Paddleboarding is one of the fastest-growing water activities and it’s no surprise why. A fun and easy way to explore the ocean, paddleboarding allows visitors to see the Gulf from a whole new perspective.

As with any other water activity, safety is first! Make sure to get the right gear for your skill level and for the environment you’ll be paddling in. Calm, clear waters in our bays, and along our stretch of Gulf of Mexico shoreline make Destin- Fort Walton Beach a wonderful place to get started.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when heading out on your board:

Find Calm Waters

While riding big waves may look fun (and the professionals make it look easy), it’s important for beginners to start out in calm waters where they can find their bearings. Before heading out, check for good weather and look for smooth, still waters, like the bay over the Gulf. It’s also important to make sure that you will have plenty of room to maneuver around—for your and everybody else’s safety. Paddleboarding too close to others may create waves that might be difficult for beginners to handle.  

Find Balance

Much like surfing, balance is very important when paddleboarding. Standing up on the board can be quite a feat if you’ve never done this before so start on your knees to find your line of balance. Once you feel comfortable on the board and are ready to start paddling, engage your core and keep your head up. Often, beginners rely on their arm strength to paddle, but to achieve maximum stability paddleboarders must maintain good body posture by using their core muscles and looking straight ahead.   

Another mistake beginners often make is paddling to one side only. Finding a good balance between strokes is the best way to stay steady and go far. Alternate sides after one or two strokes and you’ll be off exploring in no time!

Find Fun

Once you’re ready to stand up, use your paddle for support and slowly, stand up with one foot at a time. Stay in the middle of the board with your feet about shoulder-width apart and keep a slight bend in the knees. It’s important to remember to not lock your knees. The board should feel comfortable and stable when standing up. If after a few tries, it still feels too unstable, try a larger, wider paddleboard.

You will most likely fall a few times—it happens to seasoned veterans too! But if you know how to fall, you’ll be fine. If you feel yourself losing your balance, fall away from your board. Falling well clear of the board will let you fall gracefully into the water without hitting the board or the fins, saving you from unnecessary injuries.

As you get better on your paddleboard, the more you can do on it, like fishing or looking for sand dollars. Enjoy!