Texas Living

Your Guide to Paddleboarding in Texas

By Peter Simek 8.13.20

Paddleboarding was the fastest-growing sport in the country a few years ago, and now we get to enjoy it all across Texas.

It’s not hard to see the reason behind the craze. It can be peaceful, exciting, a workout, romantic, or all of the above. It’s one of the few watersports you can enjoy year-round, since you don’t have to worry about actually getting in the water if you don’t want to (as long as you don’t fall in). And in Texas, with access to the Gulf and numerous lakes and rivers to enjoy, there are plenty of places to try paddleboarding.

Here’s a guide to getting out on the water and some of the best spots in Texas to explore.

Prep for Your Adventure

Paddleboards look a lot like surfboards only longer and thicker. That makes them more stable and easier to manage. You’ll want to get the right fit and the right equipment for your venture.

Stand-up paddleboard: The style you choose will depend on your size and skill, the type of venture you’re embarking on, and the weather and water conditions. Beginners err on the side of larger, sturdier boards. If you are renting a board, the shop will help fit you to the style of board appropriate for your journey.

Paddle: Like a cross between a canoe paddle and a kayak paddle, it has a long, teardrop-shaped head that looks like a scoop. To choose the right size, stand the paddle upright and raise your arm above your head. The paddle should reach your wrist.

Leash: This is a flexible cord that attaches your board to your ankle. If you fall down and if there is any amount of wind, you’ll be happy when your board doesn’t float away.

Personal flotation device: Chances are you’re going to fall in the water a few times your first time out. Even if you are a strong swimmer, keep in mind that your arms will be tired from paddling. It’s best to have a personal flotation device on to keep you safe.

Proper clothing: You’ll get plenty of sunshine as you paddle. Wear a brimmed hat, sunglasses, cool and light-fitting clothing or bathing attire, and plenty of sunscreen.

Safety whistle and light: Distances and sounds on the water can be deceiving. If you are caught out late, are far from shore, or have an accident, a whistle and a light will help you call for aid.

5 Best Paddleboarding Spots in Texas

There are great paddleboarding spots all over Texas — particularly on the state’s many lakes. Here are some of the most popular destinations, which feature a variety of conditions, experiences, and beautiful backdrops:

Lady Bird Lake: The epicenter of Texas paddleboarding, this popular spot features downtown Austin as a backdrop.

  • Best for: The paddleboarding experience mixed with vibrant city life.
  • Rent: Rowing Dock has a wide variety of stand-up paddleboards perfect for experts and newbies alike. Their rental price is $20 per hour or $45 for the whole day. The best part: They offer paddleboards with room for your dog to ride along!

Nichol’s Landing Paddling Trail: North of San Antonio, this 10-mile paddle down the Guadalupe River will take you past limestone bluffs and massive cypress trees. You’ll get the chance to spot armadillos, foxes, and deer along the banks.

  • Best for: A scenic float that will last you the better part of an afternoon.
  • Rent: Pick up a paddleboard rental from Austin Canoe and Kayak on your way to the trail. (Currently, their rentals are closed, but they hope to start renting again in September. Check back!)

Caddo Lake State Park: A paddleboard is the perfect way to explore this beautiful natural lake, bayou, and cypress tree forest.

  • Best for: Experienced paddleboarders who want a change of terrain — just watch out for gators.
  • Rent: BYOB (bring your own board!).

South Padre Island: Once you work up your skills, take your paddleboard into the Gulf and try surfing some waves along South Padre Island.

  • Best for: Finding plenty of surf.
  • Rent: You can rent paddleboards on the Laguna Madre Bay for $40 at Parrot Eyes.

Galveston Island: This is the perfect beginner’s spot. The surf never gets too high, although you may come up against some wind. You can get your sea legs by paddling around the whole island.

  • Best for: Paddleboarding lessons while catching beautiful views of the Gulf.
  • Rent: SUP Gulf Coast has two locations and will show you the ropes if it’s your first time.

Explore Texas’ beautiful lakes here.

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