Take your stand up paddle board Down Under to explore the water systems of one of the world’s largest countries, which also happens to be its own continent. The best SUP spots in Australia may be scattered far and wide across this country’s vast and unexplored territory, but that also means each is stunningly unique, both in SUP water quality and the diverse wildlife and natural landscapes.
This 344km long river winds its way through southeast Australia, emptying out into Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. Although actually SUPing along the entire length of the river will be more than a challenge, you can explore it over several days. Sightseeing the third largest city in Australia from the calmness of the river will give you a unique perspective on Queensland’s urban life. Aside from skyscrapers, you’ll see people rock climbing on the prominent Kangaroo Point Cliffs and glimpse across the botanical gardens on the opposite bank.
On the east coast of Australia, about three and a half hours north of Sydney lie a series of islands surrounded by rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Although you’ll have fun exploring the thin waterways between the lush islands, there’s another reason this is one of the best SUP spots in Australia. Forster Island’s annual Paddle Festival offers a variety of SUP competitions ranging from 5k and 10k races as well as battle of the paddles. Even if you don’t compete in the festival, consider checking out the online course maps to inspire your SUP adventure.
This little island about 18km off Australia’s western coast is worth visiting in its own right. The entire island is a protected reserve full of unique wildlife and adorable quokkas, a happy-looking, furry critter that looks like a cross between a koala and a kangaroo. Who wouldn’t want to see that during a leisurely SUP trip along the shores? However, there’s more than fluffy animals on Rottnest Island. It also happens to be one of the best downwind SUP spots in Australia, and the site of The Doctor, a grueling 27km downwind ocean race from Rottnest Island to Sorrento Beach held every November.
This Sydney suburb juts out at the tip of a peninsula to form a unique boundary between the sheltered bay of the same name and the ocean, giving SUPers a unique opportunity to move freely from the bay out into the Tasman Sea. The bay offers smooth SUPing along beautiful beaches with views of Sydney’s skyline and the Sydney Harbour National Park. Want to bring your dog? No problem. The Every Man & His Dog competition held in January teams SUPers with their furry friends for a day of competition and cuteness. If you’re new to SUPing this may also be a good place to start. There are some SUP schools and rental options along the Bay side. The eastern side brings contrasting views of the Gap, roughly cut seaside cliffs.
Port Phillip Bay
Melbourne’s large bay, Port Philip, offers over 200km of protected coastline for you to peruse. Although the waters are perfect for a calm flatwater paddle, the bay’s playful dolphins might turn a solitary sunrise paddle into a game. Distance lovers can take advantage of the circular nature of the bay to plan a route from one beach to another. It’s not hard to find paths that range from a simple 5km to marathon distances.
Although this lake is small, few other places offer such nourishing tranquility. Located within a national park, it is the perfect escape from urban life. Its shore is framed by beech trees, verdant pines, and the prominent snowcapped peaks of Cradle Mountain. Flatwater paddlers will want to take their time as they slowly move through this oasis, where incredibly clear waters reveal the pebble covered bottom and mirror-like reflections of the incredible landscape.
Lake Pedder wouldn’t be the largest freshwater lake in Australia if humans hadn’t dammed two rivers to flood the lake in the 1970s. Despite its purposeful amplification, the lake is one of Australia’s best flatwater spots and worth exploring on your SUP board. The astounding azure water is surrounded by rolling hills and small islands. With plenty of calm winding waters to explore, you’ll have time to contemplate both the power of nature and man.
One of the most scenic flatwater SUP spots in Australia, Onkaparinga River flows from the mountains and empties out in the Port Noarlunga estuary. With 95km in length, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the diverse landscapes along the river banks. Although you’ll pass through forested areas, the real gem is the estuary. Tall grasses and amber cliffs line the estuary. The river curls out into the ocean, leaving little warm sandy patches that glow like embers at sunrise. Currumbin Beach
Hinze Dam / Lake Advancetown
Located on the Gold Coast, Hinze Dame is a popular SUP spot among locals. Although technically a dam, its reservoir has become known as Lake Advancetown. Containing the water has forced it into unique tendril-like paths through surrounding hills and left hilly islands that dot its center. Tall grasses and even trees rise out of the water along the coast, so you’ll feel like you’re floating through another world as you make your way through this flatwater spot. If you’re feeling up to it, bring your fishing pole, the lake is full of bass and spangled perch.
Although the beach itself is precious, with clear shallow waters, SUPers and surfers alike will flock to the Alley. This right hand point break forms long, inviting waves popular with longboarders. However, despite the fun, consistent surf, the water is relatively calm, making it a popular place to try to catch your first break on a SUP board. It’s not uncommon to see several people paddling out on their surf or SUP boards to enjoy the peels, so make sure you follow etiquette.
By checking the best SUP spots in Australia off your list, you’ll not only experience SUPing in a unique environment, you’ll also traverse the continent. What could be better than seeing the Australia’s incredible biodiversity and some of the world’s most modern and livable cities from the perspective it’s most vital sources, its waterways? Keep in mind that many of these locations have rental boards available, or you can easily travel with a good inflatable stand up paddle board if you already have one at home.
image credit: Briskites