One of the greatest things about stand up paddle boarding is that it’s extremely versatile and there are very few limits. You aren’t limited by time and seasons–any time can be paddling time!
Paddle boarding at night is starting to become a common practice. SUP tour companies are now having “glow in the dark” tours which are quite popular. Regular paddlers are also embracing night paddles and not letting their busy schedules keep them from the water.
But night stand up paddle boarding is a little more complicated than daytime paddling. You don’t have the comfort of daylight and there’s more to worry about.
This guide will help you paddle safely when the sun goes down, so that you can make the most of your night SUP expeditions.
How to Stand Up Paddle Board At Night
Stand up paddling at night is much like paddling during the day–except for the fact that you have limited visibility and you aren’t visible to other water users.
Pick a Good Location
The decision of where you’ll paddle is a crucial one.
I highly recommend picking a location that you’re familiar with. Your evening expedition is not the right time to start exploring new locations, especially when paddling alone.
A familiar location is safer for the simple reason that you know it well. You know the best spots for SUP and any tricky spots that you might want to avoid.
Ideally, it’s better to go nighttime paddling in a calm, sheltered bay or lake and not the ocean or a fast river. A lake is much more predictable and you’re less likely to encounter unpleasant surprises compared to ocean paddling.
Check the Water and Weather Conditions
Another key step that you can’t afford to skip is checking the water and weather conditions. This is a must-do even though you’ve been paddling in that location for years – don’t just wing it, and don;t leave anything to chance.
Knowing what to expect enables you to prepare properly. For instance, knowing the temperatures allows you to dress appropriately so you don’t get uncomfortably sweaty or risk cold shock if you fall into the water.
Besides, you wouldn’t want to be caught in a bad situation because you didn’t check the weather first. Avoid going paddling at night if the weather is not looking friendly.
Have a Plan Prepared
A paddling plan serves two important purposes. One, it guides you so you’re not just winging it as you go. You’ll have a clear idea of where to launch, the route to take, your exit point, and how long your evening paddle session is going to take.
The second purpose is that you can leave the plan with someone–a friend or family member. This way, someone will know where you are and what time to expect you back.
Get Paddling Buddies or Find a Tour
There’s safety in numbers.
Stand up paddle boarding is more peaceful alone but more fun and safer with company. Even when paddling during the day it’s always best to go with someone.
In case of an emergency, you won’t be alone. Sometimes you can find yourself in a bad situation, unable to help yourself. In that case, you’ll need someone to have your back.
Find paddling buddies to accompany you on your nighttime SUP adventure or look for a company that offers night tours.
Start Gathering What You’ll Need
Once you have a location, a plan, and a clue of what the weather will be like, it’s time to get everything you need together.
Remember paddle boards aren’t that big and storage is limited. Pack wisely, bringing only what is necessary. Don’t forget to get a dry bag to keep your belongings dry in case you end up in the water.
What You Need To Safely Paddle Board at Night
Here are some must-haves for your night paddle boarding tours.
SUP Safety Gear
While paddle boarding at night you have to follow the same safety regulations that you follow for day paddling.
This means that you should wear your personal flotation device and leash at all times. These are two safety accessories that you can’t afford to go paddling without as they could save your life.
Bring a whistle as well and wear bright reflective clothing to make you visible to others around you.
This is a great bit of equipment that’s specifically useful for nighttime paddling. A headlamp will light your way in the direction of your eyesight and you don’t have to hold it as you would a flashlight or phone. This leaves your hands free to paddle.
SUP Paddle Board Lights
The U.S. Coast guard classifies a SUP board as a vessel outside bathing, swimming, and surfing areas. So you’re required to have lighting devices when paddle boarding in the dark.
SUP lights not only illuminate your surroundings, but they also warn other water users so they can keep a safe distance.
Bugs can be a nuisance, especially at night.
Bring bug spray to keep them off and prevent bug bites. You wouldn’t want to spend what’s supposed to be a fun trip fighting bugs.
Snacks and Drinking Water
This goes without saying.
You need to stay hydrated, even at night. This is especially important because you’ll be doing a physically engaging activity. Besides, it’s always a good idea to have water and snacks in case you come into an unexpected situation.
A Buddy System
I’ve mentioned this above. Solo night paddles are nice but they are safer and more enjoyable with friends.
Why You Should Try Night Paddle Boarding
If you have never gone on a nighttime SUP adventure, here is why you should consider it.
You Won’t Be Limited by Time
Has your paddling gear been gathering dust because you just can’t find the time to hit the water? Life can be busy like that.
But the good news is that you don’t need the sun to go paddle boarding. If you can spare an hour or two after sunset there’s nothing to stop you from having fun on your SUP!
It’s More Peaceful Without Crowds
If your favorite paddling location gets crowded during the day, consider going at night. You’ll be able to enjoy a much-needed quiet and peaceful session.
You also won’t have to deal with crazy boat traffic which can be quite annoying.
Nature Is Magical at Night
While paddling at night you’ll have the pleasure of viewing breathtaking skylines and marine animals.
The LED lights you attach under your paddle board at night will attract fish to your SUP. It’s a magical show that you can’t get during the day.
It’s Calmer and More Relaxing
Nighttime paddle boarding is perfect for paddlers who don’t like strong winds or rough waters.
At night, the water is most likely to be glassy and the air calmer compared to daytime.
Note: you should still check the water and weather forecast to avoid running into an unpleasant surprise.
Frequently Asked Questions About Night Paddle Boarding
Is It Safe to Paddle Board at Night?
Yes, it is safe to paddle board at night and there aren’t any serious threats associated with it. However, the limited visibility means you have to be extra careful and take all the necessary safety precautions.
What Should I Wear to Paddle Board at Night?
Just like during the day, dress according to the air and water temperatures for nighttime SUP boarding. Your clothes should be bright and reflective to make you visible to boaters and other water users.
Night paddle boarding is a truly exceptional experience. You get to enjoy the beauty of nature without having to deal with crowds or boats zooming past you every few minutes. You also won’t have to worry about being limited by time ever again if you’re usually busy during the day.
To have a happy and safe evening expedition, pick a location in advance, check the weather forecast, create a plan, and find SUP buddies to accompany you.
Ensure that everyone in your paddling group wears their leash and PFD for their safety. Don’t forget to bring enough snacks and drinking water for your trip as well as an insect repellent.
Last but not least, get yourself SUP lights. You are legally required to have them when paddling in the dark.