Congratulations! You’ve taken the time to choose your inflatable sup and learn the technique of stand up paddle boarding. Now’s the time to take your water skills on your travels. Here are Adam Eyal’s Top Six Winter Paddle Board Destinations to whet your whistle!
The best thing about your inflatable paddle board is that it can be deflated and rolled up to the size into a duffle bag. You can throw it in the back of your car – or even take it on an airplane – in order to try stand up paddle boarding wherever your adventures take you.
Where to Travel & Paddle this Winter
We don’t have to tell you that it’s an amazing feeling to head out on your sup on a clear day in the middle of summer. But, rather than head indoors to hunker down for the winter, have you thought about taking your paddle board out during colder months, too?
If summer seems far away, now’s the time to book a winter getaway. Here are some ideas for the best destinations to brave stand up paddling during the cold winter months. Wrap up warm, then head out for some of the most incredible scenery on the planet.
6. South Africa, Cape Town – Noordhoek & Dungeons
South Africa is a great way to ease yourself into winter stand up paddling, especially if you’re not keen on bracing yourself for arctic conditions just yet.
Situated on the south coast, Cape Town is well-known for its suitability for traditional surfing. While this does mean a lot of waves, mornings tend to provide calmer conditions. It is a stand up paddle boarder’s paradise.
Noordhoek is one of the best places to go to be guaranteed great surf. Of course, this means that it’s also pretty popular. So, if you’d prefer a quieter beach away from the crowds, head to Llandudno. This spot is popular with the locals, which is always the best sign of a location’s quality. If you’re ever invited to Dungeons, avoid it at all costs unless you’re a very experienced surfer. It is known to have some of the most extreme surf conditions in the country!
You might even spot some whales, as July to November (South Africa’s winter and spring) is the best time to visit for whale watching.
You can expect winter air temperatures of between 45° and 65°F.
5. Maui – Kaanapali Beach
If you’d rather get away for a vacation during winter than for a vacation to a winter destination, Maui is the place to go.
This part of the world has been home to stand up paddling for generations. You’re guaranteed to have a breath-taking trip at any time of year. However, winter is a magical time to plan a vacation if you want to see more than just scenery. Like South Africa, this is a place which is visited by whales and other sea life quite often.
Despite the fact that pro surfers are drawn to Maui every year, it suits all ranges of paddleboarders as well, regardless of your ability level. The northern side of the island sees the biggest waves in winter, but if you’re looking for gentler water, head for the calmer, more protected areas to the south.
Kaanapali Beach is our top pick for beginners because, aside from the breathtaking setting, it offers great conditions for learning to stand up on paddle and surf.
While temperatures at home might drop so low that it’s cold enough for snow, Maui sees temperatures between 70° and 90°F.
4. Seattle – Discovery Park & Green Lake
If you don’t like the idea of traveling abroad – or if your budget can’t stretch that far – Seattle offers some superb locations to sup. It might not be a destination that you’ll instantly think of when you’re planning your next adventure holiday, but Seattle provides some natural gems which won’t be inundated with tourists and other visitors.
Ask around among the local stand up paddlers to find the best locations away from boats and tourists. Discovery Park and Green Lake are just two examples of some great spots which take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, allowing you to switch off and take in the scenery completely. Motorized boats are not allowed on Green Lake whatsoever, meaning it has near perfect conditions for stand up paddling. While Discovery Park has seemingly endless white sands and long bike trails to keep you active back on dry land.
Rougher weather and boat wakes can provide challenging conditions if you’re experienced at paddling, but you’ll be surprised at how still and peaceful the water can be on calmer days.
In winter, the air temperature can drop to somewhere between 35° and 50°F, but prepare yourself for the fact that the water will be much colder.
3. Slovenia – Lake Bled & Ljubljana
Nestled in Europe, somewhere between Italy, Austria and Hungary, lies Slovenia. You’ll be forgiven for not considering it for a vacation: you’re not the only one. This is definitely not high on the tourist trail, so although its popularity is increasing, you’ll find mostly untouched landscapes and a culturally immersive experience.
Slovenia is situated next to the Adriatic Sea, which provides cold water stand up paddling opportunities of its own. However, the real beauty comes in with the country’s inland lakes and slow-moving rivers. It’s sandwiched between the sea and the Alps, meaning that most of the stand up paddle locations are set against the most picturesque backdrops.
Lake Bled is one such example: one of nature’s smallest stand up paddling gems. It measures just 2KM across, but right in the middle is a tiny island which is home to Bled Castle. Drink in the stunning alpine countryside, then put your land legs on as you explore the remote building.
If you’re interested in the quaint, cultural side of central Europe, but if you’re not keen on such a dive into nature, try paddling through the capital city of Ljubljana – think gondolas on the canals of Venice, but without all the tourists. This city paddling is a totally unique experience – you’ll be hard pushed to find such a cultural exercise activity anywhere else in the world.
Winter temperatures can drop to a fresh 29°F.
2. New Zealand – Bay of Islands & Abel Tasman National Park
You’ll struggle to find a destination that’s further than New Zealand, but the long journey will be worth it for the stand up paddling experience waiting at the end.
If you’ve ever tried surfing in New Zealand, the experience won’t be too different, except that New Zealand’s waters tend to be quieter, surrounded by mountains, and somehow more spectacular.
We recommend heading for the north island for the best stand up paddle destinations, including the Bay of Islands and the area surrounding Auckland. It’s littered with over 100 islands to explore by paddle board, and if you’re lucky you might spot some pretty cool marine life.
Alternatively, head for the Marahau Inlet for something truly magnificent. We’ve recommended this idyllic setting due to the fact that it’s part of Abel Tasman National Park, giving you an immersion into unspoiled nature.
You can expect New Zealand’s temperatures to sit around the 50°F mark during winter.
1. Lake Tahoe, California – Sierra Nevada Mountains
Lake Tahoe, California is proof that you don’t have to travel far to reach some of the world’s most stunning destinations. If you haven’t visited yet, you’ll probably recognize it from some of the incredible paddling photography that’s spread across the internet – and if you have visited already, you’ll know that its beauty warrants another trip.
Take in a sunrise or a sunset alongside the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains for an awe-inspiring experience that you’ll never forget.
You might be guaranteed sunshine virtually all year round, but heavy snowfall in winter on the mountainous backdrop takes stand up paddling to a whole new level. That’s why it’s our top pick: where else can you get a great sup workout and some winter sunshine, all while surrounded by heavy snow?
If you’re a beginner, this lake offers some of the best conditions in which to learn and improve your sup skills. However, if you’re more experienced, don’t be put off. Use this as an opportunity to unwind, or get your practice in for the race series which takes place between May and September.
Located Northeast of San Francisco and Sacramento, average winter temperatures for Lake Tahoe are around 30°F.
Written by, Adam Eyal
About Adam Eyal:
Adam Eyal is a content crafter at fringepursuits.com, where he covers a variety of extreme sports from paddleboarding to mountain climbing.
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”
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