Best Place To Stand Up Paddle Board in Santa Cruz

Do you want to know where to paddle board in Santa Cruz? There are several nice places with flat and calm waters. You know this is just the thing you need to enjoy paddle boarding.

In another article, we saw several places where you can paddle board in San Diego, good, incredible places.

Santa Cruz, which is in California, offers many other sightseeing joys. You can never have a boring moment there. But like many places in this state, it is mostly known for water sports.

Even if you are hearing about paddle boarding for the first time, or this is your first time attempting to try it, don’t worry. It is so easy to do. You can learn it in a few lessons and be on your way making your feet wet.

If you are an experienced SUP enthusiast, rent a paddle board and hit the water. You will thoroughly enjoy your time.

But to have fun, you need to choose the best places to stand up paddle board. Here are a select few of them, and some are also top destinations for winter SUP in the USA.

Best places for paddle boarding in Santa Cruz

You can visit Santa Cruz anytime of the year apart from winter. Summer is crowded but spring and fall are wonderful times to visit.

The weather is quite warm in fall and the waters and beaches of Santa Cruz are not too crowded. It is safe to paddleboard in the winter in Santa Cruz.

Once you get there and would like to enjoy a full body workout with stand up paddle boarding, try any of the following places:

Also read: How to make SUP Paddle float

Capitola Beach: Best place to paddle board in Santa Cruz

Image of best place to paddle board in Santa Cruz

The joy of paddle boarding in Capitola Beach in Santa Cruz is that you can access many isolated islands that you would otherwise not access.

You must go to the Napali Coast of Capitola. It is located way past Capitola Wharf. The waters are calm and flat so even with minimal paddle boarding experience, you will have a great time.

You can also find SUP rentals and training at Capitola Beach. Some of the SUP companies on the beach will train you on how to paddle board any time of the year.

Cowell Beach

This is one of the most popular beaches in Santa Cruz. Thus, if you go there during spring or summer, expect to share the water with kayaks, canoes and people swimming in the ocean.

Don’t mind the kayakers though. They might look more fly, but SUP offers a full body workout!

If you get lucky, you can even catch sight of a whale or two, but it depends on the time of the year. You can also see seals sunning themselves close to the beach.

Because of the flat and calm waters of this place, you can enjoy a great time even with minimal stand up paddling experience.

Soquel Creek: Paddle board in a river

Sometimes, you just want to keep away from the ocean and paddle board in a river setting. As the name suggests, Soquel is a creek, but it has calm and flat water.

You can have a lot of fun on this creek as you will pass under the Stockton Bridge, which makes a nice backdrop for a photo.

If you continue paddling up the creek, you will eventually get to the Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Santa Cruz Harbor: Where to paddle board in Santa Cruz

If you are a paddle boarding beginner, you will have fun on the Santa Cruz harbor, especially because the water is calm and flat.

Image of Santa Cruz Harbor paddle boarding

Another good thing that makes it good for beginners is that this is a harbor, so you will always be in sight of people at the harbor. There are always many boats breaking the monotony of the water.

If you are an experienced paddle boarder, you can get out of the comfort and safety of the harbor area and get into the ocean at Monterey Bay. If you are a beginner, stay in the safety of the harbor area.

New Brighton State Beach

Most beach goers in Santa Cruz ask: Can you paddle board in New Brighton? A long time ago, New Brighton Beach was called China Beach.

This was because of a 19th Century Chinese fishing community that had settled there. This lovely cove is sheltered from winds, so the water does not whip up waves.

The water generally keeps flat and calm all the time, enabling you to paddle board safely even when you don’t have too much experience.

Also read: Inflatable vs solid paddle board

Close to the beach, there are campgrounds for tents and RV camping, so it will probably be too crowded in summer. However, you can try fall because the weather is warm, and the beaches are not crowded.

If you paddle out to the kelp beds, you can see different types of fish and other sea animals.

Twin Lakes State Beach

This is one of the most serene beaches in Santa Cruz. You are going to have an enjoyable time swimming, paddle boarding and other water sports on the sheltered lake.

Twin Lakes is located between the Santa Cruz Harbor and Schwan Lake Park. If you get tired of paddle boarding on this lake, go to the Schwan Lake Park to watch birds, hike and enjoy serenity.

Image of Twin Lake State Beach

While the Twin Lakes State Beach is about a mile long, it still offers quite a lot. There are picnic tables, so you can break bread with your family.

You can also swim in the clean water. Other amenities on the beach include public restrooms and outdoor showers.

Rio del Mar State Beach

If you would like to catch sights of whales, birds and have a great time fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding, Rio del Mar State Beach is the place where you want to be. The water also whips some good waves for surfing.

This is a popular beach, so it is crowded during summer. The locals also go to the beach to enjoy whale watching, playing beach volleyball and doing other fun activities.


Santa Cruz has many other beaches where you can have fun catching the sun. Most of them such as the Natural Bridges State Beach are postcard perfect. However, it has rip currents, so it is not safe to swim or paddle board on the water.

DavenPort Beach has a lot of sand, but the coastline is quite wild. You cannot swim or paddle board in the water because of the wild swells of the ocean.

Four Mile Beach is wild and very beautiful. It is not safe to paddle board or surfboard there because the ocean has these large swells.

For the best stand up paddle boarding in Santa Cruz, just try any of the beaches that we have mentioned above.

When you get to Santa Cruz, be sure to check out the SUP Shack for different types of rentals, including paddle boards. They also offer SUP lessons.

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