Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

Everywhere you look, if you’re near water or know someone that lives near water, you’ve probably heard of stand-up paddle boards. The sport is booming, and that’s an understatement.

If you’re a beginner, you’re going to find a lot of information, and that can be pretty overwhelming, right? We get that. There’s a lot to take in!

Because we understand that you need to have that information narrowed down and condensed, we’ve created a quick guide for you as well as a list of some of the best paddle boards for beginners.

After all, you’ve got to know what you’re looking for before you buy it so you won’t feel like you’re throwing your hard-earned money away.

Before Selecting Your Paddle Board

You’ve got a few things to think about before going out and choosing which paddle board you want to buy. Specifically, you’ll want to consider flotation and stability, the way you plan to use your paddle board, and any accessories that you might want or need when you go out on the water. Don’t forget to also think about your budgetary constraints because paddle boards can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Stability and Flotation G​​​​uidelines

Not to oversimplify, but you’re going to need a stable board. That may seem like a no-brainer, but not all paddle boards are created equal. The best paddle boards are going to offer stability due to their size as well as their width.

Ideally, you’re going to want to go with something between 10-12 feet long and at least 30 inches wide. You’ll find inflatable paddle boards, as an example, that fit the length, but may only be 26 inches wide. Those four inches really do make a difference for a beginner, so remember, wider is better, but not so wide that the board is difficult to handle.

You’ll also want to check the weight limits of the board you’re looking at because putting too much weight on a paddle board makes a difference in stability. Certain boards flex some in the middle with too much weight, and that can cause you to feel unbalanced while you’re standing on it.

Something else to remember is if you’re on the taller side, you’re going to want to opt for a longer board for increased stability. Too short, and you’re more likely to fall overboard.

Usage Guidelines

One of the biggest questions you’ll need to answer is how you plan to use your board. Do you want a solid or inflatable paddle board? How far will you have to carry your board? What do you want to use your paddle board for?

These are all questions you’ll need to answer before you pick your board. To start with, compare the features between a solid, hard paddle board and an inflatable paddle board.

Solid Paddle Boards

  • Performance is best on a solid board
  • Solid boards are best if you want to paddle fast quickly
  • A greater variety of sizes
  • Takes up more storage space
  • Requires a way to transport, usually via a roof rack
  • Tends to be more expensive

Inflatable Paddle Boards

  • Great for limited storage space
  • Compact design is ideal for traveling
  • Handles hard bumps against rocky surfaces better
  • Softer than hard boards so can be better for yoga
  • Tends to be less expensive

Once you’ve got the basics down for the differences between solid and inflatable boards, you’re going to want to also think about your board’s intended use. Beginners are best suited to consider choosing between racing and touring paddle boards or all-around paddle boards. They aren’t the only options, but they’re the ones that novices can get the most use out of up front.

Racing or touring paddle boards are designed to be more efficient in the water, so that means that you’ll be gliding through the water with less effort on your part. These also tend to be around 14’ long at the most, and average at just over 12’ in length. It is also more on the narrow side of paddle boards.

All-around boards are likely to be the best paddle boards for newbies, mainly because they tend to be wider and a good starter size between 10’ and 12’ long. A board this size is perfect for fishing, flat water paddling, as well as doing paddle board yoga.

Accessories for Your Paddle Board

Depending on the paddle board you choose, you’ll also see a variety of accessories available for SUPs. Some accessories that you’ll find include the paddle, a pump for inflatables, carry bags, bungee cords, handles, and possibly a few other items. More accessories mean a higher cost, so you’ll want to think about what your priority is when it comes to the boards you choose.

If you prefer, you can also purchase accessories separately from the board after doing some research to figure out what is high on the list for the best ones. Here are a few suggestions for some things to look for in accessories.

A watertight phone or electronic device protector bag can come in handy, so you have a place to put your phone. If you ever foresee yourself paddling at night, you may be interested to know that there are lights you can add to your board so that others will see you.

Also, while most paddle boards will come with a paddle, most of the paddles tend to be heavy and not exactly user-friendly. Chances are that you’ll want to consider upgrading to a different paddle if you want to use your paddle board regularly.

Getting to Know the Differences Between Boards

Remember, not all boards are the same, and to make an educated decision, there is a bit more to deciding on the specific paddle board that will fit your needs.


Consider the thickness of the board because a thicker board means an increase in volume. For a larger, heavier individual, a thicker board is better. If you’re more petite or looking for a paddle board for a child, then a thinner board is going to be the best choice.


Longer boards tend to be faster than shorter boards, but a shorter board is easier to use, especially for a beginner. A board that is longer also tends to be able to hold more on the board like you, your gear, and possibly your dog.


Wider boards are more stable, but a wider surface is also more likely to be on the slower side. If you’re a beginner, a wide board is a better choice, but don’t go too broad because you can end up making it difficult for you to paddle.


Fins are a good thing and add to the overall stability of the board. Larger fins are more stable than smaller fins, but smaller fins make for easier maneuvering of your board. You’ll find paddle boards in these different fin configurations.

  • 2+1 fins – this configuration has a single large fin in the center with two smaller fins, one on each side.
  • 3 fins – this configuration will have three fins that are all approximately the same size and sets you up for good control on both flatwater and choppy waters.
  • Single fin – most paddle boards have at least a single fin which improves drag and maneuverability.

Hull Types

There are generally two types of hulls – the planing hull and the displacement hull. A planing hull is completely flat and will remind you of a surfboard. A paddle board with a planing hull is best for yoga, flat water paddling, and even surfing.

A displacement hull will remind you of the way the front of a kayak looks. It has a pointed bow, or nose, that is designed to cut through the water. That means that the paddle board moves faster and it requires less work from you. These are good choices if you’re looking to get into paddling for fitness or racing.

Choosing the Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

Now that you’ve got some education on paddle boards behind you, here are some of the best paddle boards that you can find.

ISLE Soft Top Foam Stand Up Paddle Board

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This hard paddle board is available in multiple designs and is a great choice if you have the space to store it. Made for flat water, it also performs well on smaller waves if that’s what you want. At 10’8” long and a weight capacity of 275 pounds, this one of definitely one of the best paddle boards for beginners.

Roc Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards

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If you’re looking for a hard board that will make a statement, the Inflatable is an excellent board for you. It is stable as well as lightweight. It also comes in multiple sizes 10 Feet long by 33 inches wide and 6 inches thick to accommodate different sized paddlers. It will work well on both light surf and flat water.

Boardworks Muse Stand Up Paddle Board

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The Muse from Boardworks  a fantastic choice in solid boards as it is designed as an all-around paddle board. It is a bit heavier, but at 10’6,” the length is spot on for someone just getting used to working with a paddle board.

Peak Stand-Up Paddle Board (plus Accessory Kit)

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The Peak SUP is an excellent choice in inflatable boards because not only is it lightweight at 19.5 pounds, but it also has a weight capacity of 350 pounds when inflated to the recommended psi. It is made of military-grade PVC and is a full 6-inches thick. It also rolls up into a very compact package you can easily carry on your back.

Pelican Antigua Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

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If you’re in the market for an inflatable paddle board that is a little less expensive, then the Pelican Antigua is a great option for you. Not only is it wide enough to be very stable on the water, but it also comes with a pump, a bag, and a paddle, which is enough to get you started.

A Few Last Words on the Best Paddle Boards

You’ll find paddle boards that cover a vast range when it comes to what you can expect to pay. There will be inflatable boards as low as a couple hundred dollars and solid boards that can run you several thousand dollars.

Regardless of what board you choose, you’ll find quality in every budget range, but you’ll have to know where to go and what to look for. If you start with the ones mentioned above, you can’t go wrong in picking one of the best paddle boards for your needs and your budget.

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