There can not be a more calming experience than standing up on your paddleboard, facing the sun setting over the water and the skies begin to fracture into ever-changing colors. Timing this can be incredibly tricky, and sometimes in the time it has taken you to pull your camera out, a thick grey cloud has appeared in front of the sun, sending your perfect scenery to ruin. There are, however, a plethora of fantastic locations where the sunsets are particularly spectacular more often than others. I have compiled a list for you today of watersides suited for paddleboarding that host spectacular sunsets more regularly than most.
Santa Cruz, California.
First up we have to have the famous Santa Cruz. Although the water can be chilly throughout the year, Santa Cruz boasts beautiful, bright sunshine that breaks the sky into incredible colors as it sinks below the horizon. paddleboarding is famously popular in Santa Cruz, meaning that there is a great water sports community in the area. With countless SUP shops, rental places, and many SUP enthusiasts, it is ideal for beginner abilities who need to ask more questions, rent a paddleboard, or get any equipment. The wave size is perfect for beginners too, and there are lots of lessons available to continually improve.
Lake Tahoe, California.
Next on my list has to be California as well. Lake Tahoe is a truly breathtaking natural wonder and is appreciated by locals and tourists alike for non-motorized water sports. paddleboarding, kayaking, and more are considered the perfect way to explore this lake, as they keep the scenery quiet and peaceful while allowing people to reap the benefits of water-based activity. Its waters are well-known for their tranquillity and glassy stillness… so glassy that you can see down to around 70 feet below the surface on a calm day. Due to the stillness, this water is incredibly reflective, and when the sun goes down, and the sky changes colors, you can see it perfectly reflected on the lake’s surface. Although it is framed by mountains, so you don’t see the sun go down directly below the horizon, seeing the water beneath you light up into a multitude of colors is absolutely fantastic. Again, this is an excellent spot for any beginner paddleboarders. With very light winds and a perfectly smooth surface, the water is easy to glide over with little experience.
With a significant change of scenery, next up is Seattle, Washington. The water surrounding Seattle: Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union, Green Lake, Elliot Bay, and the Pacific Ocean too, all are immensely popular among paddleboarders. So much so that there are races to participate in between May and September against other paddleboarders, which is a great way to meet other people, and is also really fun! The sunsets here are set against the inky city skyline, with the famous Space needle piercing the colors overhead, and planes flying up and down. While this is not as quiet as Lake Tahoe and other locations, it is a special experience to watch the action of the city as night takes over, while being removed from it at the same time. Seattle is a bustling, lively city, so you certainly won’t be short of anything to do while you are there. Although there may be fewer beachy SUP shops, you will undoubtedly meet people, as it is a fun and friendly place.
Lanikai Beach, Hawaii.
Coming in at fourth has to be Lanikai beach in Hawaii. Located in Oahu, Lanikai beach is unmissable if you are lucky enough to be visiting Hawaii. It is not only described as the ‘most beautiful’ of Oahu’s beaches, but it actually frequently ranks as one of the best beaches in the world. Its name ‘Lanikai’ actually means ‘heavenly ocean,’ which checks out when you lay eyes on the endless miles of brilliant blue that this beach has to offer. It is also a great beach due to the plethora of things you can do. It is dog and child-friendly, meaning your furry friends and small ones are welcome to splash about and have fun and has an abundance of great snorkeling spots to see fish through the crystal clear waters. paddleboarding specifically is a great adventure around Lanikai beach, since it is about an hour’s paddle away from the Mokulua Islands. This beach can be trickier to paddleboard in when the surf is up, so always be sure to check the weather before you go… especially if you are a beginner! It is extra important to be sure of your ability before setting out here since there is no lifeguard. The sunsets are famously incredibly across all of Hawaii, but on this beach, you can enjoy the moment with sea turtles, crabs, dolphins, and very occasionally, humpback whales. I can’t think of anything more magical than watching the sun go down and spotting a tail disappearing into the ocean at a distance.
Vilano Beach, Florida.
Finally, we have Vilano Beach in St Augustine, Florida. The sunsets here are so great that there are 376 photographs of them on St Augustine’s trip advisor page… need I say more? With a quieter ambiance than beaches like Lanikai, it is known as the place that locals go to, giving it a calm, casual atmosphere. Not only can you paddleboard here, but it is also popular among locals for shelling and hunting sharks' teeth. If you’re after a free souvenir with a cool backstory- that could be for you! Located in St Augustine, the things to do here are never-ending. The narrow cobbled streets are filled with fantastic places to eat, and Vilano beach itself is home to some of the best pizza places to head to once to the sun has gone down.
If any of these places sound like they could be the one for you, grab your paddleboard (or rent one), and go and chase that sunset!