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Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US and is not actually an island. Even though it doesn’t take you long to get from one side to the other, this little Northwestern wonder packs more than 40 miles of coastline, along with countless rivers and water bodies. So let’s talk paddle boarding in Rhode Island.
You can expect to see rugged coastlines and wonderful white sandy beaches and coves, ideal for swimming and a SUP. No wonder why Rhode Island is affectionately known as the Ocean State. And what’s more, Rhode Islanders are super friendly and are more than willing to share the local spots with tourists.
It may not be the cheapest place to vacation, but trust us when we say it’s worth every dime. With year-round attractions, amazing restaurants, thriving festivals and events, and dream worthy paddle board destinations, it’s no surprise why it’s an American favorite for summer fun.
So if you need inspiration on where to paddle board in Rhode Island, keep reading! Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll find somewhere amazing to explore by paddle board. Here are fifteen of the best places to SUP in the Ocean State.
East Greenwich Bay is a welcoming place for every level of paddle boarder. Stay within the bay area if you’re still mastering the basics; experts can venture further out to discover more of the coastline:
Locals always advise to paddle early in the morning for the sunrise in Greenwich Bay. Launch your SUP from the East Greenwich dock, paddle north for a short distance and then turn east following the shore of Goddard Park. You’ll be blessed with a beautiful rising sun over the water, making the early start worth it.
Greenwich is also a great place to give SUP fishing a try. You’ll find bass, bluefish, and scup (among other species) in these clear waters. Just be aware of other boats and people around you when casting out a line.
Narragansett Town Beach is a coastal paddle boarding heaven that is extremely popular in the summer months. So if you’re after a quiet and peaceful spot, maybe avoid this beach. However, it is a great training ground for newbies and anyone wanting to boost their confidence on a stand up paddle board.
From here, you can explore the rocky shorelines, paddling into the calm waters of Occupessantuxet Cove or Narrow River. Narragansett is also great for anyone who wants to give SUP surfing a go. The waves are generally gentle and rolling, so you’ll have a good chance of catching and riding them while keeping your balance.
Want to have a real adventure? Why not join one of the shark diving trips that run out of Narragansett! Don’t worry, the sharks aren’t close to the shore, so you’ll be safe paddle boarding the Town Beach and Occupessantuxet Cove.
Rhode Island Shark Diving offers a 12-hour boat trip on a research vessel that is used to film local marine life. Not only will you get to see the incredible sharks around Rhode Island, but you could also potentially sight whales, dolphins, mola-mola (sunfish), and mahi-mahi. These tours are available from mid-June to mid-September.
Here is a remote paddle boarding location in Rhode Island, perfect for those with more experience who want to get off the beaten track. The Upper Wood River is undeveloped, rural, and incredibly pristine. There are countless paddling opportunities along this 25-mile long river, cutting through both Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The Upper Wood River is an ideal location for SUP touring adventures and should keep most people busy for up to a week, if not longer! Sections of the river have Class I and II rapids. These are mostly beginner friendly with a gentle challenge, so ideal for anyone hoping to venture into the world of white water rapid paddle boarding.
Barber Pond is a popular fishing site. So why not take your inflatable paddle board, rods, and coolbox and join in with the fun! From Barber Pond, you can make your way up Chickasheen Brook to reach Yawgoo Pond. Both locations are beautiful and sheltered from strong winds.
Goosewing Beach in Little Compton is the best place for nature lovers. It’s part of the Goosewing Beach Preserve — a 75-acre historic landmark filled with unspoiled ponds, dunes, and the beach.
Access isn’t the easiest, but that’s part of this remote location’s charm and attraction. You need to park at South Shore Beach, then walk to the end of South Shore (about ten minutes) before crossing a small stream that leads to Goosewing. The beach is wide, with soft stretches of sand and beach grass in the dunes.
We recommend you take an inflatable paddle board for this adventure. You can pack everything you need into a SUP backpack and then spend the whole day off the grid in nature.
Newport has three main beaches, locally known as First, Second, and Third Beach. All are great places to visit, but each offers something different:
There are SUP rental stores located at First Beach for anyone that can’t bring their own gear. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas if you plan to spend a full day on the beach.
Conanicut Island is the sunset paddle boarding location in Rhode Island. You can also soak up all the beautiful views across other places, including:
There are several launch sites across the island and Jamestown region. We recommend you head to East Ferry Beach and paddle a short distance south towards Fort Wetherill State Park for the best views. Just watch out for hidden currents, channels between land can mean deceptive rips.
Johnson's Pond, also known as Flat River Reservoir, is a recreational gem located in Kent County in the central region of Rhode Island. This is a very calm and sheltered body of water, perfect for a relaxing day out floating on your SUP.
Beginners can learn how to paddle board, nailing the basic techniques without the challenge of wind. The more experienced paddlers can try their hand at some SUP yoga. And then the adventurous can go for an expedition from Johnson Pond down to Reynolds Pond, or vice versa – this is approximately a 5-mile paddle.
Mill Cove in Wickford is a perfect place to take the family. There is plenty for the kids to explore and make up adventures both on and off the water. It’s a quiet location with very little boat traffic, so it’s ideal for the little ones to give paddle boarding a go.
Why not bring your dog along for the ride as well? This is a perfect place to introduce your pooch to the world of paddle boarding. Check out our in-depth guide on how to paddle board with your dog for more details on making them feel safe while on a SUP.
Launch your SUP from the North Branch of the Pawtuxet River for a relaxing float downstream. There are plenty of sandy beaches along the river so you can take a break whenever you fancy.
Remember, when you paddle on a river, you need to check water levels as this will affect the flow speed in places and depth of where you’ll be paddling. We always recommend using stumpier river fins in your SUP ensuring you don’t catch on shallow parts of the riverbed.
Mohegan Bluffs is one for the adventurers. This beach is a great example of the rough and rugged coastline Rhode Island is most famous for. So if you’re wild at heart and want a challenge to paddle, this could be the place for you.
Make note, this is a rocky beach, and the waters can get choppy around the cliffs. Also, to access the beach you’ll have to climb down 141 steps, which also means you’ve got to come back up at the end. Perhaps pack the inflatable paddle board for this trip!
Westerly is on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island, and is one of the most historically significant places in the state. There are also some stellar places to take your stand up paddle board.
Launch from Frank Hall Boat Yard and get direct access to the great Atlantic Ocean. You can join early morning SUP yoga sessions or try out riding some waves during the day out in the open ocean. This is a super social place to paddle with plenty of friendly faces. If you’re looking to find your tribe, this is the place to start.
Watch Hill Beach embodies everything that people think of when they imagine New England. The town is charming filled with white picket fences and cute seaside shops. It’s quaint and picturesque. And the beach is breathtaking.
You can expect to find a wide beach with soft sand, gently rolling waves, and a friendly bunch of people (locals and tourists). This is a great place to come for a weekend of paddle boarding and relaxing vacation vibes.
Napatree Point is a hidden gem best visited in the off-season months. That way you’re guaranteed superb water clarity and breathtaking views – you just need to let the fog lift in the morning before hitting the water. You’ll be gifted with miles upon miles of glorious coastline and completely uncrowded waters.
In need of a safe beach to take the kids for a day out? Misquamicut Beach is the best place in Rhode Island. There are good amenities, plenty of places to get food, and lots of shaded areas. And of course, the beach itself is great.
There are three miles of soft sand and generally calm waters lapping at the shore. With lifeguards on duty as well, there isn’t a much safer place for you to get the kids out on a multi-person inflatable paddle board.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got your own paddle board gear yet. There are plenty of places to rent quality SUP equipment in Rhode Island. Here are a few suggestions across the Ocean State for you to check out:
Rhode Island has plenty of calm waters that are ideal for beginners to learn how to paddle board. One of the best places to master the basics and test out your newfound water balance skills is at Johnson Pond & Reynolds Pond. Here you will have minimal crowds, and the water is protected from strong winds.
Once you get more comfortable and confident, you could venture into the ocean or even take on the Upper Wood River. This is a gentle river that eases paddlers into the realms of white water and moving streams.
Both Mill Cove in Wickford and Misquamicut Beach in Westerly are fantastic places for families to paddle board in Rhode Island. The water is safe and sheltered from harsh winds, and the beach and woods surrounding are great for further exploration. Ideal for the kiddos to make the most of the summer in Rhode Island’s waters!
Yes! You can SUP surf in Rhode Island. Head over to Narragansett Town Beach for the best waves. Conditions tend to be gentle and mellow, perfect for taking a paddle board out into the surf. Make sure you remember your leash – you don’t want to have to swim after your board if you wipe out!
Rhode Island has some incredible seabirds all along the coastline. You could also spot turtles, whales, and a large variety of fish while on your paddle board in the ocean. If you’re paddling inland on ponds or down rivers, keep an eye out for deer on the banks in the woods.
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