Tips for Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Alaska


Expedition Team, Wilderness Explorer

For many, paddle boarding in Southeast Alaska is a great way to get an intimate connection with the water… and sometimes too intimate.

Fears of falling in to the 45 degree water can be a barrier for guests who have never done it before, and even for paddlers who have explored via paddle board in warmer waters.

Here are 3 tips and tricks for paddle boarding success in Alaska:

1. What to Wear

As a guide aboard the Wilderness Explorer and a former paddle board instructor, what a new paddler wears helps me determine how optimistic they are about their immediate future on the water.

Some head out in all of their warm layers. While others paddle in bikinis and swim trunks. Keep in mind that the average weather in Southeast Alaska during the summer is about 60 degrees and raining. A paddler dressed in the bare minimum has mentally embraced what they see as the inevitable – a “water opportunity.”

Paddle Boarding in Alaska

We suggest simple, warm clothing choices. No jeans or cotton. Light layers, and hiking pants. That way, you’ll stay warm. At least until you don’t.

2. Shoes or no shoes?

It turns out that paddle boarding becomes a lot more challenging if you can’t feel the board under your feet. Shoes with thick soles, like hiking boots and rain boots, separate your feet from the board and make it harder for your body to make balancing adjustments. Going out barefoot or wearing thin-soled sandals or tennis shoes should help you feel more stable and hopefully, relaxed.

3.Look where you want to go

Standing up can be a challenging element for the aspiring paddle boarder. It seems like an integral part of the activity (it’s called stand up paddle boarding after all). But keep in mind, you’re the one driving. You could choose to kneel or sit cross-legged on your board the whole time you’re out if that makes the experience more fun.

If you do choose to stand, start from all fours with the central handle of the board evenly between your knees. Then, one at a time, place your feet where your knees were, bringing you into a squatting position with your hands still touching the board in front of you.

First time paddle boarder

Looking up at the horizon line, slowly straighten your legs to stand. Often, looking down at the water beneath you will cause you to follow your gaze and take a drink you didn’t want.

Keep your hopes and your eyes high!

Loading Conversation