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Boarding Now: Paddleboarding, Bodyboarding and What’s SUP

Three types of boards, three different ways: Bodyboarding, Paddleboarding and Stand-Up Paddling (aka SUP). What are they? What’s the difference? And where can you try it this summer? Grab a board and get on it!

Photo By: Jim Pennucci

What is Bodyboarding?

Ouch on the Newport Wedge

Photo By: Tom Walker

Bodyboarding utilises a much shorter board than for surfing and you lie on your belly to paddle out and then surf waves. It is sometimes also referred to as belly boarding, and sometimes referred to as boogie boarding – which is actually a reference to a specific brand name of body boards called the Boogie Board. Bodyboarders often use fins (like you would in snorkelling or SCUBA diving) to make swimming between waves easier. Bodyboarders can surf the wave which carries them back to shore, or go over the wave and paddle the crest of the wave further out to sea. The bodyboard was invented by a guy called Tom Morey in the early 1970s, and the brand Boogie Board was initially his too. There are a few different ways you can bodyboard. So, there’s riding prone, which is on your stomach, where you can control your direction by the placement of your right and left arms. There is also drop knee bodyboarding where you kneel on one knee on the bodyboard, typically using fins in this type of bodyboarding. Finally, there is also stand-up bodyboarding where you stand on the bodyboard like you would on a surfboard.

boogie boarding

Photo By: Bengt E NymanThe bodyboard is different to the surfboard in terms of its size and the material it’s made of, and, there is also a kind of rivalry between bodyboarders and surfers – although both are there to catch waves. Surfers *sometimes* look down on bodyboarders saying it doesn’t require as much skill and is more for kids or grannies, BUT there are loads of tricks you can do while bodyboarding and you need a lot of skill and courage to catch a tube.

Some great spots to try bodyboarding include:

  • Best on a beach with a good surf.
  • Plage de la Gravière, France, near one of France’s famous surf spots right on the Atlantic coast.
  • Nazare, Portugal, which offers some of the biggest waves in the world
  • El Fronton, Canary Islands – made for bodyboarding
  • For experienced bodyboarders check out our earlier article on the world’s most dangerous surf spots to see if you could tackle any with your Boogie Board.

What is Paddleboarding?


Photo By: Michael Coghlan

Traditional paddleboarding involves kneeling lying prone on your stomach or kneeling on a paddle board or surfboard and using your arms in a freestyle swimming motion to paddle forwards. Your hands and arms are essentially the ‘paddle.’ The boards are usually pointed at both ends and can range from 2.5 to 6.5 meters long.

Some great spots to try paddleboarding include:

  • Best on a beach or big lake with a bit of a current
  • The Maui Paddle Championships where you paddle 14 kilometers with some of the best
  • Santa Monica, United States where they hold a paddleboard race off the famous Santa Monica Pier
  • Goa in India…where you can also try paddleboard yoga.

What is Stand-Up Paddling?

SUP – or Stand-Up Paddling or Stand-Up Paddleboarding – has gained huge popularity recently. It’s though tot have started out in Hawaii (although some claim Africa, or other spots) and there are no limits in terms of where you can try it, there doesn’t have to be a strong surf so a beach, river or lake are all suitable place to try SUP. You basically stand on a paddle board and use one paddle to propel forward. Depending on the conditions you can wear a wetsuit or just bathers.

Some great spots to try SUP include:

  • Beach, river or lake – there are no limits. Try SUP practically anywhere!
  • Hawaii, India or Antarctica – read more about SUP in these locales here.

Other articles on travel destinations by the water and water sports adventure travel ideas:

A Short History of PUP

Where to Scuba Dive with Big Animals 

The Best Scuba Diving Specialities

How to Get Your Scuba Diving License 

What is White Water Rafting

Where to Go Sea Kayaking this Summer

All About Fishing!

The World’s Best Seas

A Short History of Canoeing and Kayaking

A Short History of Deep Diving

Lovely Spots to Horse Ride on a Beach

The World’s Biggest Waterfalls

Best Beaches for Water Sports

Most Adventurous Water Parks for Young and Old

Prime Wind Surfing Destinations

Great Lakes for Water Sports

Beautiful and Giant Rivers to Cruise Down

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