Pin on the map of Florida showing the location of Destin

Where To Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding In and Around Destin, Florida

Stand up paddle boarding has become one of the most popular water activities along Florida's Emerald Coast. The water sport, which originated in Hawaii in the 40s, has been growing in popularity over the last two decades due to Northwest Florida's comfortable climate and diverse options for calm waters. Here are some of the best places for stand up paddle boarding in the South Walton and Destin area.

YOLO by John Cross

The Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is our top pick for stand up paddle boarding when the water is calm. On a windless morning when the Gulf looks like a lake, it is the perfect time to be out stand up paddle boarding. By standing, paddlers can see down into the clear blue waters and see a variety of marine life, including fish, jellyfish, sea turtles, dolphins, and more. In addition, artificial reefs have been deployed along South Walton beaches, which attract many species and provide a fun opportunity for paddlers to view local marine life.

YOLO Western Lake

Coastal Dune Lake along 30A

Did you know that Scenic Highway 30A is home to the largest concentration of rare coastal dune lakes in the world? Not only are these rare geological features due to the way they connect with the Gulf of Mexico, but they are also home to both salt and freshwater species. We love that the lakes provide a scenic, calm, natural location to paddle and watch the osprey, blue heron, and seagulls look for their next meal. The hardest part is deciding which coastal dune lake to paddle. YOLO offers rentals from the WaterColor Boathouse for paddling Western Lake or local equipment rental companies, including Rent Gear Here, Live Well 30A & La Dolce Vita, will deliver boards to the lake of your choice.


Choctawhatchee Bay

The Choctawhatchee Bay along with its adjoining bayous and rivers offers an abundance of waterways to paddle. Stretching some 30 miles from end-to-end and spanning 4 to 6 miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is home to an abundance of marine life, including redfish, speckled trout, shrimp, oysters, gulf menhaden, blue crab, flounder, striped mullet, white mullet, and of course, the ever-delightful dolphins. The Choctawhatchee Bay is also home to endangered species, including the giant gulf sturgeon (think huge but harmless alligator-looking fish), which seasonally migrate through the bay up into the Choctawhatchee River system to spawn. There are plenty of locations to drop in, including the boat ramp at Hogtown Bayou or Pilcher Park at the base of the 331 Bridge. For easy rentals, visit the YOLO hut at the Baytowne Marina at Sandestin. In addition, LuLu’s Restaurant at the base of the Mid-bay bridge offers paddle board rentals on the Bay as well.

sup destin harbor

The Destin Harbor / Crab Island

For experienced SUP boarders, consider paddling around Okaloosa Island, along the Destin Harbor or out to Crab Island (be aware currents around Crab Island can change rapidly making a return trip more difficult). While during the summer season there are many recreational boaters (including pontoon rentals with inexperienced drivers), it is possible to have a safe and enjoyable paddle. Experienced paddlers may want to consider strapping on lights and enjoying a night paddle through the Harbor to enjoy the glow of the Harbor under the night sky.  

Morrison Springs 2


Florida's springs are windows into the past and places of tremendous natural beauty. In Northwest Florida, there a variety of options, including Morrison Springs, Vortex Springs and Ponce DeLeon Springs State Park. The closest springs to South Walton and Destin beaches are Morrison Springs about 40 miles north (just north of Bruce before you reach I-10).  Morrison Springs is one of the most popular diving spots in northwest Florida and well-known among stand up paddle boarders. This 161-acre park was acquired by the state in 2004 and has been leased to the county to maintain and preserve. The highlight of the park is a 250-foot diameter spring pool that produces and estimated 48 million gallons of crystal clear water each day and has been recorded to produce up to 70 million gallons of water a day. Three cavities allow Morrison Springs frigid waters, which remain at 65 degrees year-round, to surface from the underground aquifer. The calm crystal clear water offers the perfect environment for stand up paddle boarders to see fish, old growth, and a variety of underwater treasures.


Start Planning Your Next Beach Getaway

Ready to plan your next Destin vacation? View Newman-Dailey’s collection of South Walton and Destin vacation rentals online , including condominiums at Sanctuary at Redfish along Hwy 30-A overlooking Big Redfish Coastal Dune Lake. Or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652. Remember to always book direct for our best rate guarantee.

See you @ the beach!