Ocean vs. Lake Paddle Boarding

Though Lake and Ocean paddle boarding have various differences from each other, we can see that both have pros and cons. We'll go over those differences, breakdown things to consider when planning a SUP adventure, and give you our  recommendation for which you should choose.

As we all learned in school as kids, the Earth’s surface is 71% water. That gives you a lot of options for rivers, lakes, bays, and, of course, the seven seas.

Exploring the world can be done is so many different ways, the air, the ground, the VR system your Sister bought you for Christmas last year.

But, by far the water is our favorite for its unique perspective. So, you’re wondering what the difference is between paddle boarding on the Ocean vs. paddling on the Lake. Here is our breakdown.



Listen, there is a big difference when it comes to paddling on the Ocean and paddle boarding on flat water. The Ocean, with its’ waves and unpredictable weather conditions compared to a Lake which is a consistent flat water, most likely guaranteed decent parking and is much more predictable with weather.

Heading to the Lake kind of sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well we're going to make you scratch your head a bit with our excellent and well written points.

We just want you to be knowledgeable about both of these bodies of water and show you what it takes and what to look for to ensure your safety when paddle boarding on an Ocean or a Lake.


inflatable paddle board


We all know or have heard about the Ocean’s changing tides, currents and the diverse marine life. Before you go paddle boarding in the Ocean you have to make sure to monitor the weather, tides, and check up on your knowledge of SUP Safety Tips.

If you're unsure about how to tell if the Ocean is calm while you're out on the water and don't have service (or the guts to pull your phone out of your dry bag).

Pro Tip: While you're on the water, take a look around and notice if there is a high number of sea birds, such as, seagulls, sea ducks, etc. heading towards the open waters. This is a sign that the water will be calm, as these birds know to seek shelter during harsh or uneasy weather. 


shop inflatable paddle board


Additionally, you have to pay close attention to surfers, as to not disrupt them when launching or if you're planning on staying close to the shore. You can learn more about Paddle Surfing Etiquette here.

However, there is such a thing as (new hobby alert) Paddle Board Surfing which we've written a tutorial on how to do!

Depending on where you live or are visiting it might be necessary to wear a wetsuit because the Ocean can stay cold all year round. Don’t forget that you have to wear a lifejacket on top of that as well!


paddle boarding near me


Although this can sound very intimidating, more often than not, the Ocean will be in ideal conditions for stand up paddle boarding. The warm sun, light breeze and maybe who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky enough to be visited by some dolphins around your board. The Ocean is a big, awe-striking, and mysterious wonder of our planet that we’re blessed enough to explore in such a close way.

Similar to the Ocean, Bays are a great alternative to paddle boarding Oceans because they are more sheltered and don’t usually have any waves breaking onto the shore. There’s no doubt that Bays are more paddle board friendly, and can easily be found near the coast.



Stand up paddle boarding on a Lake is much easier for beginners than Ocean paddle boarding. It’s easier for a number of reasons, but if we just had to say one it’d be weather predictability. On a normal day, the mornings are calm, the afternoons a little breezy to moderately windy, and the evenings calm back down to still waters.

Needless to say, there will be no tides or currents pulling you away.

Depending on where you live the afternoons can become extremely windy (such as in Utah Uinta Mountain Lakes from 2-4 PM), but with that comes a simple solution of just monitoring the winds in that area on the weather app or the lakes park website.

Some cons of lake paddle boarding can include, less water to explore on (depending on the size), potentially small or no launching area (in rural areas), or no escape from loud children in the water (typically mountain lakes are very echo-y).


paddle board



As we spoke about earlier, the Ocean can be a temperamental pre-teen. One minute it’s calm and then the next your pushed off your board by the winds. To make sure that you’re prepared for the worst, it’s always best to have the specific type of paddle board that can handle the more difficult conditions or hobby you’re aiming for.

You can check out our Inflatable Collection that includes many SUP focuses, but we’ll go ahead and suggest the best for Ocean and Lake paddle boarding.

We recommend our O2 Quest Paddle Board because it’s an inflatable touring paddle board. Touring SUPs are longer, more slim, and have a pointed nose which will provide you with more paddling efficiency and performance when it comes to paddling against choppy waters. If you want to learn more about the O2 Quest you can find that here

We know that coming into the world of paddle boarding can get overwhelming fast, so we’ve written out a full guide to understanding the different paddle board shapes and what they mean that we highly recommend you check out for a more detailed breakdown.


inflatable paddle board


But for now, the touring shape that the O2 Quest has will provide the speed you will need to get through rough conditions all while improve and easily maintain you staying straight (aka your tracking).

Though we highly recommend our O2 Quest, we know this won’t be the best fit for everyone, as the touring paddle board is a much narrower SUP than our other boards which might not be comfortable for beginners who are afraid to get wet, or those who would rather not commit to a little more of a workout no matter what body of water you're on.

The O2 Retro is our All-Around Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board that can truly to do it all. This paddle board is a classic, old school shape and rocker, that will maximize your performance in any body of water.

You might be wondering about hard boards, and we certainly don’t want to leave them out, but to play devil’s advocate, Glide Inflatable Paddle Boards get nearly as rigid as our ultra-durable, infamous hard boards. Any concerns for losing rigidity should be confidently tossed aside.

Seriously. Take our word for it. You can check out our breakdown of Inflatable vs Hardboard if you need more details.


ocean paddle boarding



We have great news, there is no wrong answer here (unless you say one of our competitors’ names), but it should come as no surprise to you when we say that all stand up paddle boards perform amazing in Lakes.

You cannot go wrong with any specific Glide paddle board because the fact of the matter is Lakes, as mentioned earlier, are the best conditions you can hope for any shape or construction (inflatable or hard board).

Our recommendation will always be Inflatable Paddle Boards though as it’s the most convenient to transport for any vehicle, ability to hike with it (that’s right. I’m talking about total isolation paddle boarding for you and your friends), and can easily store in your apartment.

You can find Places to SUP for your own State. If we’re missing one then you can help us find the best spots (Lake or Ocean)! Contact us at info@glidesup.com.


paddle boarding near me



Though Lake and Ocean paddle boarding have various differences from each other, we can see that both have pros and cons. We strongly recommend getting as much experience with your own paddle board on a Lake or Bay to get familiar with carrying cargo on your SUP, dealing with set-up and take-down, and any problems that may arise, before attempting to join the surfers on the Ocean.

We would love to see you on your own Glide Paddle Board. Order yours today, and get it within just a few days!

If you need more convincing, check out Why Glide is better than other SUP brands.


Related Topics

Things to Consider When Buying a SUP

Improving Fitness on Paddle Board

Can I Leave My Paddle Board Inflated?

Hard VS Inflatable Paddle Board

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Worth It?