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August 27, 2021 9 min read

Where to Paddle Board in Tampa

Clearwater beach sunset tampa florida

It’s no secret that Florida is alluringly full of steaming hot paddle board spots. The turquoise waters and high temperatures down in the Gulf are an ideal combination for taking out a SUP

One of the top destinations to paddle board Florida is the one and only Tampa. 

This fast-growing USA city is trendy. From the beautiful Caribbean Gulf waters to the shores of Clearwater and St Petersburg – trust us, Tampa is a place you want to be seen. 

Similar to Florida’s Key West, paddle boarding in the Tampa Bay region offers plenty of natural beauty, tropical weather conditions, and sheltered locations. Busch Gardens is a popular tourist attraction that is well worth a visit if you have time in between SUP sessions – an amusement park and zoo that will keep all the family entertained. 

Tampa Bay’s climate is generally hot and thunderstorms can be frequent in the summer seasons. But stand up paddle boarding in Tampa Bay is possible all year round.

Soak up the Cuban influences and explore this vibrant city via beautiful waterways. Discover more epic paddle board places in the USA. Get paddle boarding in Tampa this summer!

Paddle Board Florida Season To Season

Paddle boarding in Tampa Bay is available all year round. The humidity is the changing factor across the seasons in Florida. And it’s important to remember that Tampa is a popular center for tourism. 

The Bay is well known for hot days and dreamy sunsets. The water is often a refreshing cool down for a mid-paddle dip. But each season does offer slightly different paddle boarding conditions that may affect where you choose to take your SUP.

Season
Summer

June-Sept – tourist high season and busiest period for paddle boarding enthusiasts searching for the best SUP spot. Rental shops will be emptied by holidaymakers, and the beaches will be full, so we advised you to buy your own stand up paddle board and gear. This will also allow you to reach destinations off the beaten track and away from the crowds. Once you find a hidden gem, make sure you keep it a secret!

Fall

Sept-Nov – early Fall can get hot and sticky, but then, the window before winter draws in offers some of the best conditions for paddle boarding. Tourist levels drop, rental stores will have gear available, and the sunsets are simply breathtaking.

Winter

Nov-Feb – the coolest season to paddle board in Tampa with nighttime temperatures falling to no lower than 51ºF (daytime reaching a comfortable 74ºF). It’s likely you’ll have some of most of the epic SUP locations almost to yourself, with only the local residents to share with. Winter months are perfect for remote weekend getaway.

Spring

March-May – this is Tampa’s most desirable season for paddle boarders with 68-80ºF temperatures, low humidity, and gentle winds on the coastline. Spring is perfect for that road trip you’ve always been dreaming of! Beat the tourist high-season for the most idyllic paddle boarding adventure.

Best Places To Paddle Board In Tampa

Explore the Tampa area with your paddle board, discover the Floridan wildlife and immerse yourself in the sub-tropical nature and water.

Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve Tampa Florida

The Weedon Island Preserve is a 4-mile paddling trail that takes you through mangroves and over seagrass beds. Its expansive 3,190-acre natural area is home to countless native species and a rich ecosystem. 

Narrow waterways provide mystery and wonder around every corner, making each paddle board session unique and adventurous. Plus, it’s only 15 minutes out of St Petersburg FL, so you can easily snag an end of day paddle after work.

Weedon Island Preserve is a popular SUP paradise in Tampa and iconic of the St Pete area. There are boardwalks and walkways throughout the natural park which are ideal to explore for non-paddle boarder. Be sure to check the tide times, as well as the water quality, to ensure they’re high enough to paddle the whole trail and get the most out of Weedon Island Preserve.

Hillsborough River

Hillsborough River State Park Tampa Florida

Hillsborough River flows for 54 miles, from Green Swamp down to Hillsborough Bay in downtown Tampa. A lot of the river is protected wilderness areas, but there is a 30-mile paddling trail outlined for kayakers and paddle boarders. This designated section runs from Hillsborough River State Park to Rowlett Park in Tampa.

The middle section of Hillsborough River attracts quite a crowd of water sports enthusiasts and is a popular paddle boarding spot in the cooler months. There are several suitable launch points along the river as well as recreational parks, perfect for taking the family for a day out.

The Hillsborough River is a fairly calm and gentle ride so it’s suitable for beginners. However, after heavy rainfall the currents can get stronger. Just remember to check the conditions and set out with safety in mind. Inflatable paddle boards are recommend for river SUP adventures because of the extra level of durability from the PVC bottom.

Lettuce Lake Park

Lettuce lake park mangrove tampa florida

Lettuce Lake Park is 240 acres of water space and mangrove jungles. Entrance costs $2 per vehicle and there is a water sports rental store within the park. There is a 350 foot boardwalk that flows through the park as an option if you wanted to scope out the waterways before getting in with your SUP.

Local residents include the American alligator and snapper turtles. As long as you give them space then they will not bother you. But do keep your eyes looking to the banks for shadows and movements. At least the adrenaline of seeing a ‘gator will give you a boost for paddle strength!

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island clear water tampa florida

Caladesi Island is simply breathtaking. The turquoise waters and white sandy shores will leave you wanting more. This State Park encompasses everything idyllic about Florida’s coastline and offers mesmerizing paddle boarding experiences. 

One side of the island is in Gulf waters, the other side is directly to the ocean but still with mostly calm conditions. The minimal waves make it ideal for beginners and casual paddle boarding sessions. With the right conditions, a gentle wave does break on the oceanside of Caladesi Island so you can give SUP surfing a go before heading up the coast to bigger waves. 

If you are looking for an alligator free spot only 15 minutes away from Clearwater, then this is the place for you. We recommend sticking around for the sunset sinking down on the Gulf side. Remember to bring your camera to capture the moment!

Fred Howard Park

Fred howard park tampa florida

Fred Howard Park is another absolute favorite in the Tampa Bay area, accessed by driving over a mile-long causeway into the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful crystal clear waters surround the park with white sandy beaches providing several spots to easily launch your SUP from. 

This spot is popular for sunset watching and swimming in the calm waters. In the whole of Tampa Bay, Fred Howard Park is the perfect place to try a session of SUP yoga. Test your balance in downward facing dog, warrior poses, or maybe even a headstand in the most idyllic spot in Florida. 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon springs sunset beach tampa florida

Tarpon Springs is a popular day trip destination from Tampa or Orlando Florida. The place is filled with delicious restaurants, boutique shops, and a quirky history to keep the whole family entertained. Named as the ‘Sponge Capital of the World’ with beautiful beaches hugging the Gulf waters, Tarpon Springs is definitely not to be missed!

We recommend you take your SUP over to Sunset Beach for a late afternoon paddle. Take a set of beach chairs and enjoy the sunset show with a beverage, or stay in the water for an even better view.

From Tarpon Springs, you have easy access to Fred Howard Park and Anclote Key Preserve State Park, both equally beautiful and idyllic places to take a stand up paddle board.

Fort De Soto Park (Shell Key Preserve)

Fort Desoto park preserve tampa florida

If you are keen on some waterfront camping and a weekend retreat to nature, then Fort De Soto Park is the place for you. Campgrounds are available right on the beach and are surrounded by incredible natural beauty. 

Fishing from the insanely long pier is also popular. So why not take it to the next level and cast your line right from your SUP? Just bear in mind that you will need to purchase a fishing license from Fort De Soto Park management. 

St Pete Beach

St pete beach clear waters tampa florida

St Pete is the coastal counterpart to the larger city similarly named (St Petersburg). It’s best known for its beaches and water sports scene. St Pete beach offers kiteboarding, windsurfing, parasailing, and of course, stand-up paddleboarding. 

This is often considered one of the best beaches in Florida and rarely gets overcrowded making it perfect for trying paddle boarding. With the pristine sand and crystal clear waters, there really is no better place to learn how to paddle board.

Little Manatee River

Little manatee river tampa florida

About 20 minutes east of downtown Tampa Bay is the 40-mile Little Manatee River. Complete with twists and turns make this spot great for a watery adventure before widening and becoming brackish near the bay. It also has a designated 10-mile stretch that’s great for beginners.

Little Manatee River is an ideal place to come for wildlife spotting. As the name suggests, manatees can be seen here, along with other marine life, birds, and amphibians. This hidden gem is popular with Tampa locals and doesn’t get crowded, which means you can make the most of paddling over these beautiful waters. 

Myakka River

Myakka river state park tampa florida

If you’re after an adventure and want to explore further afield, then add Myakka River to your list. You can paddle with alligators along this epic 60-mile river and explore one of Tampa’s most remote paddle boarding destinations.

We recommend you get a permit from the ranger if you go farther south than State Road 72. There is an entrance fee to Myakka River State Park costing $6 per vehicle, while camping is $26 per night (not including tax and reservation fees) – not a bad price to take a walk on the wild side!

Terra Ceia Preserve

Terra ceia preserve mangrove forest tampa florida

Terra Ceia Preserve is a 2,000-acre aquatic reserve with mangrove forests and saltwater and freshwater wetlands. The land spaces are rough and wild, but from the water, you can discover more about this incredible part of Tampa Bay. 

There are zero facilities here, like restrooms, but that is the beauty of the spot. It’s a true escape to nature. If you are a beginner, make sure you bring a buddy along with you. This is mainly for your safety as it is a quiet spot to paddle board, but it also means you get to share this incredible experience with a friend. 

Robinson Preserve 

Robinson preserve mangrove waterways tampa florida

With mangrove waterways and salty marshes, the Robinson Preserve is another spot with alligators for residents. The 600+ acre water parkland is home to countless native species, creating a diverse and vibrant ecosystem. 

There are facilities, picnic tables, and board rental stores in the Preserve making it ideal for a family outing. If you have your own SUP gear, launch from 9800 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton 3420. This launch site is also the area where dolphins and manatees gather. If you’re lucky, you may even get a welcome from these playful marine animals.

Best Places To Paddle Board Out Of Tampa

Silver springs state park tampa florida

Are you wanting to explore further? Head out of Tampa for a couple of hours and you will be able to find even more beautiful paddle boarding destinations worth dreamy about:

  • Chassahowitzka River– perfect for a camping trip, 1 hour north of Tampa Bay
  • Rainbow Rivers (Withlacoochee) – long designated trails to paddle, 1 hour 40 minutes north of Tampa Bay
  • Silver Springs State Park– Florida’s first tourist attraction dating back to the 1870s, 2 hours north of Tampa Bay

Top Paddle Boarding Rental Stores in Tampa Bay, Florida

Don’t have your own SUP gear yet? Don’t worry. There are plenty of paddle board rental stores in Tampa that you will be able to get kitted out from:

High seasons do get super busy though. So buying a SUP of your own is a good idea to avoid disappointment if you plan to travel in the peak season.

FAQ’S

🏆 Where can I paddleboard in Tampa?

Tampa is full of incredible paddleboarding spots that offer crystal clear waters and heaps of marine life to spot from your SUP. St Pete Beach is one of the most popular places to paddle board for the locals, while Weedon Island Preserve and Hillsborough River are hot spots for tourists in the peak seasons. 

Rivers, mangroves, and marine preserves dominate the landscape in Tampa Bay. Finding a place to paddle board here really is not difficult.


👍 Where can I paddleboard in clearwater?

Fred Howard Park is the best place to paddleboard in Clearwater. Accessing this spot begins the adventure as you drive over the mile-long causeway. You are then greeted by white sandy beaches, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and calm flat water conditions.


🏝️ Where can you paddle board in Florida?

Paddle boarding Florida is a real treat for water lovers and adventure seekers. Key West is unbelievable and offers similar experiences to paddle boarding in Tampa. There are so many amazing spots to explore by SUP along Florida’s Panhandle, the West Coast, the East Coast, and Palm Beach County. 


❓ When is the best time to paddle board in Florida?

Spring is often voted as the best season to paddle board in Florida. The temperatures are at a comfortable level without the humidity making everything sticky. It also avoids the high season for tourists visiting the state. Beaches and other paddle board spots in the high season are packed with holiday makers.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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