Paddle Boarding Virginia Beach: The Ultimate Guide to an Unforgettable Experience

Welcome to the breathtaking shores of Virginia Beach, where the tranquil waters and stunning scenery create the perfect setting for an unforgettable paddle boarding adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your time on the water. From the best spots to paddle board to safety tips and equipment recommendations, we’ve got you covered.

Table of Contents

Exploring the Waters of Virginia Beach: An Overview

Virginia Beach offers a diverse range of waterways for paddle boarding enthusiasts to explore. From the expansive Chesapeake Bay to the majestic Atlantic Ocean, there are endless opportunities to paddle through serene lakes, winding rivers, and awe-inspiring coastlines. Each location presents its own unique charm and challenges, making Virginia Beach a true paradise for paddle boarders.

Chesapeake Bay: A Haven for Nature Lovers

One of the most popular destinations for paddle boarding in Virginia Beach is the Chesapeake Bay. This vast body of water is home to an array of wildlife, including dolphins, ospreys, and blue crabs. Paddling through the calm waters of the bay allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, with picturesque views of marshes, cypress trees, and sandy beaches.

For a truly unforgettable experience, consider exploring the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which borders the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay. This protected area is a haven for migratory birds and offers a peaceful and secluded paddling experience.

Atlantic Ocean: Riding the Waves

If you’re seeking a more exhilarating paddle boarding adventure, look no further than the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean provides an opportunity to test your skills and ride the waves. Virginia Beach is renowned for its consistent surf, making it a popular spot for paddle boarders looking to catch some waves.

For beginners, it’s recommended to start with smaller waves and gradually work your way up to larger ones. It’s essential to have proper technique and balance to navigate the ocean’s swells safely. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings, including other surfers and potential hazards.

Lakes and Rivers: Serenity and Scenic Beauty

Virginia Beach is not just about the ocean and bay; it also boasts several picturesque lakes and rivers that are perfect for paddle boarding. Lake Smith, Lake Lawson, and Lake Windsor are popular choices for their calm waters and beautiful surroundings. Paddling through these serene lakes allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature.

The Lynnhaven River is another favorite spot for paddle boarders, offering a peaceful and scenic experience. With its diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife, including herons and egrets, the Lynnhaven River provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature while enjoying your paddle boarding adventure.

Choosing the Right Paddle Board: A Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to paddle boarding, choosing the right board is crucial for a successful and enjoyable experience. There are several factors to consider when purchasing a paddle board, including its size, shape, and material. Understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision that suits your skill level, preferences, and intended use of the board.

Size Matters: Determining the Right Board Length and Width

The size of the paddle board plays a significant role in its stability and maneuverability. Generally, longer boards provide more stability, making them suitable for beginners or those looking for a leisurely paddle. On the other hand, shorter boards are more maneuverable and responsive, making them ideal for experienced paddlers or those interested in surfing or racing.

In addition to length, the width of the board also affects its stability. Wider boards offer more stability, making them suitable for beginners or those looking for a board that can accommodate extra gear or passengers. Narrower boards, on the other hand, are more agile and better suited for advanced paddlers or those interested in speed.

Understanding Board Shapes: All-Around, Touring, and Surfing

Paddle boards come in various shapes, each designed for specific purposes. The three most common shapes are all-around, touring, and surfing.

All-around boards are versatile and suitable for a wide range of conditions. They are typically wider and provide excellent stability, making them ideal for beginners or those looking for a board that can handle various water conditions. All-around boards are a great choice for recreational paddling, fitness workouts, or simply cruising along the coast.

Touring boards are designed for long-distance paddling and exploring. They are typically longer and narrower than all-around boards, offering better efficiency and tracking. Touring boards are perfect for those who want to venture out on longer excursions and explore different waterways. They are also a great choice for fitness enthusiasts looking for a more intense workout.

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Surfing boards, also known as SUP surfboards, are designed specifically for riding waves. They are shorter and narrower than all-around or touring boards, allowing for quick turns and maneuverability in the surf. Surfing boards are recommended for experienced paddlers who are comfortable in the ocean and have a good understanding of wave dynamics.

Choosing the Right Material: Hard Boards vs. Inflatable Boards

Paddle boards are typically made from either hard materials, such as fiberglass or epoxy, or inflatable materials. Both options have their advantages and considerations.

Hard boards are known for their durability and performance. They provide excellent glide, stability, and responsiveness on the water. Hard boards are a popular choice among more experienced paddlers or those focused on surfing or racing. However, they can be heavier and less portable compared to inflatable boards.

Inflatable boards, on the other hand, offer convenience and portability. They can be easily deflated, rolled up, and stored in a backpack, making them perfect for travel or those with limited storage space. Inflatable boards are generally more affordable and are a great option for beginners or those interested in recreational paddling.

Essential Gear for a Safe and Enjoyable Experience

While paddle boarding in Virginia Beach, it’s essential to have the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Here are some essential items you should consider investing in:

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

A PFD, commonly known as a life jacket, is a must-have safety item for any water activity. It provides buoyancy and keeps you afloat in case of an emergency. When choosing a PFD, look for one specifically designed for paddle boarding or other water sports, as they offer more freedom of movement and comfort.


A leash is a crucial piece of equipment that attaches you to your paddle board. It ensures that your board stays nearby in case you fall off or get separated from it. A leash is especially important in ocean or river conditions with currents or waves that can quickly carry your board away.


Choosing the right paddle is essential for efficient and comfortable paddling. Paddles come in various materials, such as aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Lighter materials are preferred for longer paddling excursions. Additionally, consider the length of the paddle, which should be proportionate to your height and the type of paddling you’ll be doing.

Appropriate Clothing

Wearing the right clothing can enhance your comfort and protect you from the elements. For warm weather, opt for lightweight and moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you cool and dry. In colder conditions, consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit to keep you warm, as well as a hat and gloves to protect your extremities.

Sun Protection

The sun’s rays can be intense, especially when reflected off the water’s surface. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses with UV protection, and a hat or visor to shield your face from direct sunlight.

Where to Paddle Board in Virginia Beach: Top Spots

Virginia Beach offers a plethora of stunning locations for paddle boarding. Each spot has its own unique charm and features, catering to different preferences and skill levels. Here are some of the top spots in Virginia Beach to paddle board:

First Landing State Park

Located on the Chesapeake Bay, First Landing State Park offers a tranquil and picturesque setting for paddle boarding. The park features calm waters, scenic trails, and diverse wildlife, providing a serene escape from the bustling city. Explore the park’s expansive shoreline, paddle through the serene Narrows, or venture out into the Chesapeake Bay for a more adventurous experience.

False Cape State Park

For those seeking a more secluded and untouched paddle boarding experience, False Cape State Park is a hidden gem. Situated on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, this remote park offers pristine beaches, marshes, and forests. Paddle along the Back Bay and witness an array of wildlife, including migratory birds and wild horses.

Rudee Inlet

Rudee Inlet is a popular spot for paddle boarders looking for a mix of calm waters and ocean access. Located near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, this inlet provides a great opportunity to paddle in protected waters while enjoying the scenic viewsof the surrounding area. You can paddle along the inlet and observe the fishing boats, or venture out into the ocean for a more challenging paddle. Rudee Inlet is also conveniently located near restaurants and shops, making it a convenient spot for paddlers to grab a bite to eat or browse through local stores after their paddle.

Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

The Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is a nature lover’s paradise and a haven for paddle boarders. This expansive refuge is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including marshes, forests, and dunes. Paddle through the calm waters of Back Bay and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the surrounding nature. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the refuge, such as herons, egrets, and ospreys. The Back Bay Wildlife Refuge offers a peaceful and scenic paddle boarding experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Chick’s Beach

Chick’s Beach, also known as Chesapeake Beach, is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. This beautiful stretch of beach offers calm and shallow waters, making it an ideal location for beginners or those looking for a leisurely paddle. Explore the shoreline and take in the stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Chick’s Beach is also known for its vibrant beach culture, with nearby restaurants and bars where you can grab a refreshing drink or bite to eat after your paddle.

North End Beach

If you’re looking for a more adventurous paddle boarding experience, head to North End Beach. This area of Virginia Beach is known for its larger waves and is a popular destination for experienced paddle boarders and surfers. Test your skills and catch some waves as you paddle along the coast. North End Beach offers a thrilling and dynamic paddle boarding experience that will challenge and exhilarate you.

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Paddle Boarding Techniques and Tips for Beginners

If you’re new to paddle boarding, learning the proper techniques and tips will help you get started on the right foot and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on the water. Here are some essential techniques and tips for beginners:

Getting on the Board

Start by kneeling on the board, placing your knees towards the center for stability. Once you are balanced, slowly stand up, one foot at a time, and find your center of gravity. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent for better balance. Engage your core muscles to maintain stability as you stand up.

Paddle Strokes

There are two main paddle strokes you need to learn: the forward stroke and the turning stroke. To perform the forward stroke, extend your arms and place the paddle blade in the water near the front of the board. Pull the paddle back towards your toes, keeping the blade close to the board’s surface. Alternate sides with each stroke to maintain a straight trajectory.

For the turning stroke, place the paddle blade in the water towards the tail of the board. Push the blade away from the board, creating a sweeping motion towards the nose. This stroke will help you turn in the desired direction.

Maintaining Balance

Balancing on a paddle board is crucial for stability and control. Keep your gaze fixed on the horizon or a distant point to help maintain balance. Engage your core muscles and distribute your weight evenly on the board. Practice shifting your weight from side to side to improve your balance and maneuverability.

Dealing with Falling

It’s normal to fall off the paddle board, especially when you’re just starting. Embrace it as part of the learning process and don’t be discouraged. When you fall, try to fall away from the board to avoid injuring yourself. Get back on the board by swimming towards it and using the leash to retrieve it. Remember, falling is all part of the fun and adventure of paddle boarding!

Safety Considerations

As a beginner, it’s important to prioritize safety while paddle boarding. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:

Wear a PFD:

Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while paddle boarding. It will keep you afloat in case you fall off the board or encounter an emergency situation.

Check Weather Conditions:

Prior to heading out on the water, check the weather forecast and be aware of any potential storms or strong winds. Avoid paddle boarding in severe weather conditions that could put your safety at risk.

Know Your Limits:

Start with calm and flat water conditions, especially as a beginner. Gradually progress to more challenging conditions as you gain experience and confidence. It’s important to know your limits and not push yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with.

Stay Hydrated:

Bring a water bottle with you and stay hydrated while paddle boarding. It’s easy to become dehydrated, especially on hot days or during intense paddling sessions.

Be Aware of Potential Hazards:

Keep an eye out for potential hazards in the water, such as rocks, submerged objects, or strong currents. Avoid areas with heavy boat traffic and be mindful of other water users, such as swimmers or surfers.

Advanced Paddle Boarding: Taking it to the Next Level

If you’re an experienced paddle boarder looking to take your skills to the next level, there are several advanced techniques and activities you can explore. Here are some ways to challenge yourself and enhance your paddle boarding experience:


Paddle board racing is a thrilling and competitive sport that allows you to test your skills and compete against other paddlers. Join local races or participate in organized events to challenge yourself and improve your speed and endurance. Racing requires a combination of technique, strength, and strategy, making it a great way to take your paddle boarding skills to new heights.


If you’re comfortable in the ocean and have some experience in paddle boarding, why not try paddle board surfing? Riding waves on a paddle board is an exhilarating experience that requires balance, timing, and agility. Start with smaller waves and gradually work your way up to larger ones as you gain confidence. Paddle board surfing allows you to connect with the power of the ocean and experience the thrill of riding its energy.

Yoga on a Paddle Board

Combine the tranquility of yoga with the peacefulness of being on the water by practicing yoga on a paddle board. Stand-up paddle board yoga, or SUP yoga, challenges your balance, core strength, and focus as you move through yoga poses on the unstable surface of the board. It’s a unique and serene way to deepen your yoga practice and connect with nature.

Exploring New Locations

As an advanced paddler, you may have already explored the popular spots in Virginia Beach. Now it’s time to venture into lesser-known or more challenging locations. Seek out hidden gems, such as secluded lakes or challenging river rapids, and push your skills to new limits. Exploring new locations keeps your paddle boarding experience fresh, exciting, and full of discovery.

Safety First: Precautions and Emergency Preparedness

While paddle boarding is a relatively safe activity, it’s important to prioritize safety and be prepared for unexpected situations. Here are some safety precautions and emergency preparedness tips to keep in mind:

Check Weather Conditions

Prior to heading out, check the weather forecast and be aware of any potential changes in weather conditions. Avoid paddle boarding in stormy weather or when strong winds are present, as these conditions can make it difficult to control the board and pose a safety risk.

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Inform Someone of Your Plans

Before embarking on a paddle boarding excursion, inform a friend or family member of your plans. Let them know where you’ll be going, how long you expect to be out on the water, and when they should expect you back. This way, if anything goes wrong or you encounter unexpected difficulties, someone will be aware of your situation and can take appropriate action if necessary.

Wear a Leash

Always wear a leash that attaches you to your paddle board. In the event that you fall off the board, a leash ensures that you stay connected to it, preventing it from drifting away and leaving you stranded in the water.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings while paddle boarding. Keep an eye out for boats, jet skis, or other watercraft that may be sharing the same body of water. Avoid areas with heavy boat traffic and be mindful of potential hazards, such as rocks or submerged objects.

Know Your Limits

Be honest with yourself about your capabilities and paddle within your skill level. Avoid taking unnecessary risks or attempting advanced techniques or conditions that are beyond your comfort zone. Paddle boarding should be an enjoyable and safe activity, so don’t push yourself beyond what you’re capable of.

Carry Safety Equipment

In addition to wearing a PFD and a leash, consider carrying other safety equipment, such as a whistle, a signaling device, and a first aid kit. These items can come in handy in case of emergencies or when assistance is needed.

Know How to Self-Rescue

It’s important to know how to self-rescue in case you fall off your paddle board or encounter a challenging situation. Practice getting back on your board from the water and learn different techniques, such as the “turtle roll” or the “flip rescue,” which can help you regain control of your board and get back on it safely.

Stay Hydrated and Protected from the Sun

While paddle boarding, it’s crucial to stay hydrated, especially on hot and sunny days. Bring a water bottle with you and drink regularly to prevent dehydration. Additionally, protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses with UV protection, and a hat or visor to shield your face from direct sunlight. Remember, the sun’s rays can be intensified when reflected off the water’s surface.

Take a Paddle Boarding Course or Lesson

If you’re new to paddle boarding or want to improve your skills, consider taking a paddle boarding course or lesson. Certified instructors can teach you proper techniques, safety procedures, and advanced skills. They can also provide valuable insights and tips specific to the Virginia Beach area, helping you make the most of your paddle boarding experience.

Paddle Boarding Events and Competitions in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is home to a vibrant paddle boarding community, with various events and competitions held throughout the year. Participating in these events not only allows you to showcase your skills but also provides an opportunity to connect with fellow paddle boarders and immerse yourself in the local paddle boarding culture. Here are some notable events and competitions in Virginia Beach:

Virginia Beach Paddle Fest

The Virginia Beach Paddle Fest is an annual event that brings together paddle boarders of all skill levels. Held in the scenic waters of Virginia Beach, this festival features races, demonstrations, and workshops. Whether you’re a beginner looking to try paddle boarding for the first time or an experienced racer seeking a challenge, the Virginia Beach Paddle Fest offers something for everyone.

East Coast Surfing Championship

While primarily a surfing competition, the East Coast Surfing Championship (ECSC) also includes paddle boarding events. Held annually in Virginia Beach, the ECSC attracts top surfers and paddle boarders from around the world. It’s a great opportunity to witness some of the best paddle boarding talent in action and experience the excitement of a major surfing and paddle boarding event.

Local Meetups and Group Paddles

Joining local paddle boarding meetups and group paddles is a fantastic way to connect with the Virginia Beach paddle boarding community. These informal gatherings allow you to meet fellow paddle boarders, share tips and experiences, and explore new locations together. Check online platforms, social media groups, or local paddle boarding clubs for information on upcoming meetups and group paddles.

Charity Paddle Events

Many paddle boarding events in Virginia Beach are organized for charitable causes. These events combine the love for paddle boarding with making a positive impact in the community. Participating in a charity paddle event not only allows you to paddle for a purpose but also gives you a sense of fulfillment and camaraderie as you contribute to a worthy cause.

Exploring Beyond Paddle Boarding: Other Water Activities in Virginia Beach

While paddle boarding is a fantastic way to enjoy the waters of Virginia Beach, there are also other exciting water activities that you can explore. Here are some options to diversify your aquatic adventures:


Kayaking is a popular water activity that allows you to navigate through Virginia Beach’s waterways at your own pace. Rent a kayak and explore the tranquil lakes, rivers, and bays, taking in the scenic beauty and wildlife. Kayaking offers a different perspective and a more intimate experience with nature compared to paddle boarding.

Jet Skiing

If you’re seeking a thrill on the water, consider jet skiing. Rent a jet ski and zip through the waves, feeling the adrenaline rush as you navigate the open waters. Jet skiing is a high-speed activity that offers a unique blend of excitement and freedom. Just be sure to follow safety guidelines and regulations while operating a jet ski.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Discover the underwater wonders of Virginia Beach through snorkeling or scuba diving. Explore the vibrant marine life, submerged wrecks, and colorful coral reefs that lie beneath the surface. Virginia Beach is home to various dive sites suitable for all levels of experience, making it an ideal destination for underwater exploration.


If you enjoy fishing, Virginia Beach offers excellent opportunities to cast your line and reel in some impressive catches. Whether you prefer surf fishing along the beach, casting off a pier, or venturing out on a fishing charter, Virginia Beach is known for its rich fishing grounds. Catch popular species such as flounder, striped bass, or red drum, and enjoy the thrill of the catch.

Boating and Sailing

For a more leisurely and relaxed experience on the water, consider boating or sailing. Rent a boat or join a sailing tour to explore Virginia Beach’s waterways at your own pace. Enjoy the freedom of cruising along the coast, anchoring in secluded coves, or simply soaking up the sun while drifting on the open water.


Embarking on a paddle boarding adventure in Virginia Beach is not only an opportunity to reconnect with nature but also a chance to challenge yourself and create lasting memories. With the information provided in this comprehensive guide, you’re well-equipped to make the most of your experience, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddle boarder. From exploring the diverse waters of Virginia Beach to choosing the right gear and locations, practicing proper techniques, and participating in events, this guide has covered everything you need to know. So grab your board, soak in the stunning scenery, and get ready for an unforgettable journey on the waters of Virginia Beach.

Jhonedy Cobb

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