Best Places to go Paddleboarding in Orange County

Paddleboarding on the pristine waters of Orange County is a fun way to explore the city’s 42 miles of shoreline. The waters are warm and calm, making it perfect for paddleboarding. We’ll lay out five hotspots for paddleboarding in Orange County!

Top 5 Hotspots for Paddleboarding in Orange County

The following are the best places to go paddleboarding in Orange County:

1. Huntington Beach Harbor

At just 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is the farthest beach on the Orange County Coastline to the north. The 3500 people community offers five different Islands and Marinas for any on-the-water activity of choice, with paddleboarding ranking high on this list. 

Since its construction in 1963 at the historic sunset bay of the Estuary wetlands, Huntington Beach Harbor has built a reputation as the famous “surf city.” Clear waters, distant mountains, and harbor palm trees at the Huntington harbor create a relaxing environment where you can cool off after paddleboarding.  

The established community also provides all the amenities you might need during a vacation period at this spot. For instance, there are numerous paddleboarding rental services and tour guides at the harbor to provide a suitable paddleboard and teach you tips on standing up on a paddleboard

The harbor has flat waters that are perfect for first-timers to perfect their on-the-water balance and paddling techniques. More experienced individuals looking to relax on the water can also exploit this opportunity. 

2. Balboa Island

Balboa Island is located on Newport Bay and very close to the Newport Harbor and accessible from two major points: the Marine Avenue Bridge and inland Balboa Pier via the Balboa Island Ferry. Furthermore, Balboa Island is relatively small, and you can simply walk up to the waters from any location on the Island. The water and overall accessibility provide you with numerous launching point options. 

You’re in for an enjoyable experience when you get on the water because the seas are calm and they have little boat traffic. This little boat traffic is a surprise because the island is a hive of carnivals and social activities. You can get everything you want on vacation from the restaurants, rentals and tour services on the Island.

The view around Balboa Island is impressive. On sunny days, you’ll get a lovely view of islanders enjoying the sun, people fishing at the docks, and beautiful boats on the water. If you paddle towards the bridge linking the Island, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise at the Irvine Terrace. 

You can also enjoy the view of the infamous Balboa Pavilion, Balboa Ferris Wheel and the Balboa Fun Zone. If you’re lucky, you can get a picture of sea lions on your tour around the island. 

3. Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve

The Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve is one of the marine protected areas in California. The location is teeming with diverse marine life due to its “no-take” policy forbidding fishing and other related activities, making for a beautiful and adventurous paddle on the water.

You’ll see extraordinary aquatic wildlife like sea lions and whales when peeping through the transparent waters. The Laguna features a picturesque view of southern California, rocky reefs, sandy beaches, and high-rise cliffs. 

This beach has numerous launching points suitable for both beginners and experienced people. For instance, Shaw’s Cove on Laguna Beach has flat waters ideal for beginners. On the other hand, veterans looking to ride the waves can launch on the long waves of Thalia beach or Brooks Street Beach. 

4. Dana Point Harbor Beach

Although Dana Point Harbor is the smallest of the three significant harbors along the Orange County coastline, it is one of the most adventurous spots. This excellent location continues to live up to its rich surfing history, being home to the early producers of surfing products. Today, Dana Point Harbor beach combines still waters and lush imagery tucked between lofty cliffs to give you an inch-perfect paddleboarding spot.  

Dana Point Harbor Beach is popularly called Baby Beach. It’s little wonder the beach is family-friendly, with a marked swimming spot for children. The waters are also leaving you with no worries. 

Grass parks, high cliffs, the historic pilgrim fishing pier, and beautiful sidewalks make up the scenic view at Dana Point Harbor Beach. Its remarkable features attract plenty of people all year round, making the shoreline a hub for social events. You should go paddleboarding there if you want to get a combination of water and social experiences with your family.

5.  Newport Back Bay

A date with nature, a close-up view of aquatic life, and family fun on the dunes are all for grabs at the Newport Back Bay. This location is approximately 10.5 miles of beautiful wetlands, all for water adventure. It has gorgeous paddleboarding launching points like the North Star Beach and the Newport Aquatic Center.

Newport Back Bay is an ideal paddleboarding location because the waters are calm, the view is excellent, and nature is present. It is home to over 200 different species of migratory birds; You can see the biology playing out right in front of you. A vacation here can double as a science field trip. 

The Newport Dunes also serve as fantastic side attractions after paddleboarding. They are great for family picnics and sit-outs. 

The waters on Newport Back Bay are flat and protected, making it suitable for beginners standing on a paddleboard for the first time. The wind is reasonably standard all year long so that beginners can go paddleboarding on the seas. 

The beautiful view at the back bay comprises colorful birds, pristine wetlands, and monumental dunes. The spot is easily accessible from about nine locations, ranging from the Newport Aquatic Center to the Back Bay View Park. 

6. Doheny State Beach

The famous “Doho” beach among locals has all the right features for paddleboarding in Orange County. Although it is still a part of the Dana Point region, the beach qualifies as a stand-alone spot capable of providing its own unique experience. This unique experience is due to a mile of sandy beach, clear waters, calm waves, and social activities. 

Doheny beach is home to the annual Pacific Paddle Games (PPG). Therefore, it’s a significant paddleboarding location in Orange County, with experienced paddleboarders coming here to practice. 

The games held here also facilitate an excellent social experience. There are numerous campsites and picnic tables to network with other paddleboarders when you get off the water with enough paid parking spaces at the beach.

Exciting Facts About Paddleboarding in Orange County

The following are some cool facts for you to book an appointment at any of the above-listed beaches for some paddleboarding action.

1. The Coastline is 40 miles long.

Orange County has a 40-mile-long shoreline. The beaches and islands we discussed above line up along this shoreline. 

2. The Orange County Features a Wedge

In surfing, a wedge means a point where two waves converge and merge to form an A-type wave. “The Wedge” is one of the most famous spots where major A-type waves are formed.

3. The Orange County Hosts the Pacific Paddle Games

Doheny Beach at Dana Point is the location for this annual global event in Orange County.


Orange County is home to some jaw-dropping waterbodies that guarantee you, your friends, and family fun and excitement, all year long. You should ensure to pack all necessary gear, confirm accommodation plans and check the weather before you book your flight to the beautiful city of California. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Where can I launch my SUP in Orange county?

You can lauch your stand up paddleboard in the following places: 

  • Marina del Rey
  • San Pedro
  • Newport beach
  • Laguna beach
  • Santa Barbara

Do you need a permit for a paddle board in California?

You do not need a permit or license for your paddle board anywhere in California. Non-motorized watercraft, like canoes, paddle boards, and kayaks do not need registration to be launched and used on the water. 

Do you need a license to sail a boat in California?

California boating laws mandate boaters aged 45 or younger to obtain and carry the California Boater Card (CBC) while operating a motorized vehicle on any of the California waterways.