June 23, 2024
sup in san diego

Best Places to SUP in San Diego

Sometimes, the ocean is so flat that surfing, longboarding or even SUP surfing is not an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to flatwater SUP in San Diego.

In this article, I’ll share the best places to SUP in San Diego. That way, when the waves are down, you’ll still have something to do on the water. The best places to SUP in San Diego include Mission Bay, Coronado, and La Jolla Cove.

Read on to learn more about them and see the complete list to the top 5 best places to SUP in San Diego!

SUP in San Diego vs SUP Surfing in San Diego

To clarify, there is a different between flat water SUP and SUP surfing. Flat water SUP in San Diego will normally consist of bays, lagoons, harbors, or lakes. On the other hand, SUP surfing includes actual ocean coastline in open water where you attempt to SUP into a wave and surf it. I wrote a separate article on the best places for SUP surfing in San Diego here.

Otherwise, carry on below for my recommended best places for standard or flat water SUP in San Diego.

Top 5 Best Places to SUP in San Diego

There are lots of great places to SUP in San Diego. In fact, Men’s Journal called San Diego the best SUP city on earth! To help you make the most of your SUP experience in San Diego, I have curated a list of what I believe are the 5 best places to SUP in San Diego.

Mission Bay

The first spot on my list is Mission Bay. Mission Bay is an absolute must to see for paddle boarding in San Diego. In fact, Mission Bay includes many small bays and coves within it. My favorites are Sail Bay (an open bay with a wide beach) and Santa Barbara Cove (a gentle cove for honing your paddle strokes and learning balance).

sup san diego mission bay
Mission Bay is a prime place to stand up paddle board in San Diego

Overall, there’s a lot to see as you paddle board around Mission Bay including beaches, boats and restaurants. Actually, the coolest little beach bar is located in Mission Bay called Barefoot Bar & Grill. It’s located on an island in the middle of the bay so the only way to access it is by water. Simply paddle up to the beach and grab yourself a drink!

Mission Bay is easily my #1 spot to stand up paddle board in San Diego. Also, there are plenty of places for stand up paddle board rentals on Mission Bay.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is easily the most scenic paddle board spot in San Diego on this list. Once you get about 100 yards off the beach, look up and you will have great views of Mt Soledad and the surrounding sea caves. In fact, you can even paddle right up to the entrance of the sea caves.

stand up paddle board in san diego
Paddle boarding in La Jolla Cove

Another reason paddle boarding La Jolla Cove is great is the abundance of sea life. You will easily see many brightly colored fish in the reefs below the water. In the spring, it’s mating season for leopard sharks and literally thousands cover the bottom in this area.

While La Jolla Cove is open ocean, the coastline bluffs and coves shelter this area, so it basically is a flat-water paddle boarding spot in San Diego. There are also plenty of places to rent paddle boards in La Jolla and even scenic tours!

Coronado Island – Tidelands Park

Coronado Island is another beauty of a place to stand up paddle board in San Diego. To get here, simply drive across the Coronado Bridge to Tidelands Park. From here, there is a large parking lot and a sandy beach to launch your SUP into the bay.

Stand up paddling boarding around Coronado bay is an experience for sure. You can paddle board along the Coronado island coastline, under the Coronado bridge and even to the Hotel Del.

sup in san diego
Coronado Bay is another top spot to SUP in San Diego

Carlsbad Lagoon (Agua Hedionda Lagoon)

For those of you living or visiting North County San Diego, the Carlsbad Lagoon is the best place for calm stand up paddle boarding in Northern San Diego.

Carlsbad Lagoon is a calm body of water for stand up paddle boarding around a scenic area in Carlsbad. Once you get past the first section (which can get a little choppy due to boating), the back of the lagoon really opens up to calmer waters. Once in the back of the lagoon, there are also various small beaches you will be able to paddle ashore to hangout or take a short walk around the lagoon.

Rentals are also available at Carlsbad Lagoon.

Shelter Island – Shoreline Park

Shelter Island is located on the other side of Coronado Bay. From here, you will have sweeping views of the bay, San Diego skyline and even planes flying in and out from the airport.

Furthermore, you can paddle along the mile-long scenic Shoreline Park. Shelter Island does a good job rounding out my top 5 best places to stand up paddle board in San Diego.

Honorable Mention Places to Stand Up Paddle Board in San Diego

Now that you’ve seen my top 5 places to SUP in San Diego, there are a few other noteworthy paddle board spots worth mentioning.

Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals in San Diego

As you can imagine, stand up paddle boards are large, expensive and not easy to transport. For those of you that do not have your own SUP, there are plenty of stand up paddle board rentals in San Diego. Fortunately, these SUP rental locations are all conveniently located near the top SUP spots in San Diego.

For example, Mission Bay has numerous stand up paddle board rental shops. Namely, Mission Bay Aquatic Center is a favorite. La Jolla Cove also has a ton of rental shops including Everyday California, among others. Finally, if you are in North County; there is also numerous stand up paddle board rentals in San Diego North County. Here are some of my favorite surf shops in Encinitas.

If you purchase your own, I always suggest purchasing a hybrid SUP that allows you to SUP both flat water and enjoy SUP surfing. ISLE SUP is my favorite local brand. I recommend their Cruiser model.

Alternatively, if you are seeking an SUP that is easier to pack and transport, and also more affordable; consider this inflatable SUP below.

All in all, find yourself a good SUP and enjoy the many SUP spots in San Diego! To get more tips on surfing or SUP surfing in Diego, subscribe for the latest wave info below:

sup in san diego
Enjoy SUPing in San Diego 🙂


  • Gavin Bechtold

    Gavin has been living and surfing in San Diego for over a decade. He loves the ocean and is lucky to call San Diego home. Frustrated with mainstream reviews, he set out to create the best source of surf reviews for San Diego beaches. Check the About page for more info!