What Is Paddle Boarding?

In this article, we will explain everything about paddle boarding.

Hi, I am Angle, I am the water sports consultant of SSWBoardHouse, a retired professional kayak athlete, and a certified paddle boarding instructor with over 10 years of experience.

On days when calm waters aren’t terrifying and mysterious, it becomes a fantastic place to try out various watersports such as kayaking, surfing, and paddle boarding. Today, we’ll be talking about that last one—what paddle boarding is, why it’s popular, and the benefits that you could get out of it.

In case you’re also an avid fan of kayaking, we’ve recently made an article on the best kayaking paddles on the market today. If you want to explore other kinds of water sports, we suggest checking that one out after this read.

For now, let’s talk about paddle boarding.

What Is Paddle Boarding?

Paddle boarding is exactly what the name suggests. You paddle on a board. It’s a sport where participants lay down or kneel on a surfboard or paddle board and use their arms to propel themselves across the water.

It also has a more popular derivation called Stand Up Paddling, or SUP, where participants use a paddle while standing on their board to move forward. Nowadays, when referring to paddle boarding, it is synonymous to SUP.

You could think of it as a combination of surfing and kayaking. Although waves are required for surfing, calm tides are better for paddle boarding as they involve balance and coordination with your paddle.

Brief History of Paddle Boarding

To understand the history of paddle boarding, we need to go back to the 1940s in Hawaii, where its roots originated from. 

Surfing is quite popular on the coasts of Hawaii due to their big waves, so there was an abundance of surfing enthusiasts and instructors. These instructors, called the Waikiki Beach Boys, would stand on their own surfboards to get a good view of their students as they practiced. 

This lasted for a couple of years up until the 2000s when paddle boarding as a sport really took off as people began to start talking more about it. Today, the new watersport has officially gone mainstream, and you can find a wide variety of paddle board shapes and sizes.

What is the Point of Paddle Boarding? (Benefits of SUP)

We know that engaging in physical activities can benefit your health and overall fitness, and paddle boarding is no exception.

Paddle boarding can be an amazing way to exercise your whole body, from your back muscles, arms, shoulders, legs, and even core. If you ever wanted an all-in-one watersport workout package, this is it. 

Whether you do it professionally or simply for recreation, the sport enhances your cardiovascular health, which leads to less risk for strokes and heart diseases.

In SUP, where standing is a must, you would be able to practice your balance a lot. It also grants you a wider view of the area around you, which is perfect if you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Since calm seas are preferred for paddle boarding, you’ll most likely find tranquility on the water. This should help reduce your overall stress levels and let you unwind for a bit.

What is the Purpose of Paddle Boarding?

If you’re thinking recreationally, then paddle boarding would be a water sport where you traverse across the water via means of self-propulsion. Due to its simple nature, people find it relaxing to engage in the sport.

Some fans also use paddle boarding to get used to balancing themselves on a surfboard. Later on, as they mastered the sport, they could engage in riding the waves better and surfing, but without the paddle this time.

Paddle Boarding Checklist

SUP Is a Great Exercise

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the best whole-body workouts you can get from a watersport. Partly one of the reasons why it got so popular was for these benefits.

Other than the general paddling and maintaining balance, it’s not too uncommon to do yoga while paddle boarding. Since yoga requires a lot of balance, it’s recommended to use the wide planing boards as they offer more stability.

Not only will you work out your core muscles, but your cardiovascular health as well, contributing to the overall fitness of your body. 

How Difficult is Paddle Boarding?

Compared to other watersports, paddle boarding is actually quite easy for the average fit and healthy individual. With just a few hours of practicing under proper guidance, you can already become a highly efficient paddle boarder in the field.

When Compared to Kayaking, is Paddle Boarding Harder? (SUP Vs Kayak)

Paddle boarding definitely comes out as the easier-to-learn watersport for many reasons, including boarding and disembarking, capsizing, and transportation.


Most kayaks are typically the sit-in types where your two feet are inserted into a snug cockpit, whereas for paddleboards, you simply get on top of it. 

The difficulty varies with each terrain, with sandy beaches being the easiest to embark/disembark on a kayak. Dealing with docks above water would probably be the most taxing as it’ll require the kayaker a series of complex maneuvers and proper balance just to get in the kayak.


When a kayak capsizes or flips over on water, it’ll take more effort to flip it back as opposed to a paddle board.


Paddle boards are generally lighter and easier to transport than kayaks in size and weight alone, which adds to its overall convenience when traveling.


Whether it be for recreation or profession, paddle boarding is a great way to exercise your whole body while having fun on the water. 

Another great watersport to try out is kayaking, and we’ve actually made numerous articles for that, including the best kayak paddles and how to choose them.