SUP magazine’s Paddle Town Battle

by default 2014-03-10 at 11.00.40 AM Photo by Kevin Voegtlin

SUP magazine’s Paddle Town Battle

Welcome to the Paddle Town Battle. During NCAA’s March Madness, we’re running our own contest to determine the nation’s best paddling town (look for the feature in the Summer issue).

After a short nomination period (consider it the conference championships), we’ll choose eight towns from across the country based on proximity to water (whitewater, touring, surf, downwind) and community (shops, events, clubs) with points given to each.

SUP magazine will create an Elite Eight bracket and you, SUP magazine readers, will vote to determine the nation’s best town to live in if you’re a paddler. The winning town gets massive bragging rights for its constituents and major verbage in our Summer issue.

But for now it’s time to nominate your town. Please nominate and tell us why your town’s great in the comments below.


  • Mike Harvey

    Salida, Colorado. 4 standing waves right downtown (in sight of at least 3 bars) in the whitewater park. Right in the middle of 80 miles of whitewater paddling on the Arkansas. FIBArk Festival the oldest whitewater paddling event in North America (66 years and running). Home to Badfish SUP.

  • Pam

    The Millers River in Orange Massachusetts. For years this river has been the training ground for some of the best marathon canoe racers in the country. Each spring hundreds of paddlers line the banks to race the 6 mile Blue Trail in the annual River Rat Race. Not so long ago the river was so polluted that a spill in it meant a trip to the hospital. These days the water quality is tested regularly and the river is clean enough to fish and swim in. Local kids attend summer camp, learning how to paddle and care for this valuable asset running through their town, while adults practice yoga on stand up paddleboards. The Millers River is key to this mill town, bringing people together for healthy exercise, photography, competition, and meditation along its banks. What was once polluted water is now healthy habitat for fish, birds, turtles, and insects. We would like others to know how wonderful the river is for our community!

  • Capobeachboy

    Dana Point hands down – it’s a laid back beach town with excellent food, accommodations, and entertainment. It has been a haven for paddlers of all craft for decades and the local waters were home to pioneering waterman Whitey Harrison who started Dana Outrigger Club in 1972. It’s no wonder the area has been the epicenter of the mainland SUP movement for years. The harbor is excellent for flat water training and a perfect venue for beginners, kids and SUP Yoga classes. Just offshore there’s some beautiful paddling north towards Laguna where you can skirt the kelp beds or explore the coastline, and our afternoon seabreeze gives us fun downwind runs to San Clemente pier & beyond. There’s great surf all around depending on the swell direction and your ability, and Dana is home to many of the pioneering companies in the SUP world like Infinity and Hobie where you can get a custom board shaped by one of the masters. There’s some excellent SUP schools and junior paddling camps, and because it’s a relatively small town it’s not uncommon to bump into a surfing or paddling legend or resident pro. Dana is also the home of at least six races a year – from fun club events to channel crossings and the unofficial world championships the Rainbow Sandals Gerry Lopez Battle of the Paddle.


    Sarasota, Florida! Not only do we have beautiful weather year round, we get surf in the winter that is just perfect on a SUP. There are SUP and surf kids camps, paddleboard races (the SURFit All Kids SUP Race, the Sarasota SUP series, the Water Monkey Challenge), social paddling groups and race training groups. If the Gulf is too rough, we have hundreds of other places to explore….including mangrove tunnels, the intercoastal, and the great, wild rivers. Not to mention, we are so close to the beautiful springs of North Florida (hello Manatees!), the east coast is two hours away and we have great food!

  • Blue Trail

    This place is awesome…..I grew up around this river, and can not believe how great it is today

  • David H Small

    The 6 mile Millers River Blue Trail in Athol and Orange Massachusetts is an excellent stretch of River and as Pam Browning so eloquently stated has seen a rebirth in the last few decades from a highly polluted paper mill discharge to a beautiful river teaming with Fish, Turtles and Dragonflies. The season will hopefully (if the ice breaks by then) kick off April 12th with the 50th annual River Rat Spectacular race with up to 400 entries in a shotgun start. The rest of the spring, summer, and fall canoeists kayakers fisherman, birders, dragonfly watchers and other naturalists of all ages use the river daily. My vote for best Blue Trail!

  • Steve Stuebner

    Hey Joe! I’d nominate Boise or McCall! They’re both surrounded by a ton of SUP’ing destinations – lakes, ponds and rivers.

  • Mike E

    Orlando, Florida! Dotted with some of the most beautiful flat water lake chains and rivers, Orlando is the home to some of the most diverse access to year-round SUP in the nation! From river paddling to recreational and yoga, and home to some of the state’s elite SUP racers! Orlando is anchored with incredible locally owned SUP companies that will get you trained with services and gear, like Paddleboard Orlando, Maui B’s and Wave of Wellness! Orlando supports SUP ongoing learning by being the home of Paddle Race Tuesdays SUP Racing series, the free Thursday Night Training Series and the Sunday Morning Serenity relaxed paddles! Orlando has great way to keep SUPers connected through Facebook pages like Orlando SUP Community and Stand Up Florida, where you can find free group paddles, new locations, sell gear and trade SUP knowledge and skills! Orlando IS the home of the best SUP community in the country… Come on over and paddle with us this weekend!

  • Mike Babineau

    Wilmington, North Carolina! Very simply has it all! From long and beautiful, intercoastal waterways, to many amazing surf spots. Not to mention the coolest and most enthusiastic community of stands up paddlers! Home to the Carolina cup, look no further for the best SUP town….period!

  • Chet C

    I would like to nomimate San Diego California as the Best Paddle Town. We have open ocean and surf paddling from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. We have flat saltwater paddling on Mission Bay and San Diego Harbor near Coronado. There are quite a few Stand Up Paddleboard Companies in the San Diego Area. The great weather means you can SUP almost all year round. The SUP Workout gives you strength, definition and cardio benefits while playing in the sun. There are classes at the local colleges and universites as well as open to the public to help you get started. I was introduced to SUP during SDSU Day On The Bay Celebration at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. I have loved SUP ever since. Thank you SDSU. There are plenty of places to rent SUP equipment such as REI, Mission Bay Aquatic Center and the Coronado Club Room and Boathouse to name a few. They often put on special paddle events during sunsets or full moons. We have even had visitors from Tennessee get introduced to SUP in the middle of December, after going to the Poinsettia Bowl 2013. Some of the local SUP companies will even let you test drive their boards and paddles.

  • Claire Chappell

    Not to mention pristine alpine lakes, one of the best paddle gear stores in the country (Colorado Kayak Supply) a few miles away and literally 360 mountain views.

  • James F

    No doubt, Orlando is the best place to SUP! From developing your skills with Paddleboard Orlando to exploring some of the most diverse waterways to train and play in, Orlando takes SUP to another level. Paddle the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, Butler chain in Windermere, Wekiva river, Winter Haven chain, or travel less than an hour to the coast and drop in the Banana River or Indian River for some epic downwinders and/or some SUP surf at Cocoa Beach. The endless possibilities of where to drop in and paddle are great, but it’s the community of SUPers that makes Orlando the best. Whether you want to race, surf, train, have a chill session, or just get together with other enthusiast and talk SUP, you’ve always got a fellow addict ready for their next SUP fix. Just post a message on Orlando SUP Community and meetup with some friends. Orlando also loves to PRT! Join us

  • Wendy Garza

    Capitola, CA- A great little beach town with lots of character. Capitola is beautiful, right on the ocean & also has unique shops,bars & restuaunts to go to when you are done SUPing.You surf the waves on a SUP there too.

  • bluesharp

    Amen. Dana Point and all of Coastal South OC is SUP heaven. In addition to all of the great reasons you mentioned, there are the people – SUP folks here almost all smile and say hello as they paddle by you, just a real great feeling in the water. We also have two more or less dedicated SUP surf spots, one at the far south of Doheny and Dog Patch at San Onofre. There is plenty of room in the harbor, and lots more out in the ocean for the growing number of SUP enthusiasts – and there is no localism in our sport, at least not here. Just a great vibe in Dana Point – real people, having fun. Clean water, lots of dolphins, whales, seals and sea birds to enjoy – great place to paddle, great place to live.

  • Gary

    Madison, Wisconsin. Lakes Mendota, Monona and Wingra right downtown, everything from flat water to epic downwind runs. Amazing wildlife viewing from bald eagles, osprey, tundra swans and even pelicans a few days a year! Home of the Midwest Stand Up Paddle Festival and its sponsor Paddleboard Specialists.

  • Dave Green

    I nominate Boise, Idaho – The capitol of the Whitewater State and the birthplace of SUP maker Glide, Boise is also home to the Boise River Park and Whitewater Hall of Famer Rapid Rob Lesser, Olympian Jim Wade and the gateway to the world famous North Fork of the Payette River. The North Fork is the site of the North Fork Championships and the Payette River Games. The Payette River Games for 2014 is offering the largest purses in history for both SUP and kayak competitions. The first lady of SUP Nikki Gregg is on the board at Kelly’s WW Park and we are pretty sure we’re bringing the first international river surfing competition in the U.S. in for the games. Boise is #RIVERLIFE at it’s best, we even have a radio station named The River.

  • Chris Cochran

    Missoula, Montana!! With Brennan’s wave, 3 rivers in the area to choose from and numerous other lakes and rivers within a short driving distance, it is definitely a contender!

    Not to forget 2 new SUP races, and the Max Wave drawn up and hopefully built just down river from Brennan’s Wave!

  • merrick

    Oscoda MI. Gained the name paddle town USA for canoe culture and racing on the mighty Ausable River but I find it to be a touring SUP paradise. On a calm day I will cruise 6 to 10 miles along beautiful Lake Huron shoreline. Or if the chop on the big water is too much I will drop into the Ausable and paddle thru beautiful old growth forest. Mark owner and operater of local business Motor city kiteboarding supplies the area with boards and rentals. Please consider Oscoda MI for SUP paddle town.

  • Hector Ruiz

    The BEST paddle town is Rincon, Puerto Rico. The coastline of Rincon offers a wide variety of conditions simultaneously.
    You can paddle-surf waves up to 20 ft and paddle flat waters only a
    couple of miles down the coast the same day. It has one of the largest
    and most vibrants SUPers communities. Last but not least this beautiful
    piece of paradise is hometown of the Annual Rincon Beachboy SUP Race, the largest SUP event in the Caribbean.

  • Cristine

    Rincon, this town offers the best snorkeling, surf and social spots of the Island. Imagine doing all of the above on your SUP trip, that’s  how amazing Rincon is. Don’t set your mind on just cruise around, because the Caribbean weather makes you experience all kinds of SUP adventures the same day. Come and share a paddle with us!

  • Cristine

    Rincon, Puerto Rico. This town offers the best snorkeling, surf and social spots of the Island. Imagine doing all of the above on your SUP trip, that’s  how amazing Rincon is. Don’t set your mind on just cruise around, because the Caribbean weather makes you experience all kinds of SUP adventures the same day. Come and share a paddle with us!

  • Isaac

    Portland, Oregon, deserves a spot on the list. In town the willamette offers great flat water paddling and a vibrant paddling community. There are also several races there. For one of the best downwinders out there, Hood River and the Columbia River gorge are a short distance away. Head the other direction and you can SUP some world class waves on the Oregon Coast. There are also several whitewater rivers within a short drive from town. Gorge Performance is probably the biggest SUP shop anywhere North of California and can help with board rentals and sales. There are several world class paddlers that call the Pacific Northwest their home. They choose to live there for a reason.

  • Waleska Lakshmi Sallaberry

    Definitely Rincon Puerto Rico, a very small town in the west coast of the island with the most amazing sunsets. Depending on interests you can go towards the north and SUP surf or go south for flat water paddles..all within just a few miles. Paddling over the Tres Palmas Marine reserve is like paddling over a giant fish tank. The visibility most of the days is amazing. You can sea sea turtles and if you paddle a bit further out encounter dolphins and watch humpback whales (during the season). Sunset paddle is amazing and even more full moon paddles when the waters are so calm you can see the marine world underneath you. Im in love, you is everybody that comes/

  • boiseriverpark

    Boise, Idaho is in the midst of a paddling renaissance with the expansion of the Boise River Park as well as the ongoing love affairs with the Boise, Payette and Salmon rivers. The overall quality of life in Boise is way up there and we’re intent on making it even better!

  • Idaho River Sports

    We love Boise, Idaho (obviously) for the Boise River, Boise River Park our proximity to the great Payette, Salmon and Snake Rivers. But mostly we love the paddling community in Boise. From SUP to kayak to rafting there really isn’t a greater community anywhere. Idaho river life rocks.

  • Evelyn ODoherty

    My fav place to paddle is definitely Rincon, PR. Sunsets, reef, visibility and fun. Downwinders from Corsega Beach to Domes or Sandy’s to the Marina are a beautiful way to familiarize the coastline and check out the reef. Be sure to bring snorkel gear and maybe a SUP surfboard if conditions are right 😉 Friendly and non-pretentious, Rincon is the best, hand’s down.

  • Sandra Caro Caro

    Rincon, Puerto Rico, of course. We are right on the beach on the west coast. There is something for everyone: waves or flat water; for beginners and Elite riders. The first stand up paddle boards in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean came to Rincon. It is the perfect combination; great accommodations, the best sunsets of the universe, spectacular food and friendly people. Also, Rincon is the home of the Rincon Beachboy Stand up paddle board race, coming to its sixth edition , the biggest and best stand up paddle race in the Caribbean, with $16,000 in cash prizes guaranteed. Rincon is for families, we welcome everyone. While you paddle enjoy whales, turtles, dolphins, manatees, and better yet paddle over the most amazing coral reefs in Puerto Rico.

  • Enrique Ruiz Almodóvar

    Rincón, Puerto Rico. Perfect beaches for surfing. Also best beaches for Paddleboarding. It has an excellent sceneary when the sun goes down and beautiful coral reefs one can see while ridding Rincón.

  • Esther

    RINCON Puerto Rico, clean water, miles of beautiful coastal view, flat waters and amazing waves, the most beautiful sunset paddle you can experience, SUP friendly community with the best SUP Race of the Caribbean “Rincon Beachboy SUP Race” ,
    also great places to stay with good food and drinks! RINCON THE BEST

  • Kareem Rivera

    I nominate Rincon, Puerto Rico. This town offer everything you can imagine in watersports for everone of all ages. It has that gorgeous Caribbean weather all year long, plus it has social spots all around town; and the best of all no passport needed for all USA citizens!!! “RINCON, PUERTO RICO – THE TOWN OF THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS AND SURFING CAPITAL”.

  • Gina Bradley

    This is Gina Bradley from Paddle Diva in East Hampton, New York, weighing in. By far, after extensive time in the Caribbean, I can say without a doubt Rincon, is one of my favorite spots for SUP. Offering the gorgeous coast line, calm spot and really fun waves make Rincon my #1 travel destination! The races the island offers, Paddle Royal, Rincon Beach Boy and Escape to Coffin island just to mention a few, show this island’s commitment and enthusiasm for SUP! Book your next trip to Rincon and find out for yourself why!

  • Danny Smith

    I’m going with Brevard County, FL 538 square miles of water to paddle on and that doesn’t include our 76 miles (give or take) of ocean front to SUP surf on. We have water for every type of SUPer from the 3 year old first getting on a board to the elite 62 year old racer who raced this past weekend at the Beach & Boardsfest

  • Francia Lantz

    Rincon, Puerto Rico is by far the best candidate for paddleboard town. This unique town offers not only paddleboarding options but a full array of other watersports, small inns and hotels and restaurants all surrounded by water. This penninsula is like no other offering small coves and stretches of palm lined beaches. Our annual Rincon BeachBoy SUP race has grown immensely in just a few short years and leads into our Rincon International Film Festival the following week. This community has built a reputation for being on the cutting edge of tourism and we support and protect our natural resources with projects such as Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. The people make this place and everyone who visits can’t wait to return.

  • Dos Angeles

    Rincon, Puerto Rico! Clear, warm water. Big waves, small waves and no waves. It’s like above water snorkeling!

  • Rebecca G.

    Rincon, Puerto Rico! Rincon is without a doubt THE dream town for paddlers. Situated on the west coastline, you can find flat to ragin’ water conditions only a few miles apart. The beautifully clear (not to mention incredibly warm) waters offer breathtaking views of the sunset and coast- and don’t forget to look below you at the coral life

  • Russ Acevedo

    Rincon, Puerto Rico. We were the site of the 1968,88 & 2007 World Surfing Championships and soon to be the 6th time host of a major SUP Race – the largest in the Caribbean! Even when the surf is sky high you can paddle with the surfers. The sunsets are beautiful, the rum is cold and the nights are hot!!

  • Daniella Camacho

    Rincon, Puerto Rico is just the best town and destination out there. The weather is perfect, the beaches are incredible and the people. The vibes in Rincon are just very unique. You can do anything there from snorkeling, paddle boarding, surfing, swim, banana boats, parasailing, just everything! It’s an incredible and magical place in Paradise.

  • liz pal

    RIncon, PR is best paddle town. with surf, sand, and sun.

  • Anbrialis

    Rincon Puerto Rico hands down. Great snorkeling, surf, and the Beachboy SUP Race :-)

  • Tiffany Barry

    Rincon, Puerto Rico, without a doubt offers all you need for SuP lovers! Beginning to advanced, the scenery does not get better!
    A tropical environment with warm water, varying coastline, 2 huge bays, open water challenges, and even waves! You can paddle surf, paddle fish, paddle snorkel, paddle yoga, paddle with your dog or small children…in crystal clear water that is always 72-82 degrees! There are numerous great places to stay and play, easy beach access to all beaches.
    Come paddle with us, any time of year!!

  • Roberto Ruiz

    Rincon, Puerto Rico…. Definitely!!!!!!

  • Viviana Hernandez

    Rincon, Puerto Rico is definitely the best paddling town and the best place to live!!! Paradise!!!

  • Grant

    After traveling the Country and the World, I have to say that Orlando, Florida is one of the best places for paddleboarding around. We have everything, literally everything, that a SUP enthusiast could want. Do you want to paddle leisurely through canals and on lakes, we have that. Do you want to have weekly races with people from all over the state, mid-week and weekend, we have that. Do you want to surf, the gulf coast and the Atlantic are 45 min away. Down winders in the winter and hurricane swell in the summer, we have both of those. The weather rarely demands a wetsuit and if it does, it’s only until the cold front passes. Name the adventure, and Orlando has it. Plus on top of that, the people in the SUP community are out of this world. They cheer for you to Paddle Faster when you are racing them, or telling you to share the wave. If they are on a board and have a paddle in hand chances are they are a rad person.

    The only problem in Orland is figuring out where to keep all the different boards for all the different adventures. But, we seem to figure it all out.

  • Jessica Cichra

    I recommend Orlando, FL – with it’s MANY freshwater lakes, chains of lakes complete with venetian-like canals, & beautiful rivers – abundant with wildlife & FL jungle! Plus we have an AWESOME SUP community with weekly Paddle Race Tuesdays & Thursday SUP Trainings, lessons & more!

  • EVey

    New Smyrna beach

  • Steven Robles

    Rincón, Puerto Rico USA! To the north the Atlantic Ocean offers great SUP surfing conditions, to the south, the Caribbean Sea offers its tranquil waters. No wetsuit or passport required for US Citizens which makes for easy traveling from the US mainland. Puerto Rico uses US currency, telecommunications, electric, and water system are all US standard which means you can drink the water, and use your cellphone! Only about 3 hours from the East CoasT (compared that to Hawaii’s 12-15 hours of travel!). Hands down Rincón, Puerto Rico is the place to be!

  • Celmarie Aviles Rios

    Rincon, Puerto Rico –
    it is the best paddle town. Rincon, “the surfer’s paradise” -features
    incredible and constant surf-waves… but beyond hosting amazing surf-paddle-waters,
    it is a relaxed beach town with the best sunsets in the Caribbean. Rincon also offers the Best Tropical Beach Bars.

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  • Bob

    Viviana Hernandez for sure is correct, Rincon is the best. Always great memories in Rincon.

  • Bob

    VV the best ever

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