With the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its shores, the Charles River flowing through the city, and the innumerable harbors, lakes, and ponds found in and around city limits, Boston is a prime spot to check out one of the fastest growing and most popular watersports around, Stand Up Paddling (SUP). Not only is SUP a great way to explore secluded coves and coastlines throughout the Boston area, but it provides a great workout as well.
“It’s a great way to see the river and the city,” said Peter Casson, general manager of Boating in Boston. “It’s also a great way to exercise and get outside with the family and friends.”
If you are interested in SUP and are looking for more information about the how, the where, and the when then you’ve come to the right place. Check out BIC SUP’s How to SUP or visit a local outdoor shop in your area for rentals, lessons, and general information about the sport—see our additional resources below.
In terms of the where, here are three of the top SUP spots where you can explore the rivers, harbors, and lakes around Boston:
The Charles River
There are ample opportunities for SUP along this 80-mile long river that runs from Hopkinton, home to the start of the Boston Marathon, through various cities and towns until it winds its way through Cambridge and into Boston. Once in town, photo opportunities abound for stand-up paddlers, with amazing views of Cambridge and the Boston skyline.
There are many spots to put-in all along the river. Both Charles River Canoe and Kayak and Boating in Boston have locations up and down the river’s shore. Rentals and classes for all levels are offered through both shops. “One of our favorite paddleboards is BIC SUP,” said Peter Casson, General Manager at Boating in Boston. “We sell their boards and use them for instruction and guided tours. The people that work for BIC are as passionate about the sport as we are. And, they are environmentally correct as well.”
This summer, Boating in Boston will offer the BIC One Design Challenge, a chance to race your friends or fellow stand-up paddlers around a buoy course during evenings in July and August. Don’t worry, it’s perfect for all levels from the rookie to the seasoned paddler. “It’s all in good fun,” said Casson. “Everyone wins.”
Most famously known for being home to the start of the Boston Marathon, Hopkinton also houses the Hopkinton State Forest, more than 1,500 acres of natural forest, which includes a 175-acre a spring fed lake, which is perfect for SUP. Explore the lake’s three islands and enjoy the quiet solitude of the lake and natural surroundings. A short 30-minute drive from downtown Boston, when there is no traffic, Hopkinton State Park helps visitors feel miles away from the heat and bustle of the city streets in the summertime. Boating in Boston offers SUP rentals and classes for beginners and more experienced stand-up paddlers right at the lake. Casson explains 80 percent of the Boating in Boston staff are nationally qualified instructors. “They are trained, with experience, and know how to get people up on the board—even the most apprehensive.”
Head to South Boston, Southie as the locals lovingly refer to it, to a secret three-mile stretch of sand along the South Boston waterfront and Dorchester Bay. It’s minutes away from downtown Boston and great spot to SUP, providing amazing views of the Kennedy Library, Boston Harbor Islands, Fort Independence and the Boston Skyline. Rent a board from Boating in Boston for $20 an hour and paddle out to enjoy the water and the views.
There are many other locations to SUP in and around Boston. One of the best things to do is to find a retailer that deals in SUP. As mentioned above, they can tell you where to go and give you the gear you need to get it done. Here are a handful of shops in your area that can help you out.
Boating in Boston, 2401 Commonwealth Ave, Newton, (617) 299-3392
Boating in Boston has a retail/rental shop at their Newton location as well as six other rental locations in and around Boston, including Hopkinton State Park, Spot Pond, UMASS Boston, Carson Beach, Wakefield, and Natick. They also offer SUP lessons.
Charles River Canoe and Kayak, 132 Charles Street, Newton (617) 965-5110
Charles River Canoe and Kayak’s retail store is located in Newton and offers a spot to buy paddleboards and gear, rent, or take a lesson. They also have three other rental spots along the Charles in Cambridge, Boston, and on the Newton/Needham line.
Eastern Mountain Sports, 1041 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (617) 254-4250
EMS has multiple locations across Massachusetts and offers a nice selection of SUP gear for sale. They also offer SUP lessons through their EMS School.
L.L. Bean, 6 Wayside Road, Burlington (888) 552-9866
With five locations across MA in Burlington, Dedham, Mansfield, Wareham, and Natick, L.L. Bean makes it easy for shoppers to find their perfect board. Looking to buy? Bean offers demo boards to try out as well as lessons through its Outdoor Discovery School.
REI, 401 Park Drive, Boston (617) 236-0746
REI is a top outdoor retailer offering everything you need to cover your next big adventure outside. In addition to Boston, they also have stores in Higham, Reading, and Framingham. REI carries paddleboards and gear and also offers SUP lessons through the REI Outdoor School.