One of the greatest things about stand-up paddle boarding is there are so many great places to explore. Whether you live near a lake, river, pond or the ocean. With that being said, one of the most important skills to learn for stand-up paddling is how to choose an appropriate paddling location. By knowing what to look for, and what to avoid, you will stay safe, and ensure that your paddling experience is fun for everyone involved.
The ideal stand up paddle boarding environment has protection from wind and waves, good access points for launching and landing, plenty of places to go ashore, and minimal boat traffic. Look for calm days, or quiet lakes and river waves without noticeable current.
Although it can be tempting to search out more remote locations, populated areas are nice because there will usually be someone around who can lend a hand in the event that something goes wrong. This is also why it's important that you do not paddle alone because there really is safety in numbers when it comes to being out in the water.
As a general rule, if you enter in to water that isn't protected from wind and waves, or if you travel further from shore than you could comfortably swim back, you should be an experienced and self-reliant paddle boarder. Although the ocean and large lakes can sometimes be incredibly calm and do offer an ideal paddling environment, you need to appreciate how quickly the weather can turn, and how dynamic these environments can be. If you do plan on paddling in exposed areas, make sure you check the weather forecast before going out. And keep your eyes peeled for any signs of bad weather.
It's also important that you are aware of different take-out points so that you will not feel compelled to challenge deteriorating conditions to get back to your original launch point. Now, if it's sub surfing that you are interested in doing, you need to appreciate how dangerous an uncontrolled paddle board can be to the people around you. And so, the best places to learn to surf are soft, sandy beaches with knee-high waves where no one else is surfing. Only when you are competent and confident, should you consider venturing in to surf zones with other surfers around.
So there you have it. A simple breakdown of how to select the appropriate paddling environment for your skill level.
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