Can You Paddle Board In The Ocean?

This post may contain affiliate links. Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the editorial team.

For thousands of years, people have been using different variations of paddle boarding in the ocean for fishing, traveling, and as a sporting activity for fun. Stand-up paddling, or SUP, is now a modern-day water sport that first gained popularity in the Hawaiian Islands alongside surfing.

Today, rivers and lakes remain the most popular bodies of water for people to enjoy this sport, most likely because they still might be asking themselves the question: Can I paddleboard in the ocean? Yes! And in fact, I was just ocean paddle boarding in Belize two weeks ago!

The short answer to this question is, yes, you can paddle board in the ocean!

Water enthusiasts love paddling in lakes, rivers, and oceans. And those who had never experienced before are joining in the fun at a rapid pace. In addition to this, the benefits of paddle boarding are exceptional, offering a healthy regime for the mind, body, and soul.

It’s obvious as an exercise, but it can also offer mental clarity. What can be better than the calming ocean for removing stress? So, take a closer look at how ocean paddle boarding can benefit you and your lifestyle.

Beachgoers everywhere would no doubt begin to take on this sport more actively in they knew that they could paddleboard not only in lakes and rivers but also in the ocean. Let’s discuss some crucial information before you begin.

1. How to paddle board in the ocean?

  • Stand up and find your balance without bending your knees too much.
  • Use your body’s core and not your arms alone to paddle, as this will wear you out faster.
  • Paddle into the water and stroke away from the board while pulling in through the water toward your SUP.
  • Paddle close to the board so you can steer it properly, making a zig-zag pattern across the water along the sides of your SUP.
  • Occasionally, switch opposite sides of your hands’ position on the paddle.
  • Paddle perpendicular to the surface of the water and avoid holding in diagonally, while keeping a tight hold on the paddle with one hand and the SUP paddle shaft with the other.
  • To make a turn, angle the blade away from you as you stroke sideways into the water.
  • Switch your hand positioning of the paddle whenever you need to rest your hands and arms so that you can do the same steps in reverse.

2. What safety precautions should be taken for paddling in the ocean?

Choose the right board and the best time to paddle in the ocean for your first trip. Make sure there isn’t a strong current, there isn’t too much going on, there isn’t a chance that you’ll get in the way of surfers and swimmers.

Water shoes are not necessary but wearing a life vest is, as well as using a leash to attach to your board. Make sure you are standing facing the correct end of the board and looking at the horizon, and not down at the board.

Keeping your eye on the direction of the wind is also important so you don’t get swept away in the wrong direction. And finally, ask for help if you need it. It’s better to be safe at all times than sorry at any time.

3. Is a rocker tip or pointed bow better in the ocean?

Paddleboards made for racing, as well as Touring SUPs, are downwind boards with pointed bows made for optimum operation best in the ocean. Their pointed noses, or bows, are located on the front end of the board, making them better than the rocker-tipped boards for ocean use.

Pointed bow boards also have rounded, “displacement” hulls, which not only resemble a kayak but are meant to similarly operate like kayaks. On average they can range between 12’6 to 14 feet long which makes them very efficient when it comes to maneuvering on the ocean and being able to handle all the conditions this body of water can offer. Also, the pointed bow will allow its paddler to navigate longer distances while exerting less energy and effort.

4. Can you paddle board in waves?

Ride only the waves you can handle and be prepared to fall correctly so you don’t injure yourself. Timing your paddle stroke with the waves, balance, your foot position, and the board you’re using will all assist you in navigating the waves. Also, keep in mind that you should cut through each wave instead of letting them smash the sides of your board.

Just like surfing, it’s possible to effectively paddleboard in waves. With enough experience, by using your paddle you’ll be able to push and maneuver your way up, over, and through most waves without taking a plunge.

5. Best SUP For the ocean?

Epoxy Touring boards are made for shallow water in the open ocean compared to inflatable boards. The Touring hard boards have a pointy nose which is helpful when paddling against chop, again, not an inflatable board’s main strength.

In addition, they are ideal for paddling in the ocean because they provide sturdiness, excellent speed and, confidence while gliding on the ocean which is why it deserves the first prize for the best paddleboard.

Paddling conditions can change rapidly on the water which is why soft, inflatable boards are best suited for lakes and rivers. But if the inflatable SUP is sturdy enough to use it on the ocean, and you’re experienced enough to use one, go for it.

6. What’s the difference between Lake Paddle Boarding vs. Ocean Paddle Boarding?

You should first understand that although ocean paddling in the ocean is fun it is slightly different from boarding in the calmer waters of a lake. And the difference between paddle boarding in these different bodies of water begins with selecting the best type of board to use.

Lakes may have fast-moving currents and whitewater conditions similar to those of the ocean, but they’re shallow and slow, allowing for a more relaxed and scenic paddle than you would find on the ocean.

Low tides create the largest waves, so it’s best to avoid currents when you’re new to paddling in the ocean, which is why people, especially beginners, tend to prefer potentially calmer lakes rather than oceans when participating in the sport.

7. Can I use an inflatable SUP in the ocean?

Plastic inflatable paddleboards are not well suited for the ocean, however, if you decide to use one the ocean should be calm. Finding a calm location where you can paddle along sheltered and hidden bays, would be best especially for a beginner.

So even though it’s possible to use an inflatable paddleboard in the ocean, beware of deep, strong water. Paddling in the rough waters of the ocean is something you want from a board that is up to the challenge.

So, yes, paddle boarding in the ocean makes for great fun. It can also be a soothing experience, as well as a great exercise for the entire body. Join in on its history, its fun, and the view of the horizon while you’re at it!

Photo of author
I've been paddling boarding for 10+ years and go out every weekend. I'm nerdy at heart and love understanding construction methods and handling dynamics of all types of boards to help people find their perfect board!