Stand Up Paddleboarding Tips for Beginners


first5So you got yourself a stand-up paddleboard. Awesome! Welcome to the paddling family. Here in northern Nevada, we’re a friendly little community connected by our mutual love of standing on water. And since you’re new to this, we’re going to help you out. Here’s a rundown on the gear, the best local places to take that shiny new board, SUP etiquette and tips for transportation.


Basic SUP Gear

Besides the new board and a paddle, you’re going to need a few things. If you’re paddling Tahoe – and you should – you’ll need a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). The U.S. Coast Guard classifies SUPs as “vessels,” and that means they’re subject to all federal boating laws. At Tahoe, the workaround to this law is that you don’t actually have to wear the vest – it can be strapped or otherwise attached to the board (unless you’re under 13 – then it’s mandatory to wear it). But be smart. Tahoe is a cold lake, no matter how warm the day is, and if you fall in the water, you have just a few minutes to self-rescue. That’s also why you should consider a leash – it’ll keep you tethered to your board (and vest if you’re not wearing it) if you end up in the drink.


There are tons of paddling clothes to be had, but the basics are all you really need if you’re just going out for an easy paddle. Throw on swim trunks or a suit, a top with SPF to protect your shoulders, sunglasses and a hat, and you’re good to go.  And don’t forget to bring water to rehydrate.


Where to Go

How lucky are we to have Lake Tahoe right in our own backyard? There are tons of great beaches for the maiden voyage on your new board:


    • tahoe river roverKings Beach, annual host of the Ta-hoe Nalu, has a decent amount of paid parking ($10) and an instantly accessible shoreline. Head out to the left and around Speedboat Beach into Crystal Bay.


    • Sand Harbor is gorgeous, but get there early! Lots of paid parking ($7) but you can be in for a bit of a hike from your parking spot. Paddlers are limited to the boat launch beach or the far left of the main public beach.


    • Meeks Bay is ten miles south of Tahoe City next to a big campground. It’s a great beach with a standard day use fee.


  • El Dorado Beach on South Shore, home of the annual Race the Lake of the Sky, is another great launch site.


SUP Etiquette

It’s pretty simple – SUP etiquette on our local lakes can be summed up by the notion of being courteous. These boards are big and cumbersome off the water, so be aware of what you’re doing when you’re hauling them to and from the car. On the water, steer clear of swimmers and people playing in the shallows. And make sure boaters are fully aware of you at all times.  Pretty basic stuff.



Few folks have a ride big enough for the board to be inside, which means it’s likely going on the roof. Keep it safe with a sock or padded board bag, and remember these tips:


  • – Fins go up. Always. Otherwise, you have what amounts to a huge sail right on top of your car.
  • – Use nose and tail tie-downs to attach the board to solid points on the front and back of your car. Twisting your straps will reduce buzzing vibrations caused by the wind.
  • – If you don’t have crossbars or some kind of rack on the top of your car, use foam blocks or rolled up beach towels to cushion your board. Make sure it’s evenly placed on the blocks or towels so that it isn’t tipping up or down.
  • – Tighten the straps enough that you’re keeping the board in place but not with so much force that you’re damaging its outer surface.
  • – Tuck the straps inside the car (or wrap them around the crossbar) so they aren’t blowing in the wind.


That’s it! Check back soon for another post that walks you through the intricacies of transporting your stand-up paddleboard, and we’ll see you on the water.


6 responses to “Stand Up Paddleboarding Tips for Beginners

  1. I want to buy an inflatable SUP for myself and Golden Retriever Sophie. What would be the perfect fit?

    1. Hi Jeff a small dry pack would work best attached with a bungee system through our drain holes.

  2. I have been really wanting to try paddle boarding. However, I don’t think I could fit one in my car. So, I liked that you talked about how to attach one safely to a car’s roof. It does seem like a good idea to know how to do that without it coming off.

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