How Stand-up Paddle Boarding has grown to popularity through the years

Learn how Stand up paddle boarding has exploded through the years and the reasons why.


Every year more and more people are out paddling around on their paddleboards. Bodies of water that were once surrounded by kayaks and canoes are now being overshadowed by these floating devices. Why such a sudden rush of paddle boarders? When and how did it become so popular seemingly overnight?

paddle board surfing in hawaii

There are many reasons why, but first let’s dive into some brief history of stand-up paddle boarding.


Back to when Paddle boarding began:

Circle back the clock all the way to 3000 B.C, yes you read that correctly. The first evidence of early boats similar to paddle boards goes all the way back that far in many regions around the globe.


glide paddle boards

It might seem outlandish, but building boats to cross water at that point in history was expensive and required quite a lot of personal labor. Ancient paddlers didn’t have GLIDE on speed dial to ship any paddle boards back then after all.

The most similar model of this personal floatation device was used in Peru and was composed of unstable reeds, in a sort of board boat hybrid.

The modern SUP that we know today, however, was first used in the 1940s off the coast of the Hawaiian islands. That is where modern stand-up paddle boarding kicked off.

Using Paddleboards for surfing:

When paddle boarding started making its appearance in the Hawaiian islands. After introduced, it was called "beach boy surfing". Named after a group of locals called the Waikiki beach boys.

The beach boys taught tourists and visitors about paddle surfing. Using the paddle board for surf boarding spread across the globe and by the 1990s, became a full-blown water sport of its own. At last there was an alternative to a surf board.

woman paddle board surfing

Now paddleboards were being used for high-intensity racing. With all these developments in mind, brands began to upgrade the boards themselves. Bringing many different shapes and densities to allow for frictionless movement through rough waves and river rapids.

Paddle surfing also offered a quick way to paddle toward waves without having to lie on the stomach as traditional surfing requires. This opened up the possibilities to a larger range of people including those with disabilities. In 2004 paddle boarding was added as a category in the Buffalo Big Board Contest, which helped SUP surfing gain recognition as a proper water sport.

Paddle board touring rises:

Paddle board touring came about later in the 2000s and made quite a mark on the industry for SUPs. Users were making treks through long stretches of flat water and staying inland to paddle around more leisurely. Taking stand-up paddle boarding to the next level.

paddle boarding on a lake

This rise brought the design of the displacement hull. The displacement hull allowed the boards to glide across the flat water smoothly. The designs became more rounded for stability and floatation rather than SUP racing or surfing.

 People started to rent modern stand-up paddle boards. Now even beginners could enjoy gliding around the shallows on their board with little difficulty.


 Enter the era of Paddleboard yoga, namaste:

One of the biggest booms in the popularity of stand-up paddleboards comes in the form of…yoga? In the mid-2000s, Yogi’s around the world were introducing classes for SUP yoga and teaching all the techniques to become a master at the sport. The community was growing larger and larger due to the instant appeal. Around this time the innovative inflatable paddle board was introduced.

woman doing sup yoga

This style and material allowed for the stability and width necessary to perform all the yoga positions with plenty of room. It also gave way to simple compact storage and travel. Until the ISUP, hard boards were large and heavy and needed specific storage and transportation. No roof rack? Good luck getting your board to the water. With the creation of inflatable sup boards, getting your board to the water was easier than ever! 

Who would have thought, yoga on a floating platform would make such a great core workout. Paddle board SUP yoga still remains extremely popular and the community keeps on growing larger and larger every year due to social media and yoga influencers.

Paddleboards implement fishing gadgets and storage:

The latest additions to SUPs reach another community at large: Fisherman. Boards were created with extra storage space within and pole holder attachments. This was a huge opportunity for the fishing community to have an easily transportable version of a fishing boat. Not only that, but the cost would be much lower and allow for easy gliding across the water surface without disturbing the fish. SUP fishing is on of the best ways to get the catch of the day!



woman on a glide touring paddle board

There have been many fishing attachments since then that allow for an easy, comfortable, affordable fishing experience over deeper water without having to take up any space.



With all the advancements and communities paddle boarding caters to, it’s no wonder it has blown up in popularity over the last few years! There are so many diverse ways to use SUP in your own life. It can offer a peaceful gaze at nature, a mindful yoga session, an intense race, surfing over waves, or simply kicking back waiting for your next catch. Over the last few years, the outdoor community itself has steadily grown, looking for more innovative ways to experience mother earth. With more and more people being cooped up inside, or addicted to technology use, paddle boarding gives you the escape to find yourself. 

kids on glide paddle boards