February 17, 2022 6 min read

Paddle Boarding at Night

Man paddle boarding on a river at nightfall

Have you ever thought about paddle boarding at night? There are a few reasons people choose to take their boards out in the dark, whether that be limited daytime hours in fall or simply to enjoy a different SUP experience than they are used to. 

Paddle boarding at night comes with its risks, so it’s important to be well prepared and have a solid plan in place before heading out. 

If you’re planning on taking your SUP out in the dark, we’ve provided you with some tips, tricks, and important information to keep you safe and comfortable on your nighttime SUP adventure. 

Five Reasons Why Paddle Boarding at Night is Fun

You may be wondering why people paddle board in the dark when there are numerous opportunities to SUP in broad daylight. 

Everyone has different reasons, but your lifestyle, work schedule, and location can play a huge role in ditching the overcrowded daytime waterways and opting for a peaceful night paddle. 

It is Quiet and Less Crowded

Most people will choose to visit the local lake or river during the daytime, add on warm weather or a public holiday, and you’ve got yourself some massive crowds and little room to move. 

At night, there will be very few paddlers out on the water, so you’ll most likely have the place to yourself. 

The Lighting Required to Nighttime SUP Can Help You See Wildlife

When you take your paddle board out at night, it is a legal requirement to have adequate lighting. SUPs follow the same safety regulations as boats, and other boats need to see you to avoid potential collisions. 

Using SUP lights will help you see the surrounding nature and wildlife while you paddle through the water. Lights with floodlight capabilities can be attached underneath your board and will illuminate the water below you. 

Fish and aquatic animals are attracted to light and will swim up to your board and give you a private aquarium viewing. These experiences can’t be had in the day, and many nature lovers see this as a huge perk of nighttime paddling. 

There is Less Wind at Night

Man paddle boarding alone at night

During the night, the wind levels are calmer than in the day, and paddling against the wind can be a huge battle that will consume a lot of your energy. 

Paddling at night will reduce the chances of large winds and leave you with calm, flat waters and excellent paddling conditions. 

It Won’t Affect Your Daily Schedule

Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day and if you work full time, finding a time slot to take your board out between your busy schedule is nearly impossible. 

Sure, you can take your SUP out on the weekend, but then the waters will be busy, and your movements will be restricted.

This is one of the main reasons people like to paddle at night. It doesn’t interfere with your busy workday; you don’t lose awake time with your kids and the waters will be quiet so you can enjoy your trip. 

Paddling at Night is Fun

Paddle boarding is fun no matter what time you take your board out!

At night, you can get together with a group of friends, do a nighttime paddle and camping trip around your favorite lake, and even go on SUP tours. 

Location

The first thing you need to do before heading out on your night paddle is a safe and well-known location. 

The ocean can be unpredictable and should be avoided at all costs. The limited visibility, along with strong currents and waves, can pose serious threats and put you in danger. 

A bay, lake, slow-flowing river, or harbor will be your best bet when choosing your SUP destination. These locations may have restricted hours, so it’s vital to check beforehand if you can paddle there. 

Create a Plan

Man paddle boarding using a komodo inflatable paddle board

Check the Weather

Checking the weather before you head out is extremely important and could save you a lot of time. 

Paddling in strong winds or a storm isn’t safe, and your trip to the location would have been wasted. It’s best to check the local weather forecast and make an informed decision before you set off.

Plan Your Route

Plan the route you’ll take and estimate how long it will take you to paddle it. As you’ll be paddling at night with very few people around, it is best to inform someone of this route, and the total time you’ll be out for, so if anything happens, they know where and when to look for you. 

Take a Tour

Nighttime SUPing can be a daunting activity. If you’re new to nighttime paddling, you can find a local tour company to go with. 

Tours are great because they provide all the necessary equipment and skilled tour guides who can help you in an emergency. 

Paddle With Friends

Not only is paddling with your friends a fun activity, but it also adds a level of safety to your nighttime outing. When you take a buddy along with you, they can help in unsafe situations and bring you back to safety. 

Things to take

Man paddle boarding on a river using a GILI komodo inflatable paddle board

Bug spray

Bugs love to come out at night, and if you’re in a location where bugs and mosquitos are common, packing a can of bug spray will prevent any annoying bites from happening. 

Headlamps

Not all people enjoy wearing headlamps and prefer a light mounted onto their board, but a headlamp gives you an extra light source that travels in the direction of your eyes. 

If you’re a nature lover, a headlamp can illuminate the surrounding wildlife in the exact direction you want to look in. If you just use a mounted light, however, you’ll need to paddle and turn yourself, which for some, can be strenuous and annoying. 

Lights 

A paddle board is considered a vessel, so it is a legal requirement to have lights on your SUP with you. 

Many paddlers like underwater LED lighting that attach to the bottom of the board and surround the board with a colored glow. These lights help you navigate through the water, and they also help spot underwater obstacles. 

Alternatively, you can use a light that can be fitted onto an action mount. Both the Suptig Diving Light and the GoPro - Light Mod are great examples and will illuminate your path and help you see in the dark. 

Food and Water

No matter what time you paddle, taking food and water out with you should be a no-brainer. Something may happen on your trip, and being left without food or water could be life-threatening. 

Whistle

A whistle is an important piece of equipment that you should take on every SUP adventure. Whistles help attract the attention of passersby and putting these proper safety precautions in place can help you in serious situations.

Clothing

Woman paddle boarding with dog at night

Types of Clothing to Wear

There are a few things to think about when deciding on your nighttime SUP clothing. As bugs come out at night, opting for clothing that covers most of your skin will help in preventing bug bites.

As there is minimal lighting and limited visibility at night, reflective and bright clothing can easily be seen by others in an emergency. 

The time of year will also affect the clothing you wear. If you're brave enough to head out in fall or winter, a wetsuit or drysuit, along with warm clothing, will be your best option. 

PFD

It is required by law to wear a personal floatation device when you’re out on the water, which is especially important at night. 

A personal flotation device is an important piece of gear that can save your life if something were to happen. 

You should purchase a PFD that is the right fit for you, and you should also regularly check it over for any damage. 

FAQ’S

🏆 How do you paddle board at night?

Paddling at night isn’t much different from paddling in the day except for the fact you need to add additional lights to your board. 

You can either purchase an LED light that is mounted to the top of your board, or one that sits underwater on the bottom of your board. Both these options will light up your path and increase your visibility while out on the water. 


👍 Is it safe to paddle board at night?

It is safe to paddle board at night if you implement all the relevant safety precautions. 

If you’re nervous or new to SUPing, you can join a group tour with experienced guides who will be on hand throughout your entire excursion. 


🏝️ What do I need to paddle board at night?

To paddle at night, you need a paddle board, paddle, PFD, water, and a mounted or underwater light. 


❓ What are the best locations for paddle boarding at night?

The safest places to paddle are calm and quiet waterways like lakes, rivers, bays, or harbors. Although the ocean may seem like a good idea, it can be unpredictable and risky so should be avoided at all costs. 


📦 Are there night paddle boarding tours and excursions?

Yes! Many companies offer night tours and excursions. Going on a tour adds an extra layer of safety because you’re accompanied by experienced and trained tour guides who can help you out in emergencies. 

Tours are also great for people who are new to SUPing in the dark, as heading out in the dark alone can be daunting. Additionally, the companies will provide all necessary equipment, so you don’t need to source it yourself. 

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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