January 22, 2024 8 min read

The Hidden Gems and Popular Spots of South America by SUP

South America, with its vast landscapes and mesmerizing waterscapes, is a hidden jewel for stand up paddle boards. As the sun rises over the Andes and kisses the tranquil waters below, one can't help but wonder about the unparalleled paddle boarding experiences waiting amidst the continent's winding rivers, pristine lakes, and secluded islands. 

Ready to dive in?

South America offers a harmonious blend of well-trodden tourist spots and undiscovered paddling paradises. Whether you're in search of serenity, adventure, or both, this continent has got you covered. Here are some of the most inspirational places you can enjoy touring paddle boards and discover the beauty South America has to offer.

The Amazon River

Amazon river, South America

Imagine navigating the world's largest river. Every paddle brings a promise of biodiversity and a sense of adventure. Paddle boarding the Amazon River is a bucket list experience and a trip that will last you a lifetime. As you paddle, exotic birds will be flying overhead, mysterious creatures lurking beneath, and the distant call of a howler monkey — the Amazon is nature's theatre. 

However, don’t be lulled into complete dreamland. Paddle boarding on the Amazon is no walk in the park. The river's vastness combined with its formidable currents demands respect. While the experience is awe-inspiring, first-timers should certainly paddle with an experienced guide and tour group for safety purposes.

For those embarking on this journey, the 12'6 Meno Touring is your trusted companion. And if you wish to pause and meditate amidst nature, the 10’6 Komodo will hold you steady.

Alter do Chão, Brazil

People swimming on Alter do Chão, Santarém

Of course, the Amazon is enormous! Due to the river's vast length and complexity, it's essential to identify safer and more suitable sections for paddle boarding. Alter do Chão, Brazil is often cited as one of the best places to paddle board on the Amazon. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Clear Waters – Known as the "Caribbean of the Amazon," Alter do Chão boasts pristine, clear waters, especially during the dry season. This clarity is a stark contrast to other parts of the Amazon River, which can be murky.
  • Ilha do Amor (Love Island) – This island is a popular spot in Alter do Chão. It emerges during the dry season and is surrounded by inviting waters perfect for paddle boarding.
  • Safety – The waters around Alter do Chão are calmer than the main sections of the Amazon River, making it safer for paddle boarding, especially for beginners.
  • Biodiversity – While it's a more tranquil spot for water activities, Alter do Chão is still part of the Amazon, which means you'll be surrounded by its rich biodiversity. From unique bird species to colorful fish, the wildlife encounters here are awe-inspiring.
  • Cultural Experience – Alter do Chão is not just about nature; it's also a vibrant cultural hub. You can mix your paddle boarding adventures with visits to local communities, sampling regional cuisine, and even joining in traditional celebrations.

If you're considering paddle boarding in Alter do Chão, it's essential to be mindful of the season. The best time is during the dry season, roughly from August to December, when the waters recede, unveiling beautiful beaches and sandbars. 

Always consult local guides or tour operators familiar with the area to ensure a safe and enriching paddle boarding experience.

Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia

Houses between body of waters

Lake Titicaca straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. It is not only the highest navigable lake in the world but also one of the most mystically enchanting. Its vast, clear waters are flanked by the Andes mountains and dotted with floating reed islands. Nestled between the snowy peaks, Lake Titicaca offers a paddling experience like none other. The crisp air and mirror-like waters reflecting the skies are a scene straight out of a postcard.

The elevation might leave you breathless, both from the views and the altitude! It's essential to allow yourself time to acclimatize. Along the way, the floating islands of the Uros people offer a unique cultural immersion.

Inflatable paddle boards are definitely a key item for a SUP excursion on Lake Titicaca. These boards are lightweight and portable, perfect for trekking to the heights of this dreamy location. The 10'6/11'6 Meno ensures you glide effortlessly across these high-altitude waters.

Puno, Peru

Isla de los uros, Puno

Lake Titicaca, with its shimmering blue waters and unique cultural backdrop, is a treat for paddle boarders. Puno is one of the largest cities along the shores of Lake Titicaca and serves as a primary gateway to the lake on the Peruvian side. Reasons to choose Puno include:

  • Infrastructure – Puno has a developed infrastructure with multiple access points to the lake, making it easier for you to launch your paddleboard. There are several local tour operators who can provide assistance, equipment rentals, or even guided SUP tours.
  • Safety – Given its popularity as a tourist destination, there are safety protocols in place, and you'll often find local guides who are familiar with the area's conditions.
  • Proximity to the Uros Floating Islands – Paddling from Puno, you can easily reach the fascinating Uros Floating Islands. It's an experience that combines paddleboarding with cultural immersion, as you get a glimpse of the Uros people's unique way of life.
  • Views – From Puno, you'll have panoramic views of the vast lake with the distant Andes providing a magnificent backdrop.
  • Accommodations – If you're staying overnight, Puno offers a range of accommodations, from budget hostels to luxury lakeside hotels. This convenience means you can start your paddleboarding adventure right at sunrise, a magical time on the lake.

However, it's essential to remember that Lake Titicaca is vast. If you're an experienced paddler and are looking for more isolated or unique experiences, there are other spots on both the Peruvian and Bolivian sides that you could explore. For instance, the Bolivian town of Copacabana offers a quieter ambiance and different perspectives of the lake.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Yes, that is right, you can paddle board the beautiful Galápagos Islands. A UNESCO World Heritage site, these islands are a love letter to nature enthusiasts. As you paddle, don't be surprised if a playful sea lion or a curious turtle accompanies you. Here, you can unleash your adventurous spirit.

Glide over crystalline waters teeming with marine life, from playful sea lions to graceful rays. Highlights include paddling near iconic species like the Galápagos penguin and the marine iguana. While marine life is abundant, it's vital to remember the preservation efforts and eco-friendly guidelines in place. Always be aware of protected zones.

Typically, launching from the main island of Santa Cruz, especially from Tortuga Bay, offers easy access to calm waters and scenic coastlines. If you are new to paddle boarding then we do recommend joining a tour group or booking a guide to give you some pointers. This way you can get the most out of your trip without worrying about the basics.

Engage in touring paddle boarding to explore diverse habitats, or take on SUP snorkeling to get an up-close look at the rich underwater world. Make memories with the 12'/15' Manta Ray Multi-Person, perfect for family adventures. Just remember to adhere to local conservation guidelines, ensuring that the Galápagos remains a pristine paradise for generations to come. Whether you're exploring secluded lagoons or open waters, the Galápagos offers a transformative SUP experience unlike any other.

Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del este beach, Uruguay

Punta del Este, often dubbed the 'Monaco of the South,' is a luxurious beach city located on the southeastern coast of Uruguay. It's a haven for many water sports, including paddle boarding, offering both amateurs and pros a delightful experience.

This spot offers fantastic diverse conditions. The bay side of the peninsula provides calmer waters, ideal for beginners or those wanting a relaxed paddle boarding session. You can enjoy a leisurely paddle while watching yachts drift by and the skyline of the city. Head over to the ocean side, notably Playa Brava, for more challenging conditions with waves, making it suitable for those looking to take out a surf paddle board.

Punta del Este has a growing community of paddle boarders. This means you can often find group paddles, classes, or even SUP yoga sessions to join. Some operators even offer moonlit or LED-lit paddle boarding sessions, creating a magical and surreal SUP experience on the shimmering waters.

To truly appreciate the translucent depths and swelling waves, you'll want the 10’6 Tidal Wave hard/epoxy under your feet. If yoga paddle boards are more your thing, check out the 11’6 Air.

Pucón, Chile

A man kayaking on the lake of Pucon, Chile

A land of contrasts. Calm morning paddles are juxtaposed against the backdrop of an active volcano, while thick forests on the shore whisper tales of the old. Nestled in Chile's picturesque Lake District, Pucón is a vibrant hub for adventurers, with its dramatic volcanic landscapes, pristine lakes, and dense forests. Paddle boarding in Pucón offers an exceptional way to witness its stunning natural beauty.

There are several highlights to taking your paddle boarding adventures to Pucón. Obviously, you are treated to an awe-inspiring view of the snow-capped Villarrica volcano while paddling here. It's a surreal experience to paddle with such a majestic backdrop. The waters are often crystal clear, giving paddlers a glimpse into the underwater world. Expect to see freshwater fish, and if you're lucky, some local birds soaring above.

We highly recommend a sunrise or sunset paddle here. The play of colors on the Villarrica volcano and the surrounding forests during sunrise or sunset creates a magical ambiance, perfect for a serene paddleboarding session.

Pucón SUP Launch Sites

  • Lake Villarrica – The main beach in Pucón town offers easy access to the lake, with multiple rental shops and guided tour providers in proximity. The lake's expansive waters mean you can enjoy a long, uninterrupted paddle, exploring various coves and inlets.
  • Caburgua Lake – Just a short drive from Pucón, this lake is a quieter alternative to Villarrica. It boasts clear blue waters and is surrounded by lush green forests, offering paddlers a tranquil environment.
  • Tinquilco Lake – Located in Huerquehue National Park, this is a perfect spot for nature lovers. It's more secluded than other options and offers pristine conditions for paddleboarding.

Why not share the fun with your little ones on the 8'/9' Cuda for Kids.


South America's vastness isn't just about land. Its waters, from the sprawling Amazon to the serene Lake Titicaca, promise paddle boarding experiences that remain etched in memory. There are so many utterly dreamy destinations, that it is difficult to pick which will be your next paddle board excursion!

So, what's stopping you? Dive in, paddle out, and let South America take your breath away.

Interactive Map


🏆 Which paddle board should I pick for the Amazon River?

The Amazon River offers a variety of conditions to navigate when paddle boarding. Often you will opt for the calm waters but you may occasionally come across strong undercurrents. A touring paddle board, like the 12'6 Meno Touring is ideal for its sturdiness and versatility.

👍 Are there any safety measures I should consider while paddle boarding in high-altitude locations like Lake Titicaca?

Yes, acclimatization is crucial when paddle boarding at altitude. Also, ensure you're well-hydrated and have proper sun protection. The sun's UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes. Ensure you apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Wear UV protective clothing, sunglasses, and a hat or cap to protect yourself from sunburn.

🏝️ Is paddle boarding allowed in all zones of the Galápagos Islands?

No. The Galápagos Islands is a protected national park. Some zones are protected for preservation and marine conservation purposes. Always consult local guidelines and if in doubt ask a local outfitter for guidance.

❓ Can beginners attempt paddle boarding in South America’s waters?

Absolutely! There are many places within South America that are perfect for beginners to enjoy paddle boarding. You can either rent a paddle board, take a lesson, or even join a guided tour group. Be cautious, however, there are areas with strong currents, like parts of the Amazon, that may require a higher level of skill.

📦 How do I join or contact the local paddle boarding community in these locations?

Most popular spots have local paddle boarding rental shops that can connect you with the community. Check out these tour operators and outfitters to find likeminded locals to help guide you through the destinations. Paddle boarding South America is dreamy and best shared with fellow travelers.

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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