Do you enjoy wet and wild fun at the beach? Of course you do! Who doesn’t? Whether it’s surfing the waves or paddling a canoe, the open water is a great place for family fun.

Did you know that there’s a sport that combines surfboards and paddles? It’s true! It’s called stand up paddle surfing and it’s becoming more popular every year.

You might hear it called other things from time to time. Some people shorten stand up paddle surfing to SUP surfing. Others simply call it paddle surfing, stand up paddle boarding, beach boy surfing or even Hoe he’e nalu in the Hawaiian language!

Speaking of the Hawaiian Islands, that’s where paddle surfing got its start back in the early 1960s. Surfers looking for the biggest and best waves to surf needed to get a long ways out into the water. So what did they do?

Instead of paddling all that way while lying flat on their long boards, they instead used long outrigger paddles and stood on their long boards to paddle out past the reefs in search of those monster waves. Even though it got its start with surfers, paddle surfing has become a popular pastime all over the country, even in calm lakes and smaller rivers.

Compared to regular surfing, paddle surfing is much easier to learn. Using paddles gives beginners a better sense of balance and more control over their movement in the water. Many beginners feel comfortable on their board in the water in as little as one hour.

Paddle surfing also gives you a good workout, as your core abdominal and back muscles get tested as you paddle and try to keep your balance! Surfers enjoy paddle surfing because they usually find they can catch more and bigger waves.

If you don’t live near the ocean, you can still try paddle surfing on a lake or a river. Many boating enthusiasts have taken up paddle surfing because of the challenge it provides when you paddle surf through an area with rapids or other obstacles.

If you want to give paddle surfing a try, you can use a regular surfboard and any type of paddle. However, the sport has gained popularity to the point where custom paddle surfing equipment is available. Special stand up paddles should usually be five to seven inches longer than a rider’s height.

115 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (14 votes, avg. 4.00 out of 5)
    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Kate! It’s always an adventure to try new things–maybe paddle surfing could be your next hobby! Hope you have a WONDERful day! :)

    • Thanks for leaving this cool comment, Ethan! We are SO glad that you learned something new with us today about paddle surfing! If you decide to give it a try, we hope you tell us all about it! :)

  1. Thoughts: It must be hard to paddle surf when you are really tall. (Cristian)

    Connections: This reminds me of Florida because on the beach my family and I saw people paddle surfing. (Andrew)

    Predictions: What is a mirror room? (Kevin) What is a walk in closet? (Briahna) Have you ever been in a fun house? (Michelle) What is an Asian or Oriental screen? (Jake) What is a slide show? (Kathy)

    • Well, hey there Mrs. Hess’ class! We are so glad that you’ve joined us on Wonderopolis today! :)

      Cristian- Thanks for sharing your awesome thoughts on today’s Wonder! Perhaps being taller does make it a bit more challenging to keep balance on a paddle board! Great comment, WONDER Friend :)

      Good Morning, Andrew! Florida has beautiful beaches and lots of sunshine–and we think those are two ingredients for PERFECT paddle boarding! Thanks for sharing such smart connections with us! :)

      Kevin, Briahna, Michelle, Jake and Kathy- Nice work coming up with those CREATIVE predictions! We will just have to wait and see what the future holds! :)

    • What sharp observations, Justin! We WONDER what would happen if he wasn’t wearing it and fell off! We hypothesize that Uncle George is an excellent swimmer! Thanks for your super comment, and we hope you have a WONDERful day! :)

    • We’re really happy to hear you liked this Wonder of the Day®, Christopher! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us and learning something new today! :)

    • Hello Wonder Friend, Shelby! We are so glad that you enjoyed today’s Wonder! Summertime is the perfect season to pick up paddle surfing! We hope that you have a BLAST doing something you’ve never tried before! See you next time! :)

  2. Today’s wonder of the day was wet! You know, every year I go to vist my friend, Brandon, in California, and we go surfing, and even paddle surffing! It was hard at first, but now it’s a peice of cake for me! I cant wait to wonder with you all laters!

    Surfs Up! :3

    • Good morning, Wonder Friend! We are so happy to have to WONDERing with us today about paddle surfing. That is AWESOME to hear that you have mastered something as challenging as paddle surfing! You really ought to be proud of yourself! The coolest part is that now, YOU can be the teacher and show someone else how to surf. We hope you have a terrific day! :)

    • Good morning, Wonder Friend! We WONDER if your sister could take a few minutes to teach you how to paddle surf next time you go to Florida! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on today’s Wonder, Shawn! Isn’t it so COOL to see and learn new things? See you soon! :)

  3. I’m with Kate, I’ve never gone paddle surfing, but it sounds very fun. I used to go down to Key West, and there would be a lot of waves down there, so I wish I knew how to so I could actually paddle surf.
    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about how things can be made.

    • Happy Friday, Emily! Next time you hit the coast, maybe you should give paddle surfing a try! Thanks for sharing your comment and prediction with us today! :)

  4. Hi Wonderopolis!

    We have a connection! Four of our students in our class went surfing on a canoe.
    Why is Hawaii such a popular place to surf?

    We predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about a changing room at a store, a bedroom, an old house, or in a bathroom.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends! Thanks for wondering with us today about paddle surfing! Did you say paddle surfing on a canoe?! That sounds like LOADS of fun! Hawaii is known for its warm climate and BIG waves–two things that make paddle surfing EXTRA awesome! See you next time! :)

    • Thanks for wondering with us today, Mason! It makes us jump for joy when you guys learn new things at Wonderopolis! We hope you have a fantastic day! :)

    • Good morning, Kim! Sometimes picking up a new hobby is easy for some people and harder for others… but if you set your mind to it, you can do anything! We are SO glad that you decided to WONDER with us today! See you soon! :)

    • Hey Nick!
      We are thrilled that you found today’s Wonder interesting! Now that you know a little more about paddle surfing, you may want to try it out next time you are near some killer-waves! Have an awesome day! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis

    I liked today’s wonder. I’ve only seen paddle boarding in movies. I think it would be really fun. Keep wondering.


    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Jakob! We are super excited to hear that you liked today’s Wonder! Maybe one day you will be able to paddle surf just like they do in the movies! Have a WONDERful day! :)

  6. ———————————————
    I like today’s wonder cause I think it was cool. I think tomorrows wonder is going to be about being unique.

    • What an awesome prediction about tomorrow’s Wonder, Brady! We are so glad that you came to hang out with us today on Wonderopolis! :)

  7. Hey Wonderopolis,
    I never knew that paddle surfing was so popular. I have never gone paddle surfing before but I want to. I don’t know what tomorrow’s wonder will be about.

    • Hey there, Noah! We are so glad that you learned something new today about paddle surfing! We guess you will have to just wait and see about tomorrow’s Wonder! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Wonder Friend Jayden! We are so glad to see you again here on Wonderopolis! We agree that paddle surfing is cool–and so are YOU! See you again soon! :)

    • We are SO glad that you are back, Wonder Friend Liam! No worries, we all get busy from time to time! Unique is a great word to describe today’s Wonder! Can you think of other adjectives to describe paddle surfing? Fun? Exciting? Scary? See you again soon! :)

  8. Hi Wonderopolis,
    I like today’s wonder because you get to learn about the paddle surfing. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about someone famous’s room.
    Thanks Wonderopolis!!!

    • Hey there, Ben! That is awesome that you liked today’s Wonder! Paddle surfing looks like a blast, right?! Thanks for sharing your comments and predictions, we are SO glad to have you on Wonderopolis! :)

  9. Hi wonderopolis,
    I loved today’s wonder! :) It made me want to paddle surf so badly. I hope one day I can. I love the beach and go there all the time in the summer and swim forever and then have a picnic. I go swimming in my friends’s pools all the time too.
    your wonder friend,

    • We are so glad to Wonder with you again, Alicia! Thanks for sharing your awesome connections with us! It sounds like you have TONS of fun when you go to the beach :) We predict that next time, you might just give paddle surfing a whirl! If you do, be sure to tell your friends here are Wonderopolis ALL about it! See you again soon! :)

  10. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I thought today’s wonder was really cool because I have never heard of paddle surfing before and now that I know what it is. I love it.:)Its awesome!

    • Hey there, Maddy! Comments like yours make us do our happy dance! We are thrilled to hear that you are so excited about the things you learn here at Wonderpolis! Isn’t WONDERing fun?! See you again soon, Wonder Friend! :)

  11. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I thought today’s wonder was really cool and it made me want to try paddle surfing.
    I have alway’s been scared of surfing because I am scared to fall and hurt my self but now I am not so scared because I see all those people surfing and not getting hurt. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about change rooms.

    Your wonder Friend Karsen

    • Hello, Wonder Friend Karsen! We are so glad that learning more about paddle surfing is helping you OVERCOME your fears! And always remember this– It’s not about how many times you fall, but about how many times you get back up! Thanks for sharing your super comments and predictions! Have an WONDERful day! :)

    • Thanks for sharing, Wonder Friend! If you decide to give paddle surfing a go– we hope that you tell us all about it! See you soon! :)

  12. dear wonderopolis’,

    I loved today’s wonder. It was interesting and I had no idea that there was such a thing as paddle surfing. I thought that it was so cool that paddle surfing is easy. I thought that it would be harder because of holding the paddle. Do you have a wonder about designing clothes?

    your friend Eiffie

  13. Hi wonderopolis! I learned alot about paddle surfing. I want to go paddle surfing. That was a really cool video. I wonder what the next wonder of the day is. Good bye!

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Jewels! We are thrilled that you enjoyed learning about paddle surfing with us today! Feel free to share your Wonder predictions anytime! Have an awesome day! :)

  14. Happy Friday Wonderopolis!

    Today’s Wonder had us saying Surfs Up! We loved the video. It was SO cool when he was paddle surfing and when he caught that wave! It looked really fun! It also looks kind of scary. We wish we could paddle surf! It looks hard to balance. We’re going to try it out on a lake!

    Who invented paddle surfing? Why does the paddle have to be bigger than you?

    We think your next wonder will be about your body or Egypt.


    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Ms. G’s class! WOW! What creative comments, questions and predictions you have WONDERed today! We are so excited that you are having so much fun WONDERing together about paddle surfing! We can’t wait to hear from you again soon! :)

  15. Hi Wonderopolis! I learned so much about paddle surfing, I want to try it! I predict tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will be on a star`s dressing room. Bye!


    • Hey There Ponylover1! We are super excited that you joined us on Wonderopolis today! Paddle surfing looks like a blast, right?! Thanks for sharing you comments and predictions! :)

  16. Hey Wonderopolis! I enjoyed your video about paddle surfing. I liked when the waves splashed the camera. It made it look like 3D!

    • What a great comment, Emily! A 3D paddle surfing movie would be super cool! Thanks for hanging out with us here at Wonderopolis! :)

  17. Hi! Sorry I haven’t left many comments for a while… anyway, this is a cool wonder! I have never been to the beach before, much less gone paddle surfing, but it still sounds fun! Today, My family will be busy because my sister Blakeleigh is turning 10! I am excited to see her face when she opens her present that I am going to give her. I would say what it is,but then she would probably see this comment and that would not be good at all, because she does check to see if you reply to her comments that she leaves. Thank you for today’s wonder! ;) :)

    • Happy Friday, Wonder Friend Berkleigh! We are SO glad to see you back here on Wonderopolis! Did you know that you can paddle surf on the lake too? Paddle surfing can happen on lakes, beaches AND rivers!
      Please be sure to tell our special Wonder Friend Blakeleigh that her friends are Wonderopolis wish her a VERY HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY!!! She must be so happy to have a sibling like you that gives awesome birthday gifts! Have a WONDERful day! :)

  18. _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
    Hi!!! That Was Really Cool!!! I Wonder How Do You Surf??? :D

    Wonder What’s Next???
    Tomorrow’s Wonder Of The Day Takes A Peek Inside A Unique Changing Room!!!

    I Have No Idea!!! :P Hmmm…
    I Wonder What Your Very First Wonder Was I Wonder…

  19. Hello Wonderopolis,

    We write to you on a rainy Friday. It’s not all bad though, it’s Alex D.’s birthday! He is 11 years old today!


    The paddle surfer in the video was very skilled because he stood stiffly upright on the board (Alex D.).

    The paddle surfer uses his paddle and body to help him turn (Youssouf)

    It would probably take me a month to learn how to paddleboard (Amelia).

    You have to keep balance on the surf board or else you might fall. You probably have to be pretty strong to paddleboard (Emmanuel).

    Take a look into a movie studio (Alex)
    A public bathroom…ew! (Cassie)
    The Oval Office (Mr. B)

    • Happy Friday, Mr. Bruder’s class! We are SO excited that you all have decided to join us here on Wonderopolis today! We are sorry to hear of the dreary weather, but SUPER excited to celebrate Alex D’s birthday with you! Tell Alex that his Wonder Friends at Wonderopolis are shouting a BIG HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY, ALEX!
      Thank you, also, for sharing your awesome observations about paddle surfing with us! Alex and Cassie had some creative predictions about tomorrow’s Wonder–and we can’t wait to share it with you in the morning! See you all very soon! :)

    • Hello, Wonder Friend Erik! Paddle surfboards tend to be about 10-12ft long! Cool, huh? Thanks for WONDERing! :)

  20. I’ve never paddle surfed before. I really want to try but it kind of looks scary!!!! I was wondering if paddle surfing is popular or not.

    • Hey Shyaunna! We agree that paddle surfing looks a little bit scary! Have you ever had an experience where you had to overcome a fear? Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Hello Wonder Friend Emma! Thanks for sharing your comments and questions with us! It does look a little bit scary, doesn’t it? However, sometimes things look scary at first and then end up being a BLAST! Would you ever try paddle surfing? See you soon! :)

  21. I really like the video and I really like how you showed the surf board going up the wave. Did you have a water broof camera? Please make more videos like this.

    • It makes us so happy that you enjoyed today’s Wonder so much, Drew! To answer your question, yes–we did use a waterproof camera that attaches to the front of the paddle board! See you again soon and WONDER ON! :)

  22. oh my gosh that’s sooooooooooooo cool! I can’t say anything more about it. How do you balance like that? It looks kind of hard!


    • Hey there Wonder Friend Isabel! We are so glad that you find today’s Wonder so interesting! It must take a lot of concentration and dedication to be able to balance on a paddle board like that! Would you ever try paddle boarding? Thanks for hanging out with us today on Wonderopolis! :)

  23. I do not know how to swim.vI mostly have to stand on the bottom of the ocean or other swiming places. My brother tried to teach me but it didn’t work. I like the wonder of the day!

    • Good afternoon Wonder Friend! Learning how to swim can be tough! Don’t give up though, because your friends at Wonderopolis believe in you! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)


    I liked todays wonder. Surfing seems fun but scary. I would never go surfing because I dont have good balance. Have you ever been surfing? I think tomorrow’s is going to be about a machine.


    • Good afternoon, Elijah! Sometimes things can be funny AND scary at the same time–like riding a roller coaster or a horse! Maybe with a little bit of practice, you can overcome your fears! Thanks for sharing your comments and predictions with us today! See you soon! :)

    • Hey there, Bo! Thanks for telling us about what you’d like to do and where you’re from! We Wonder if you can paddle surf in Gulf Shores? :)

    • Good Afternoon, Dominick! We are stoked to have you WONDERing with us today! Shout out to all of our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tompkin’s class! :)

    • Hey there, Ashley! We are super excited that you liked reading this article so much! Let us know if you decide to try out paddle surfing! Have a fantastic Friday! :)

  25. We think paddle surfing sounds fun! One of our classmates has tried it and one of our classmates saw people paddle surfing when she was in Hawaii.

    • Hello Wonder Friends of Mrs. McNab’s class! We are so excited to have you with us today WONDERing about paddle surfing! That is so cool that your class has a couple of students who are familiar with the sport! Have a WONDERful Friday! :)

    • Way to make AWESOME connections between paddle surfing and snow boarding! We Wonder what the differences are between a paddle board and a snow board? Keep WONDERing, friend! :)

  26. Hi wonderopolis
    How Cool!!!! I wish I could paddle surf. But I am only 8 years old. My dad surfs and he is going to be buying a paddle surf board, he will be teaching me!


    • It sounds like you’re in for a real treat, Isabel! How lucky are you to be able to test the waters and go surfing soon! We bet your dad is an excellent teacher! Have fun! :)

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friends Rafe and Chase! We are so excited that you’ve been thinking of your very own Wonders! We are always looking for great new Wonders, and we love when our Wonder Friends suggest them, too! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you paddle surf?
  • Where did paddle surfing begin?
  • Are there other names for paddle surfing?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Surf’s up! Explore one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member to extend your learning about stand up paddle surfing:

  • Up for a challenge? The next time you head to a water park, be sure to spend some time at the wave pool. Have you ever WONDERed how those wave pools work? How do they generate waves like the ocean? Find out now! Jump online to check out Making Waves to learn all about the cool science behind how wave pools work!

Still Wondering

National Geographic Education’s Science of Surfline article discusses a website that predicts where surfers can catch the best waves.

Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a peek inside a unique changing room!

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