Learning How to Stand-Up Paddleboard in San Diego

The sparkling waters of Mission Beach and Mission Bay that surround Paradise Point are the ideal aquatic playground for an array of watersports including surfing, bodyboarding, wakeboarding, skimboarding and other activities. With calm, flat waters, it’s also the perfect place to learn how to stand-up paddleboard.

Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the most newly popular San Diego watersports, and is a great option for those looking to take in the scenery from another perspective, stay fit, or simply a slower-paced, tranquil activity on the water. Most marinas or other stand-up paddleboard rentals in San Diego will give you an introductory 10-minute lesson, but learning how to stand-up paddleboard is relatively easy. With a little equipment and some focus and balance, you can learn how to stand-up paddleboard  on your own with these tips.


  • SUP board – Usually 9-13 feet long, these boards look very similar to a surfboard but are slightly wider and longer to provide more stability. Longer boards are better for less experienced paddlers.
  • Paddle - Ideally, your paddle should be 6-8 inches taller than you.  
  • Swimsuit – You may or may not get wet, but a swimsuit is always a good idea, even if you wear shorts and a t-shirt over it. Stand-up paddleboarding is relatively easy, but expect to take the occasional fall as you're learning.
  • Personal Flotation Devices – While not required, they are strongly recommended, especially when paddling in deeper waters.


When learning how to stand-up paddleboard, it's easier to start by kneeling on the board. Here are some stand-up paddleboarding tips for getting into position:

  • Start by kneeling right behind the center point of the board. Take some time finding the balance point of the board where the nose doesn’t stick up and the tail doesn’t dig in.
  • Place your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it. Once you're ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time, placing your feet where your knees were.
  • Once standing, your feet should be parallel, hip-width distance apart. Keep your knees bent and your back straight. Try to stare ahead instead of down at your feet.


  •  You should always hold the paddle with one hand low on the shaft (the hand on the side you’re paddling on) and the other on the top grip.
  • Paddle by placing the paddle blade completely underwater, pulling it back to your ankle, then out of the water and back to the point where you started.


  • To go in a straight line, alternate paddling 4 or 5 strokes on each side of the board.
  • To turn your stand-up paddleboard, paddle on one side until the nose turns in the direction you want to go. To turn left, paddle on the right. To turn right, paddle on the left. You can also turn by dragging the paddle or paddling backwards on either side of the board.

For a look at how to stand-up paddleboard, as well as other San Diego watersports available on Mission Bay, watch this video.  (Skip to 1:30 for stand-up paddleboard instruction.)

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