Stand Up Paddle Boards

Ocean Vs Lake Paddle Boarding: Guide on Key Differences

Ocean Vs Lake Paddle Boarding: Guide on Key Differences

Paddle boarding has become an increasingly popular water sport that can be done on many water surfaces. But can you paddle board in the ocean? Absolutely! While both environments provide an exhilarating paddle boarding experience, there are significant differences between ocean and lake paddle boarding that every enthusiast should know. This guide will discuss the significant differences between the two and provide tips to stay safe while paddle boarding. We will also recommend the best paddle boards for oceans and lakes and suggest some must-see locations.

This guide is your go-to for diving into the exciting differences between ocean and lake paddle boarding! We'll share essential safety tips, recommend the top paddle boards for each environment, and highlight some must-visit spots for your next adventure.

Ocean vs Lake Paddle boarding: What's the Difference?

Before finding out the answer to “Can you paddle board in the ocean,” let’s talk about the difference between ocean and lake paddle boarding in case you are a newcomer to this sport game.

Paddle boarding in the ocean and lake differ in terms of water conditions:

  • Lakes offer calm waters that are better suited for beginners and SUP YOGA, while the sea presents unpredictable conditions due to strong currents and tides.
  • Ocean paddle boarding is more challenging and requires more experience. When paddle boarding on the ocean, you must be careful of changing wave strengths and murky waters.

On the other hand, lake paddling is relatively safe, except during stormy conditions or heavy winds. In summary, paddle boarding on a lake is a better choice if you're a beginner.

Paddle boarding on the Ocean

Either way, ocean paddle boarding offers a distinct experience that can't be matched when paddle boarding on a lake, pond, or river. If you're new to paddle boarding on the ocean, plenty of variables can take you by surprise, so it's important to learn how to paddle board in the ocean properly. But that shouldn't discourage you from heading out and experiencing the ocean for yourself! Check out these tips, grab your stand up paddle board, and get ready for a memorable session on the water!

Can You Paddle Board in The Ocean?

Paddle boarding can be done in various locations worldwide, including oceans and lakes, which are among the most preferred spots for this activity. If you're planning on paddle boarding in lakes or oceans, it's essential to consider the differences between these two environments and prepare accordingly.

Can You Paddle Board in The Ocean?

Paddle Boarding Can Only be Done on the Ocean?

Paddle boarding is a popular water sport enjoyed by people all over the world for exercise and scenic views. While some paddle boarders navigate urban rivers and water trails, lakes and oceans are the most common bodies of water for this activity. Whether you paddle board in the sea or your favorite lake, there are important factors to remember before starting your adventure.

How to Paddle Board in The Ocean

Now that we have covered the question “Can you paddle board in ocean?” and the primary distinctions between paddle boarding in the ocean vs lake, let's move on to discussing how to paddle board in the surf.

To paddle board in the ocean, the recommended approach is to launch your SUP board with the nose pointing forward and flat on the waves' surface. Before proceeding, ensure your SUP's leash is secured to your ankle. If the water is still, step into the surf and continue until you're unable to stand any longer, then board your SUP at the appropriate time.

How to Paddle Board in The Ocean

For tips on how to stand up paddle board in the ocean as a beginner, you should choose a calm day and a beach with a safe current and easy tide or wave conditions. Bays are usually great spots for beginners. Also, make sure to check the local weather conditions before heading out. You will need a wetsuit, life jacket, leash for your SUP, and a whistle in case you need help.

Find the safest SUP entry point and launch your board flat on the surface of the waves, pointing its nose forward. If the water is calm, walk into the surf and board your SUP when appropriate. If the water is rough, start by laying on top of your SUP and paddle out to deeper water.

Remember, heading out in choppy conditions is only recommended for strong swimmers and experienced paddle boarders.

Tips to Paddle Board on the Ocean

Due to the unpredictable conditions of the ocean, it's essential to be well-prepared and take all necessary precautions to avoid any risks. Here are some detailed safety guidelines to keep in mind when planning your next paddle boarding in the ocean trip:

Never Paddle on the Ocean Alone

It’s a good rule of thumb to use the buddy system any time you’re on the water. From swimming to paddle boarding to jet skiing, partnering with someone who can have your back in an emergency is a must.

Never Paddle on the Ocean Alone


When you’re paddle boarding in the ocean, stay where you can see others. It could be other people you’re out on the water with or some friends on shore. This is especially important when you are paddle boarding in areas where a lifeguard might not be present.

When you rely on the buddy system, you always have someone who you can call out for help or who can offer assistance if you need it.

Beware of The Rip Currents

One of the biggest challenges of paddle boarding in the ocean is rip currents. These potentially dangerous currents are hard to see. If you get stuck in one, it can be hard to get out.

Rip currents can look like darker spots in the water. There’s usually a lack of waves in the surrounding water, as well.

  • If you see a spot on the water that looks suspiciously dark and calm, STAY AWAY.
  • If you unexpectedly find yourself caught in a rip current, the most important thing to do is STAY CALM. Try to relax and focus on paddling (or swimming, if you’ve fallen into the water), parallel to the shore. Your goal is to get back into choppier water.
  • If you paddle directly toward the beach, you risk the chance of getting swept in the opposite direction, away from shore — and you’ll end up expending a lot of energy. Keep calm and paddle parallel!

Always Use Your Leash

Most paddle boarding in the ocean or lake session come with an ankle leash. And if you don’t have one, you can—and should—easily get one. One end of the leash attaches to your ankle and the other stays connected to your SUP.

Whether you’re cruising in calm waters or surfing with your board, the leash keeps you attached to your board should you fall into the water.

Because the ocean is huge and currents can be unpredictable and dangerous, staying connected to your SUP is essential. You don’t want it being taken away by a wave.

An SUP leash ensures you always have a way to get back to your board and back to safety. And that’s really what safe ocean paddle boarding is all about: expecting the unexpected and being prepared, just in case.

Check out our collection of BLACKFIN Safety for BB now!

Best SUP for Paddle Boarding in the Ocean

Can you use an inflatable paddle board in the ocean? The answer is yes! The BLACKFIN MODEL V SUP at 12'6" long and 32" wide is ideal for ocean paddle boarding. It blends excellent paddling performance with multiple accessory and cargo options. It's perfect for those who enjoy fishing and touring, offering a design that caters to advanced paddlers, particularly those over 5'7", for optimal performance and maneuverability. This is the fastest inflatable SUP in our range. It is designed for speed enthusiasts and long-distance touring, and it has a construction that includes a triple layer PVC composite and a carbon rail for hardboard-like rigidity and durability on open waters.

Best SUP for Paddle Boarding in the Ocean

Best Places to Paddle board in the Ocean

There are plenty of amazing US locations to paddle boarding in the ocean. You can find great waves for paddle boarding at any of the nation's most beautiful coastal spots. Popular places to go paddling include:

  • San Diego — celebrated for its iconic shorelines
  • California — challenging waves and brisk ocean waters
  • Seattle — notable for its breathtaking forests and sheer cliffs
  • Key West — provides a laid-back, tourist-friendly setting

In addition, It is important to consider various factors such as tide conditions, wave conditions, wind, time of day, and weather while deciding the best time to paddle board in ocean. Typically, the ideal time for paddle boarding in the ocean is early morning or late afternoon when the tide is high or incoming and the wind and wave conditions are comparatively calm.

Paddle Boarding on Lakes

As mentioned before, anyone can paddle board on the ocean with proper preparation. However, paddle boarding on a lake is even simpler and more straightforward. Flatwater paddle boarding is less challenging owing to its lack of complexity and the relatively tranquil conditions typically present on lakes.

Paddle Boarding on Lakes

How to Paddle board on Lakes

Before you go paddle boarding on a lake, it's important to check the weather conditions to ensure your safety. Some large lakes have tides, so it's best to avoid days with high winds. Look for a calm launch spot free of sharp rocks or other hazards that could cause injury if you fall off your board.

Bring the necessary safety gear, including a life vest and a leash to tether your board to your ankle. Even though paddle boarding on a lake is generally safer than in the ocean, it's still important to be as cautious as possible. Lastly, exercise extra care if you plan to paddle in an area with dangerous freshwater fish. One advantage of paddle boarding on a lake is that it's usually easier to enter the water since you won't have to deal with big waves that could knock you off your board.

Best SUP for Paddle Boarding on a Lake

If you're looking for an exceptional paddle board that can handle any lake adventure, the iROCKER ALL AROUND 11' Inflatable Paddle Board is perfect. With its wider stance, this board offers unbeatable stability and versatility for novice and experienced riders. Its tapered nose also ensures seamless, sharp turns, while its ability to carry additional passengers and gear makes it an even more appealing option.

Best SUP for Paddle Boarding on a Lake

Get ready for a fun-filled day of paddle boarding on a lake with the iROCKER ALL AROUND 11' Inflatable Paddle Board!

Best Places to Paddle board on Lakes

There are numerous places to paddle boarding on a lake, much like paddle boarding in the ocean. Some great lake destinations worth checking out include:

  • Michigan — where the Great Lakes blends the tranquility of lakes with the vast horizon of the ocean.
  • Lake Tahoe — recognized as a favorite spot for paddling each summer.
  • Chicago — an exciting city with plenty to explore, also located on the Great Lakes.
  • Houston — Texas is great for those seeking calm waters and warm summers.
  • Colorado — known for its natural beauty and numerous excellent lakes for stand-up paddle boarding adventures.

Where Should Beginner Paddle Boarders Go?

After learning the answer to "Can you paddle board in the ocean?" you may wonder about choosing lake or ocean paddle boarding since you're a beginner. Based on this knowledge, it is safe to assume that beginners are better off starting with lake paddle boarding.

Where Should Beginner Paddle Boarders Go?

This is because the ocean can be unpredictable and conditions rough, which is more challenging for beginners to balance on the board. On the other hand, lake paddle boarding is a great way to improve your skills, as the water is calmer and more forgiving than the giant waves in the ocean.

Safe Paddle Boarding on the lakes with iROCKER’s boards

That’s all about the “Can you paddle board in the ocean?” problem. If you're new to paddle boarding and wondering where to go, it's important to know the difference between ocean vs. lake paddle boarding.

Interested in taking your paddle boarding adventures to the next level? Check out iROCKER's line of high-quality all-around SUP boards! Explore our collection today and get ready to make waves on your next outing.