In this article, we uncover ten amazing places to paddle board in North Carolina!
North Carolina is a state known for its diverse landscapes and waterways, making it a popular destination for paddleboarding. Whether you are an experienced paddler or a beginner, there are plenty of great places to explore on a paddleboard in the state. Here are the top 10 most beautiful places to paddle board in NC!
The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina and is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. The area is home to a wide variety of marine life, making it a great place to paddle board. The nearby marinas also offer paddleboard rentals and guided tours.
This a favorite vacation spot for many people along the East Coast of the United States. And with its beautiful beaches with drive-on capabilities, incorporation of other watersports including kiteboarding and windsurfing, as well as great fishing areas, it’s not difficult to see why! For a fantastic time at the beach, we recommend the Outer Banks as our first stop in North Carolina.
For more information about where to paddle board in the Outer Banks, be sure to head here.
Lake James is located in the western part of the state and offers some of the most stunning scenery in North Carolina. The lake is surrounded by lush forests and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to paddle board. The lake also offers plenty of opportunities for fishing and swimming.
If you are looking for a more low-key experience while spending time in North Carolina you can’t go wrong with Lake James. For more information about the area, as well as camping rates, check out the North Carolina State Parks website.
The New River is surrounded by lush forests and offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Paddleboarding here, you can spot a wide variety of fish, birds, and even beavers.
While many paddleboarding areas consist of a lake or even the ocean, paddling on the river is a fun challenge for any paddler. To explore a new environment while paddling in North Carolina, we recommend an afternoon on the New River.
For additional information on launch locations and camping, check out the New River State Park website!
The Nantahala River is a beautiful and serene river located in the western part of the state. The river is surrounded by lush forests and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to paddle board.
While the New River is a peaceful choice to experience time on the water, the Nantahala River is more of a challenge. There are stretches of water here that incorporate class II-III rapids. Both of which should be avoided unless you are an experienced paddler. However, at the right spot, this location is a great way to get the feel of paddling with a current which is always a fun experience.
To find out additional information about the river, and launch locations, as well as information about zip-lining activities, check out the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Lake Norman is a man-made lake located in the northern part of the state. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills. And is home to a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to paddle board in North Carolina. While the previous location is a bit more exciting, Lake Norma offers a quiet, peaceful place to paddle board with friends and family. We recommend heading here if you’re into more tranquil areas.
Bonus: The lake is surrounded by excellent restaurants, exciting events, and more! For more information check out the Visit Lake Norman website.
Fontana Lake is a gorgeous emerald-green lake nestled in the Smoky Mountain Range. The lake offers plenty of opportunities for exploration. Paddleboarding here, you can spot a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, beavers, and even eagles. So, if you’re into wildlife paddles, and want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the world, a trip to Fontana Lake is a must.
If you want to visit a paddling location that is snuggled inside a beautiful mountain range, this is the place for you!
For information about camping locations and rates, check out the Great Smoky Mountains website.
Jordan Lake is a man-made lake located in the central part of the state. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to paddle board in North Carolina.
If you’re into hiking as much as you are paddling, Jordan Lake offers over 15 miles of hiking trails. As well as additional activities. Full campsites with facilities. And of course, a peaceful lake to climb aboard your Atoll iSUP and go!
For additional information on camping locations and rates, check out the North Carolina State Parks website.
Lake Waccamaw is a natural lake located in the southeastern part of the state. The lake is surrounded by lush forests. And it is home to a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to paddle board in North Carolina. But what makes this location so great?
The North Carolina State Parks website states, “Located in Columbus County 40 miles west of Wilmington, Lake Waccamaw State Park sits on the shores of the largest Carolina bay. There are 500,000 of these mysterious craters. And the lake is one of the few that contains open water instead of vegetation. A limestone bluff reduces the lake’s acidity. This makes it an ideal home for several aquatic species that are found nowhere else in the world. A pedestrian bridge over Waccamaw Dam allows visitors to travel the lake’s entire 14-mile shoreline.”
Pretty cool, right? We thought so. If you want to spend more than just a weekend here, check out their campsites and rates here.
Topsail Island is a barrier island located off the coast of North Carolina. It is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. The nearby marinas also offer paddleboard rentals and guided tours.
If you’re into ocean paddles, a trip to Topsail Island is sure to make you smile. There are wide-open beach locations for you to launch your Atoll iSUP and explore. Or if you’re into backwater paddles, the Intracoastal Waterway is just a few minutes from the beach. You can even check out the Jolly Roger or Surf City Piers in between paddling sessions.
Whatever you decide to do, a trip to Topsail Island will leave you wanting to return! For more information about the location, check out the Topsail Island website.
Lake Gaston is a 20,000-acre lake located on the border of North Carolina and Virginia between I-85 and I-95. It is bounded by the Kerr Dam and Gaston Dam. And it spans the counties of Mecklenburg and Brunswick in Virginia, as well as Warren, Halifax, and Northhampton in North Carolina. So, if you’re straddling the border between NC and VA, and looking for a place to paddle, you might have found the perfect spot at Lake Gaston.
Also, if you’re big into fishing or even SUP fishing, Lake Gaston should be your #1 spot. Lake Gaston is a popular spot for fishing due to its diverse population of game fish. They include striped bass or rockfish, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and various types of catfish. Additionally, anglers may also catch walleye, yellow perch, and chain pickerel.
We hope you enjoyed reading about these ten places to paddle board in North Carolina! Ready to head to one of these locations for a fun weekend of SUP, sun, and outdoor time? We are too! Which one do you plan on visiting first? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us today for any questions, comments, or help you need getting the board that is sure to fuel your adventures, near and abroad.