Active Traveler: Top Paddleboarding Spots

It's not quite surfing, not quite kayaking. It's paddleboarding, and this water sport is riding the wave to the top of Cape Cod's most beloved pastimes. Also known as SUP or Stand Up Paddling, paddleboarding – thought to have roots deep in Polynesian history - has become a fixture on the Cape Cod summer scene.  

It’s not hard to find a paddleboard rental shop on the Cape, many of which also offer lessons and guided tours of the region’s beautiful waterways (we especially love the full moon paddle tours, complete with illuminated boards).  Staff at these shops are always happy to suggest the best places to launch your board, but we also asked two of our resident paddleboard experts to share their favorite spots, and to weigh in on why paddleboarding is a must-try for any visitor or local.

“There are so many beautiful places to go around Cape Cod by water, it's hard to choose!” said Justin Labdon of Adventure Chatham Outfitters. “For the casual new/beginner paddler, the Cape's many kettle ponds are tough to beat.  The water is warm, they don't get the crowds found at ocean beaches, there is no current and you can always find a shoreline with shelter from the afternoon southwest breeze.”

Justin said his favorite spot to paddleboard is Chatham Harbor.  “There are a few landings that you can start from and then paddle across to the barrier beach,” he explained. “ Paddling back, you go around Tern Island, buzz the Chatham Fish Pier, and return to your car.  You see many commercial fishing vessels, yachts, the lighthouse on the bluff, beautiful mansions and the Chatham Bars Inn.  You do also see many seals.”

When asked about the growing popularity of paddleboarding on Cape Cod, Justin points to the fact that it is a water sport that can be fun and accessible for any age. “We have given lessons to 6 year olds and 80 year olds, and they can all do it,” he said. “This makes it great for families.”

Ryan Hewson, Chief Ambassador of Aloha at MOCEAN in Mashpee, shares Justin’s passion for paddleboarding.

“We have surf, we have kettle ponds, we have inlets and harbors, we have amazing scenic coastline,” Ryan said, adding that “some of the best casual paddling in the country can be done here on Cape Cod. SUP gives participants at any age or any level the ability to get out and enjoy the water at their own laid back pace.  No hurries. No worries."

Hewson added that paddling is an “amazing fitness workout disguised as fun,” with people using all of their muscle groups in the full-body workout.

Where does Ryan recommend enjoying a day of peaceful yet exhilarating paddleboarding?  No surprise, they are some of the spots not easily accessible by cars or even boats.

“The nature over at Washburn Island in Waquoit is amazing, and the shallow, warm waters are great for paddlers of all levels,” he said. “Then there is the Popponesset Spit (in Mashpee), West Falmouth Harbor, Red Brook Harbor out to Bassetts Island (both in
Cataumet) and the 5.5 mile loop around Grand Island that tours through all 3 bays of Osterville and Cotuit.”

So….what are you waiting for? Start paddling and happy travels!

If You Go:
Adventure Chatham – 1150 Queen Anne Road, East Harwich
MOCEAN – 34 Steeple St., Mashpee
Stand Up and Paddle Cape Cod – 15 West Bay Rd., Suite H, Osterville
Rideaway Kayak & SUP – 449 Rt. 6A, Sandwich
Venture Athletics Water Sports – 237 Commercial Street, Provincetown