Why the Choctawhatchee Bay is the best place for beginner paddleboarders

SUP! Maybe you’ve seen people that appear to be walking on water as you come across the mid-bay bridge. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try standup paddleboarding. Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place!

Many locals own their paddleboards, and it’s no surprise. Several locally owned and operated paddleboard brands have cropped up in the area. And it’s not uncommon to see people fishing on their boards or doing paddleboard yoga. One thing’s for certain: paddleboarding has permeated the culture. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Destin, you may be wondering how to get in on the fun. Let’s explore.

Bay is Best

The Choctawhatchee (chock-tuh-hatch-e) Bay is the best place for beginner paddleboarders to learn because simply put, it’s a smoother, safer way to enjoy the ride. The bay provides an alcove that isn’t disrupted by large waves making it an easy experience to get comfortable on your board.

In addition to its calm, flat waters, there are no strong currents in the bay working against your best paddling efforts. Winds and currents in the Gulf of Mexico have the potential to push you in unwanted directions. For a beginner, this can be a nuisance at best creating extra work to get back to your starting point, or dangerous at worst if you get pulled out into the deepest blue with no knowledge of how to exit a rip current. Whether in the bay or gulf, it’s a good rule of thumb to use the buddy system. It’s much more fun and reassuring to paddle with a friend.

Choctawhatchee Bay is smooth, clear as glass, and shallow to boot, making it easy to see what’s below. And if (when) you fall off your board, you’re not left vulnerable in deep, open water. You can choose to stay close to shore where you can easily touch the bottom.

That’s what most younger species of marine life do! The bay often serves as a nursery for dolphins and their newborns, allowing you to witness the miracle of life. Other species like crabs and small redfish hang out in the bay to avoid large predators. Pelicans often sit on the docks of the bay waiting to spot their next catch. You may even witness an osprey nose-diving into the water to catch fish for a truly exhilarating experience.

Ready to Join the Fun?

Destin Paddle Company provides paddleboard rentals and instruction from the sandy beach behind LuLu’s Restaurant on the banks of the Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin. Spend a little time on the water after a great meal at LuLu’s or work up an appetite beforehand. The shallow and calm waters behind LuLu’s offer the perfect environment to get your feet wet and see why the locals are in love with the sport.

Paddleboarding is safe and easy for both children and adults, and in the bay, you can bring the whole family out on the water for a memorable—and safe! — experience.


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