In this article, we will take a look at some of the best places to go paddle boarding in Southern California. Whether you’re looking for a classic California beach or a secret secluded spot that no one seems to know about, we have something for everyone in this blog.
Castaic Lake State Recreational Area
Just 40 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, Castaic Lake is a lovely option for paddlers of all skill levels, as it features 29 miles of beautiful shoreline with countless coves to explore.
Marina Del Rey Harbor
A perfect place to experience everything that Los Angeles has to offer, Marina Del Rey Harbor is absolutely overflowing with life, energy, and culture. Featuring eight protected canals, gorgeous wildlife, cute little shops, and delicious restaurants all in the surrounding area, Marina Del Rey Harbor truly has something for everyone.
Right by the landmark Point Dume in Malibu, paddle boarders have the opportunity to get access to a private beach that is ocean access only – a true rarity in Southern California. If you’re lucky, you may also see some migrating gray whales!
With more than five miles of shoreline to paddle down, Puddingstone Reservoir is one of the cleanest bodies of water on this list, as motorized boats are not permitted on the reservoir. Additionally, there have been more than 250 species of birds spotted in the area, making the reservoir an excellent place to enjoy and appreciate all the local wildlife.
A hidden gem in the Angeles National Forest, Pyramid Lake is known for its peaceful setting, which is perfect for fishing, paddle boarding, and exploring. Be careful while you’re out there, though, as Pyramid Lake is known for being very windy! If the wind does pick up, seek refuge in the first four coves on the eastern side of the lake, all of which are perfect hideaways from the wind and any other foul weather. If you’re able to get there early in the morning, you may be able to see some deer grazing on the Priest and Glory Hole coves! Also, if you’re looking for some lovely green and blue hues, head over to Emigrant Landing Launch, which is a prime spot for seeing the most beautiful patches of Pyramid Lake.
Dana Point Harbor
With seven miles of coastal bluffs and scenic rolling hills along the Pacific Ocean, Dana Point Harbor might just be one of the most beautiful spots on this list. As if that wasn’t enough, the nearby Doheny State Park is home to 62 acres of open space, all of which is perfect for picnicking, camping, bicycling, surfing, swimming, etc.
Recommended for intermediate and advanced paddlers, Fisherman’s Cove Beach has crystal-clear waters that are perfect for SUP snorkeling. Paddlers in the area can expect to see kelp forests, exposed reefs, and dolphins past the surf break.
An excellent place for beginners, Huntington Harbor is home to smoother and calmer currents than most of the other places on this list. Add a guided tour around the area and you’re sure to have a ton of fun in Huntington Harbor.
Crystal Cove State Park
A much more open-ocean paddling experience, Crystal Cove State Park possesses 3 miles of shoreline and an underwater park that covers more than a thousand acres. This, of course, makes it a perfect place for some SUP snorkeling, especially for those who hope to see marine life up close and personal. Be careful, though, as many Morro Bay rock cliffs make Crystal Cove State Park one of the more rugged options on our list. Before you go, be sure to take a hike either before or after your aquatic adventures, as this will give you a complete view of the area. Trust us, this surrounding area is so beautiful you don’t want to miss a single thing.
Located in the middle of Newport Beach, Balboa Island is an excellent place for beginner SUP paddlers. With calm waters, slow paces, and lovely scenery throughout, Balboa Island is a wonderful place to fall in love with paddling.
A perfect place to leisurely paddle on calm waters and take in some beautiful views, Back Bay is a genuine blessing for anyone in need of a peaceful escape. While basking in the beauty of Back Bay, one will see plenty of picturesque nature scenes, including wildlife, flora, and heavenly horizons on the ocean.
San Diego Area
Located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island contains crystal-clear waters, captivating caves, and a wide variety of wildlife – including dolphins, leopard sharks, and golden orange garibaldis. With 52 miles of coastline to explore—either on your own as a part of a guided tour—there is no shortage of adventures on Catalina Island.
Del Mar Dog Beach
The only beach in North County San Diego that allows dogs, Del Mar Dog Beach is a beautiful choice for both man and his best friend. Whether you and your furry friend are in the mood for some SUP paddling or just floating on some calming currents, Del Mar is a marvelous beach for anyone.
La Jolla Shores Beach
One of the most stunningly beautiful spots on our list, La Jolla Shores Beach is a quintessential paddle boarding destination. From its towering rocky cliffs to its crystal-clear waters full of thriving marine life, La Jolla Shores Beach is sure to become one of your favorites, too.
Four beaches for the price of one, Coronado Island is divided into Central Beach, South Beach, Silver Strand Beach, and North Beach. While all of them are wonderful spots, we’re especially partial to Silver Strand Beach and South beach, both of which have on-duty lifeguards, showers, and restroom facilities.
With 27 miles of shoreline to its name, Mission Bay is an amazing choice for any occasion. Where sandy beaches surround calm waters, paddle boarders of all skill levels can enjoy a nice and peaceful setting while soaking up some sun along the way. Just be sure to get there early, as the parking lots tend to fill up quickly.
An all-inclusive destination, Carlsbad Lagoon is a lovely choice for all types of adventures as well as paddlers of every skill level. A prime location for a calmer and more relaxing SUP paddling experience, Carlsbad Lagoon is an excellent choice for family vacations and any other group getaways.
Just outside of Malibu and Los Angeles County, Mondo’s Beach paddle begins at the Point Sand Dune at Point Mugu State Beach and then navigates around Point Mugu Rock. Not only is this coastal open ocean paddle a bit off the beaten path, but it also gives paddlers a chance to get close to some dolphins! Please note, however, that swells in weather and tides can greatly affect the difficulty of this paddle, so it is not recommended for beginners.
Redondo Beach (King Harbor)
One of the best paddling places to see some wildlife, Redondo Beach features crabs, sting rays, sea lions, and so many more beautiful animals. Better yet, if you go further from the shore, you have a real chance of spotting dolphins as well as migrating whales! Then, when you’re done on the water, you can enjoy all the restaurants, shops, and outdoor activities surrounding the area.
Santa Cruz Island
Last but not least, one of the most popular SUP spots in all of California, Santa Cruz Island is home to hundreds of sea caves, all of which are prime places to explore. Take, for instance, Painted Cove – one of the largest sea caves in the world! Countless companies offer tours of Santa Cruz Island, so you’ll have no problem seeing all the best parts of this natural phenomenon. Although, just to be safe, we do recommend packing a headlamp for the darker parts. Trust us, you don’t want to miss out on the breathtaking beauty of the multi-hued cave walls.
Now that you know all the best places to go paddle boarding in Southern California, don’t forget to grab any supplies you might need. Or, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with our team of paddling experts. Whatever you may need, we are always happy to help. We hope to serve you sometime soon!