Riding Rhode Island

Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the union, but with its back bays, rivers and beaches, the Ocean State looms large in the standup world. Thirty percent consists of bays and inlets, meaning you can paddle through downtown Providence, fish off your board, go for an afternoon downwinder and still grab waves at a standup-friendly beach all in the same day. Rhode Islanders were the first to declare independence from British rule, and the state has been in the vanguard of the SUP revolution as well. — Kevin Voegtlin

Open-ocean downwinders, long river stretches, scenic flatwater, urban canals—with its diversity and easy access to a wealth of waterways, Rhode Island has endless touring options. Put in at the Fox Point Hurricane Barricades in Providence and paddle through canals passing by the vibrant capital’s skyscrapers, historic buildings and statues. The canal ends in the buzzing center of downtown.

If you prefer a natural landscape, the coastline offers jagged, tree-covered cliffs dropping straight into the water. The wind comes up in the afternoon allowing for some great downwind runs. For flatter water, tour the state’s bays and small islands, many lined with classic New England-style estates. Bonus: Tour the waterways around Newport Harbor and the Newport Bridge. The harbor always has lots going on and offers great sightseeing by SUP. Coastal Urge (coastalurge.com) hosted the first annual Newport SUP Cup Race in the harbor in August, drawing hordes of boards and bystanders.

Surfing may not be the first thing that pops to mind when you think Rhode Island. But great waves can be found, as well as an equally cool surf scene.

Summertime hurricanes in the Atlantic serve up everything from fun 3-footers to serious surf. North swells in the winter bring consistent power but often require a short, chilly trek through the snow.

Comprised of islands with a rugged coastline, Rhode Island features a variety of surf spots that can work any given time depending on conditions. First and Second Beach in Newport offer miles of beach break options, and tend to pull in any swell in the area. They also harbor easy beach breaks that draw the most crowds. If you’re willing to explore, you can find point breaks, reef breaks, slabs and everything else that makes SUPers salivate.

*After Hours
Hit Providence and Newport for late-night fun. Newport’s harbor has a lineup of great restaurants and bars with a New England waterfront feel, while Providence has more big-city offerings of anything you want, from fresh seafood and mojitos to sports bars and beer. For a quieter setting, head across the bridge into historic Jamestown, a tiny hamlet with a cool vibe. Stop by the Narragansett (narragansettcafe.com) for live music, a cold beer and award-winning fish and chips on “Blues Sunday.”