Paddleboarding in Sarasota County

Whether novice or expert, there are numerous paddle boarding opportunities in Sarasota County. This leisure activity is a great way to exercise and see Sarasota County’s beautiful coast.

Whether standing up, lying down or kneeling on a board, finding one’s groove in the sport of coastal paddle boarding is an individualistic experience. Lovers of this form of leisure appreciate fresh air, saltwater and wildlife. Equipment rental companies and instructors abound throughout Sarasota County and nearby areas, offering board deliveries, outdoor tours and workshops for the most amateur to the more advanced athletes.

What is paddleboarding?

For those who have never tried it, paddle boarding is essentially a surface water sport that involves propelling oneself in a swimming motion with the arms while kneeling or lying down. Stand up paddle boarding requires moving in a surf-like pattern while using an assisting oar. Both activities are often done in the open ocean on boards (usually about 8- to 21-feet long) made of fiberglass, epoxy and carbon fiber.

The history of the sport dates back to the late 1920s with paddleboard pioneer Thomas Edward Blake who, while restoring historic Hawaiian boards, built a replica of an olo surfboard ridden by ancient Hawaiian kings. Stand up paddle boarding originated in Hawaii as an offshoot of surfing.

It makes sense that a waterfront community with a tropical climate like Sarasota County would adopt the Hawaii-inspired paddle boarding with such gusto. There is no shortage of companies ready to introduce locals and visitors to the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay by board. But because a new paddleboard can cost upwards of $1,500, renting is one of the most popular options.

Paddleboarding on Philippi Creek
Paddleboarding on Philippi Creek

Where to get paddleboards

Sarasota Paddleboard Company hosts light-emitting diode (LED) illuminated underwater tours in the Bay and Gulf, which leave before sunset and last two hours.

Siesta Key Paddleboards provides mobile, free equipment delivery, as well as complimentary instruction. This company hosts a Vamo Mangroves Tour of the passages and canals in Little Sarasota Bay, which is teeming with birds, fish, manatees and dolphins. There is a Parade of Homes Tour on the Gulf of Mexico, and a Vamo Road to Midnight Pass Tour across the Bay and through the mangrove canals to a quiet, secluded stretch of Siesta Beach.

Those looking to become stand up paddle boarding experts can enroll at SUP Sarasota Paddleboard Rentals’ SUP Academy, which is an 8-week training program that leads to participation in the annual Sarasota SUP Race Series. These races are held at Siesta Beach, Benderson Park and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. It is the ultimate aim of SUP Sarasota to make Sarasota County’s coastal waterways an international hub for paddle boarding.

Local paddle boarding resources