Stand Up Paddleboarding Facts, Rules and Regulations

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and SUP Yoga are incredibly popular fitness trends. In recent years, paddleboarding has become a rapidly growing sport for surfers who enjoy using a long board to catch waves in the ocean. As a leisure activity, paddleboarding is great for exploring areas of rivers and waterways that may be more difficult to navigate by boat. SUP Yoga takes balance and meditation to a whole new level, increasing your core work out and refining your pose techniques in a tranquil, fresh-air environment.

Whether you’re a paddleboarding pro or a novice who is interested in learning, here are some important facts, rules and regulations that will help you enjoy your SUP safely while having a great time.

Paddleboarding in Open Water

According to the World Paddle Association, the United States Coast Guard has classified paddleboards as a vessel, which means the newly classified vessels must comply with federal Navigation Rules and requirements when operated beyond the limits of a swimming, surfing, or bathing area. This means that a paddleboarder outside of these limits is required to carry (over age 12) or wear (under age 12) a personal flotation device (PFD), and have a whistle and a flashlight to safely signal other vessels to their presence when necessary. It is imperative that all paddleboarders outside the surf zone be aware of the rules of the water.

Paddleboarding in Designated Areas

For those who will be paddleboarding inside swimming, surfing, or bathing areas, it is important to follow posted instructions or speak with a lifeguard to know the safe paddleboarding zones. Inside these designated areas, paddleboarders are not subject to Coast Guard regulations, but do have to be more careful of swimmers and other water activity enthusiasts.

Fines and Penalties

Fines and penalties vary both across the country and depending on which zone a paddleboarder is in when a violation occurs. Since this is a newly regulated sport, the rules are being updated regularly. It is important for paddleboarders to stay up-to-date with any changes to the rules. Beginners or vacationers who want rent paddleboards should make sure to ask for a list of SUP requirements along with the rental agreement, and they should ask about designated areas in the vicinity (guided tours are often available to add to a rental package). A paddleboard is the most vulnerable vessel on the water; fines and penalties are put into place to enforce the rules and regulations created to keep paddleboarders safe so they can enjoy their excursion without harm or injury.

Using the Right Equipment

In addition to safety gear and knowledge, a paddleboarder must choose the right stand up paddleboard and paddle based on weight, experience, and the conditions in which the SUP is used. Paddles have an angle in the shaft for maximum paddling efficiency, and it is best to choose a paddle that is at least six inches taller than you are, and some manufacturers recommend ten inches taller than your height. Do your research before you buy! Useful sporting goods sites like offer great resources from experts to highlight the important things to look for when shopping for the perfect SUP. In addition to proper safety gear (including jackets, whistles, and flashlights), the 1NTOW Swim Buddy by Nekdoodle® is a great piece of equipment to take on SUP adventures for pulling over and taking a break to snorkel, float around in the water or use as extra padding for paddleboarders who like to paddle on their knees. It makes a great cushion for seated or inverted yoga poses.

Like all water activities, stand up paddleboarding can be a fun experience if you follow a few important safety rules and regulations. If you are interested in paddleboarding or clubs and events in your area, check out or more information. And check out your local Yoga Studio to see if they offer SUP classes.

Do you have any tips, rules or guidelines to add? We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook or Twitter page!