfish, bat rays, and other marine creatures of all stripes. This is definitely an adventure you’ll want to bring your camera for.
If you’re a more advanced paddler, make your way through the cove’s famous caves. Beginner paddlers can follow the Cove’s calm kayaking routes for a less challenging experience. Rent yourself a SUP from Surf Diva, and take our word for it: La Jolla Cove is a little slice of heaven. It’s the kind of stand up paddle boarding San Diego locals usually only daydream about.
The island of Coronado is tucked just beyond San Diego’s coast, which means it’s the perfect spot to paddle through the heart of the city. You’ll take in larger-than-life views of the skyline, the baseball stadium, and the famous Hotel del Coronado as you pass the Coronado Bridge.
It’s just a 5-minute drive from downtown San Diego, and a great spot for group or family paddling outings. Bring your kids and your BFFs! If you need a board, stop by San Diego Bay Adventures to grab a rental SUP. The waters here are calm, so it’s great for all around SUP at any experience level. It can get very crowded here on weekends and holidays, so plan accordingly!
Shelter Island’s smooth waters are ideal for beginning paddle boarders who are practicing their technique. Its prime location between the city and the ocean makes it a dream come true for breathtaking, diverse views. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer a cityscape or an endless ocean horizon, because you can gaze at both from here. Try to catch the sunrise or sunset from the beach just before or after your SUP session. You (and your camera) won’t regret it. If you don’t have your own SUP, you can rent one from OEX Point Loma.
Photo Credit: First Team Real Estate
Lake San Marcos is a true hidden gem of the San Diego paddle boarding scene, and the only lake in the county to allow stand up paddle boarding. This serene spot is rarely crowded, and boasts of delightfully calm waters. If you don’t have a SUP, you can rent one at LSM Marina. When you’re finished on the water, have a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants along the shore.
Photo Credit: Visit Oceanside
Ocean waves and rough wind swells in the outer jetty make this spot best for more experienced paddlers. If you feel up to the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with the chance to experience whale watching from your SUP. There are only so many places in the world where you can see whales from your paddle board - and it’s every bit as thrilling as you can imagine. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the whales breaching in the distance. Hit up Oceanside Paddleboard for a SUP rental if you need one. After your adventure, grab some fantastic fresh seafood nearby.
This stretch of shoreline in Northern Pacific Beach is the go-to spot for anyone looking to beef up their SUP surfing skills. Here you’ll find mild waves and plenty of opportunity to practice. It get can get pretty packed here, but Tourmaline is known for friendly crowds, so odds are pretty high that you’ll make a new Surf SUP-loving friend. If you need to rent a SUP, Ray’s Rentals and San Diego Surf School are both convenient options.
San Diego isn’t called the City In Motion for nothing. With smooth waves and such an energetic SUP scene, paddle boarding San Diego is always an adventure. As soon as you step off your plane, you know what to do: grab your SUP and head straight for the water.
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