Best Paddle Boards for Ocean Use

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The best paddle board for ocean use is the Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12. It’s a sturdy, durable board that’s accessible for beginners and advanced paddlers alike. You don’t have to buy accessories separately, so you can easily convert this into a kayak to give your sea legs a rest!

Over the past few years I have been doing more and more ocean paddling. Even got a few of my friends to join me. After testing some of their boards I have learned a few characteristics of what makes a good ocean paddle board and what doesn’t. 

Below we round up the best ocean paddle boards based on experienced paddle boarders opinion and my use of some of the boards in a variety of different ocean conditions. 

Let’s get into it!

Best Paddle Boards for Ocean Use

The following options are my top five picks of the best paddle boards for ocean use.

Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12 – (Top Pick)

My top overall pick is the Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12 because it features some clever innovations with ample onboard accessories available to the paddler. 

Specifications

  • Length: 12’
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6” 
  • Materials: Military-grade PVC with laminated finish
  • Weight: 38 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs

Why Is It a Good Ocean Pick?

The Bluefin Cruise Carbon is the best stand-up paddle board for ocean use because it’s durable and  relatively easy to handle in more challenging conditions. Beginners and experienced paddlers alike will appreciate this all-around paddle board for its stability—as you can see for yourself.

Though it doesn’t have the weight capacity of the Atoll 11, it’s still big enough for two paddlers (preferably sitting down) or your furry friend, along with some of your belongings.

On-Water Performance

The tracking is what makes this board great for beginners—there’s no learning curve because you can paddle on one side and continue in a straight line. Newbies can practice their paddling form and endurance without veering off-course.

The Bluefin board is ideal for ocean waves because the raised heel pad helps you do pivot turns. This move pushes the tail slightly into the water so that the front of the board lifts and you can avoid waves or quickly pivot out of the way.

Board Design

The design makes this the best inflatable SUP for ocean use because of its unique 2 bladder design. This coupled with the carbon side rails make it one of the most sturdy paddle board designs out there. 

There are bungees at the front and back for storage of all necessities like dry bags, extra clothing and coolers for snacks and drinks. There’s a GoPro mount built in so you can document that time you had a close encounter with a sea lion (yes this actually happened to me) .

Accessories

The triple-action pump included with the board is fantastic because it inflates on both the upward and downward strokes, getting you on the water faster with less effort. 

It comes with everything you need to convert the board into a kayak. It’s a great deal because many manufacturers sell this feature as extras.

It also includes the basics, like a leash, paddle, repair kit, backpack, and even a  waterproof phone case.

What Customers Think

The Bluefin board scores highly in every category: speed, tracking, and maneuverability. It’s ideal for beginners because they can easily adjust to the proper form. Even advanced paddlers will love what this board has to offer due to the quality production of this board. 

Pros

  • Dual inflation chambers keep you stable and in control
  • EVA foam deck pad is secure and comfortable
  • Triple action pump inflates the board quickly
  • All accessories included, so you don’t have to spend more

Cons

  • Heaviest option on the list, which negatively impacts portability
  • Takes experienced paddlers to get it up to a decent speed
  • The paddle isn’t as stiff as the Atoll 11’s

iRocker All Around 11 – (Customization Pick)

iRocker All Around 11 Presented
My friends 2020 model

For an inflatable paddle board, the iRocker All Around 11 gives you everything you need for ocean-worthy stability coupled with lots of deck space.

Specifications

  • Length: 11’
  • Width: 32” 
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Material: Triple-layer military-grade PVC with drop-stitch core
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 435 lbs

Why Is It a Good Ocean Pick?

The iRocker All Around 11 is so rigid that most people think it’s a hard shell paddle board. It uses three layers of military-grade PVC to ensure you won’t get any rips or leaks with regular use and, let’s be honest, a bit of abuse. 

When I say this is durable enough for the ocean, I mean it. My friend has paddled it over countless rocks, clam and oyster shells and it held its form great!

On-Water Performance

The paddle board has three fins—two small side fins and a larger removable center fin. This design helps with tracking and ensures you’ll glide smoothly through the water with little correction.

The length of this board means you have to put in more effort to maneuver. Check out my footage of the iRocker in action to get an idea of how it handles. You can see the delay in my sweep stroke, but it glides smoothly, so you have to pick your priorities.

The board stays upright and on track with moderate waves, so it’s stable enough to use in the ocean. Due to its sturdy design and complete stability, this is a great board for beginner paddlers to get acquainted with ocean use.

Board Design

The shape of this paddle board, along with the thick PVC surface, makes it great for seafaring stability, even when some chop comes your way!

The traction pad isn’t as long as other models, like the Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12. But it makes you feel stable and secure when you’re out on the water. The deck pad is even comfortable if you’re kneeling.

You can use two D-rings at the center of the board to attach a seat and paddle it like a kayak, which makes this paddle board versatile. Although you have to pay extra for the iRocker kayak conversion kit

Accessories

When you order the iRocker All Around 11, you get the board, a leash, a repair kit, and a travel roller bag. The three-piece travel paddle is portable and extended to either 72” or 86” long, depending on your needs. It has a carbon matte shaft and nylon blade for easy handling and great maneuverability.

A hand pump comes along with the basic purchase, but you can order an electric pump if you’d rather have one. I personally recommend it as it saves you and your back a lot of stress and strain! Note that the battery comes separately, so those costs add up.

What Customers Think

Customers love how it feels like a solid board but it inflates and deflates quickly.. Even in ocean waves, they found the sleek design helps it cut through choppy water and stay on course.

Talking to my friend who owns one, he personally loves it and tries to get out on the water with me every chance he gets. He was able to stand up on the first try on the board! Which is just a complement to the board stability. 

Pros

  • Triple-layer military-grade PVC make it rigid and durable
  • Roller bag is great for storage and portability
  • Plenty of color options so you can show off your personality
  • High weight capacity means you can bring extra gear or your kid

Cons

  • Maneuverability is a little difficult and delayed
  • Not built for speed
  • Comes with basic needs, but accessories can get expensive

Red Paddle Co Voyager 12’6” – (Premium Pick)

Intermediate paddlers shopping for ocean stand-up paddle boards to upgrade their equipment can’t go wrong with the Red Paddle Co Voyager, which also makes a variety of specialist boards for different purposes!

Specifications

  • Length: 12’6”
  • Width: 32” 
  • Thickness: 5.9” 
  • Material: MSL-fused double-layer PVC with drop-stitch core
  • Weight: 24.2 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 240 lbs 

Why Is It a Good Ocean Pick?

You can get an idea of how it performs on the water with a video review that shows you the upgrades Red Paddle Co made to their board with this release. It glides through the water despite only having twin fins. The speed you get on still waters is hardly compromised in ocean waves due to the innovative V-hull.

On-Water Performance

The Red Paddle board only has two fins on the underside, while others on this list have three. Surprisingly the 2 fin design makes the board track extraordinarily well. This is because there are two 9.5 inch racing fins installed in the FCS fin boxes compared to whats usually one 8” or 9” fin. 

Because of its design and stability, this board is better for intermediate paddlers who want to level up their equipment. The V-hull design makes it a bit tough to turn and maneuver, so beginners might struggle initially until getting the hang of the board. 

Board Design

This is a good touring board, but since it has the lowest weight capacity of all on the list. This could be due to the fact that Red Paddle tests its weight capacity differently to other SUP manufacturers. Still, if you are an intermediate paddler you should have no problem loading this board with weight for camping trips. 

The V-hull design is especially impressive because it breaks the water tension and makes paddling effortless. Using the board on ocean waters ramps up the effort slightly, but the hull makes enough difference where you’ll pick this board for speed. Especially compared to the iRocker 11 and Atoll 11, which don’t offer as much in terms of speed. Because of the more basic hull and shorter lengths. 

Accessories

The board comes with a leash, removable twin fins, Titan II pump, and a storage backpack. A foil lining in the bag keeps your board cool even if you’ve been hiking or camping in the sun. The repair kit is in a waterproof can and includes a patch and valve tool. The company even includes a waterproof phone pouch with a hook.

What Customers Think

Experienced paddlers love the speed of this paddle board, but admit it’s not great for beginners. The lack of stability makes it a little rough on choppy ocean waves, but its firm structure keeps advanced users comfortable.

Pros

  • Streamlined design cuts through the water with good speed
  • Fairly light for easy transportation
  • Unique structure keeps it rigid in rough waters
  • Included hand pump makes setup a breeze

Cons

  • Lowest weight capacity on the list
  • Bungee cords don’t seem as strong as those from other manufacturers
  • Not stable enough for beginners

Atoll 11 – (High Capacity Pick)

me paddling Atoll
Me paddling the Atoll in March in Salt Spring Island, Canada

For fans of the iRocker 11 who want a higher weight capacity, the Atoll 11 is the best SUP for ocean use.

Specifications

  • Length: 11’
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6” 
  • Material: Machine laminated dual-layer PVC with drop-stitch core
  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 to 700 lbs 

Why Is It a Good Ocean Pick?

This board is similar to the iRocker 11 in the best ways, with the added advantage of the higher weight capacity. In Fact they are often compared to one another on reddit threads. That means you can take more out on the water with you, whether it’s three people, your dogs, a cooler, or anything else you might need.

On-Water Performance

The stability and weight limit of this board make it ideal for beginners or even families who want to get their kids out on the water without giving them their own boards. Its pointed nose gives it decent tracking and helps it glide through rougher waters. Three fins also help it track sufficiently little correction needed.

The width of the board makes it stable to stand on, though that and the length make the maneuverability about as slow as the iRocker 11. The material makes it rigid enough that you won’t feel it wobble as much as other boards, especially in ocean waves.

Board Design

The PVC Atoll used for this paddle board is some of the strongest I’ve seen, so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear. Though it feels thick, the board itself is very lightweight, making the maximum capacity even more impressive.

The pointed nose leads to a rounded tail that improves tracking and gliding, but as mentioned, the maneuverability is lacking. Even though it’s not very quick or nimble, the Atoll 11 is easy to control, making it a good choice for beginners or people traveling with pets or other cargo. If you are into backcountry hiking this could be a solid pick for you! 

Accessories

Atoll Bag
New product Alert!

The board comes with a travel backpack for easy transport. The padded shoulder and waist straps mean you’ll feel comfortable hiking around with this paddle board. The pump and paddle also fit inside, so you won’t accidentally leave anything behind.

The included paddle isn’t flimsy aluminum like you might expect at this price point. The carbon fiber shaft supports a nylon blade so you feel in control when you’re on the water.

What Customers Think

Customers appreciate the durability of the board and paddle at such a decent price. Overall, everyone agrees that this choice is firmly in the middle of the road, in terms of performance and price.

Pros

  • Highest maximum weight for an inflatable paddle board
  • Low board weight, second only to the SereneLife board
  • High-quality carbon fiber paddle
  • Great board for the price; won’t break the budget

Cons

  • Doesn’t stand out in any performance area
  • Maneuverability and speed are a bit lacking
  • Uses dual layer PVC, which is durable but a downgrade from the iRocker 11

SereneLife Free Flow – (Budget Pick)

Serenelife Paddle Board

If you want an ocean paddle board without breaking the bank, the SereneLife board will fit your budget.

Specifications

  • Length: 10’6”
  • Width: 30” 
  • Thickness: 6” 
  • Materials: Reinforced engineered PVC with composite drop-stitch
  • Weight: 19.6 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 lbs

Why Is It a Good Ocean Pick?

Beginners who want to try paddleboarding in the ocean will love this affordable SereneLife paddle board. It’s lightweight but stable, the board’s profile may not be perfect for ocean conditions but it is a great pick for calm bays. 

The large, non-skid traction deck covers more of the board than the iRocker 11’s traction deck on certain models. It’s further proof that they’re catering to beginners, but more advanced paddleboarders will appreciate the comfort this pad provides.

On-Water Performance

The on-water performance is pretty decent, as you can see in my video review. It’s a very stable board with decent tracking, which is especially impressive considering the price. However, it moves more slowly than you’d expect. Since the paddle is flimsy, it can get tough to maneuver the way you’d want to.

With the price in mind, I’d still recommend the SereneLife Free Flow paddle board for beginners. It’s a great way to test the waters, no pun intended. It offers enough stability to make you feel comfortable, even if you’re new to paddleboarding.

My friend tried her board for the first time and was able to stand no problem. She even liked it better than my Nixy board!

Board Design

The board’s design is sleek, making it track well. It’s lightweight, so it’s a great board to carry around on hikes or camping trips. However, the design doesn’t handle a lot of weight—this board has one of the lowest weight limits on the list, just above the Red Paddle Co Voyager.

The non-skid traction deck is effective and comfortable, which is important when you’re spending hours out on the beach or bay. Due to the weight limit on this board, it’s only meant for one person, though there’s a little room in the bungee cords for some onboard necessities.

Accessories

A storage bag comes with the SereneLife board, but it’s very basic. To be honest with you I’m not a big fan of the bag. You can tell the company cheaped out on the bag based on its materials. I also found that you had to fold the paddle board back into the bag perfectly otherwise you will have a paddle shaft or tow sticking out of the bag. 

The board comes with a leash, paddle, hand pump, removable fin, and repair kit. These are the basics that come with most boards, but what you get from SereneLife is kind of cheap. To be fair, the price is cheap, so it’s not surprising. The accessories alone make it clear that this board is best for beginners who want to try out paddleboarding without breaking the bank.

What Customers Think

Customers have found that the SereneLife board is stable and durable, especially for the price. If you’re determined to go out on the ocean every day, you might want something a little sturdier, like the Atoll 11 or iRocker 11, but this is an affordable choice for beginners. More experienced paddleboarders might get frustrated at how slowly it moves and how hard it is to maneuver.

Pros

  • Most affordable option on the list
  • Lightest paddle board making for great portability
  • Very stable, even with ocean waves
  • Great for beginners due to stability and price

Cons

  • Narrower width than other options
  • The aluminum paddle is heavy and flimsy
  • Can’t carry much weight

Things to Look for in an Ocean Paddle Board

Below we go through things I look for when choosing an ocean paddle board. I have a good amount of experience paddling in ocean conditions living in Vancouver. So I’ll teach you a few of the things I’ve learned over the years. 

If you are wondering How to Paddle Board In The Ocean click here!

When I look for a board I make sure they have the below considerations available. 

Shape of the paddle board

The shape of the board plays a big part in how it handles in conditions that are anything but sterling. Ocean paddle boards can have many different uses. For the purposes of this article we will mostly be considering surfing and casual paddling.

For Surfing Use

A paddle board that you want to use for surfing will be drastically different from ones that you would use for casual paddling! Surfing paddle boards tend to have more rocker, are shorter and are ideally around 7-10’ long

We have a whole article that goes into what to look for in a surfing paddle board here. 

For Casual Paddling

For casual paddling you will be looking more at the longboard all around shaped paddle board. Ideally the board should have some sort of rocker to absorb waves while having a slightly pointed tip for a nose. 

All Around Ocean paddle boards should be about 10’-12’ in length and around 30-34” in width. If you are taller or bigger in stature then look at getting a longer and wider board for stability. 

As you get more comfortable paddling in the ocean you can progress to narrower touring or racing paddle boards that will allow you to travel at a greater speed in the water. 

Length of the Paddle Board

A good length I feel for paddle boards to have is to be between 10-12’ for All Around boards and 12-14” for inflatable touring SUPs. 

Starting out you should look at getting a steady all around board like the iRocker All Around 11 or BlueFin Cruiser Carbon and when comfortable, level up to something more advanced like the Red Paddle Co Voyager 12’6”. 

Of course you can always start off with a narrower board but the learning curve will be steeper!

Shorter folks that are 150 pounds and under should go for a board that is at about the 10 foot category while 150 pounds and up folks should be shooting for 10’6” and up. 

I’m about 180 pounds and 6’1” and I find that 11 foot boards suit me best for more wavey conditions. In calmer water conditions you can often find me paddling my shorter Nixy 10’6” paddle board. 

– Editors Note

Width of the Paddle Board

This will widely vary depending on what ocean paddling activity you will be doing.

  • For Racing Paddle Boards: 26 – 30” 
  • Touring Paddle Boards: 28”- 31”
  • For Beginner Paddle Boarders: 32”- 34”
  • Intermediate Casual Paddling: 30”- 32”
  • Paddle Board Fishing: 32”- 36” 

This of course is a rough estimate and guide, much like the length, if you are shorter you can get away with a narrower board while if you are bigger you should shoot for a longer width. 

For more information on paddle board sizes check out this guide. 

Paddle Board Thickness

For inflatable paddle boards, thicknesses range from 4 – 8”. Many guides you will read on the web will say that it’s 6” or bust. While 6” is the common size of most all around boards it’s not the end all be all size. 

More expensive specialized boards like Red Paddle or Hala feature boards that straddle below the 6” mark. For example, our choice for best surfing board, the Red Paddle Whip 8’10 is actually 3.83 inches thick! Does this mean that it automatically should be snuffed as a bad quality board? Not by a long shot!

As we will detail in the next section, paddle boards that are made with better quality materials can dip below the 6” mark. 

ISUP Construction

This is often an understated factor in ocean paddle boards but it is an important one to consider. Cheaper Amazon inflatable paddle boards are often made of single layer PVC which can make the board less performance enhanced compared to more expensive makes. 

Of course there are always exceptions to every rule, including my inclusion of the Serenelife Free Flow paddle board on this list. 

Ideal constructions that I look at are double or triple layered PVC or fusion layered SUP’s. Fusion layering is essentially 2 layers of PVC fusion laminated into each other using a machine. The below video explains this in more detail.

Other things that help with ocean environments include carbon rails that some manufacturers like Nixy and Blackfin use to increase the rigidity and structure of their boards. 

Fin Set-Ups

If there is one thing I like nerding out about in paddle boards it’s different fin setups! When I am looking for an ocean paddle board I usually like there to be 3 fins. Ideally, the side fins are not glued onto the board but rather are detachable and are in about the 4” range. 

Longer side fins help your paddle board track better, which means less effort correcting course when you get into some chop. 

Usually inflatable paddle boards come with a standard 8 or 9” center fin with the package. The thing that I look for is a board that supports FCS or US fins. 

This gives you a whole new world of fun customizability by being able to swap the board for different types of fins like river fins, racing fins or even surfing fins. 

While some manufacturers like iRocker have their own clip-on fins that work well, it really limits your fin choice to what accessories the manufacturer produces.

Onboard Elements

Finally we have the subject of onboard storage. One of the most criminally underrated advice for ocean paddle boards is to have bountiful onboard storage capability! Here’s a little story for you. 

My friend owns a Tower Yachtsman paddle board. While it’s fairly decent on the water, one of the biggest oversights this board has is a lack of deck bungee. It means my friend had to buy a dry bag with a leash on it for the board to be able to store anything on it whatsoever.

Before that he had to bring a square water jug to put onto the board just so that it doesn’t roll off the board when paddling!

– Editors Note

You can compare this to my friend’s iRocker All Around 11 board in the picture below. The iRocker All Around 11 has bungee Deck storage on the front and the back, as well as capabilities for drink holders, small coolers and even a kayak seat for when he gets tired. 

So my criteria for this one is that there should be AT LEAST one space on the board for bungee storage.

iRocker accessories
All Around Fully Loaded!

Another aspect to keep in mind is having a comfortable and spacious deck pad under your feet. Ocean paddle boarding will usually take longer than lakes because there are more exterior elements to paddle like tides, heavy wind and waves. For Lake Paddle Boards check this post out. 

As you are battling these elements it can start to take a toll on your feet. Hence look for a board that has a thick and soft deckpad. To figure this out you can read customer reviews on the product. There are usually a few who mention the comfort of the deckpad. 

So What Are The Best Paddle Boards For Ocean Use?

One of the most universally mentioned Ocean friendly SUP’s from beginner and intermediate boarders alike is the Bluefin Cruise Carbon. It’s double chamber frame allows the board to keep it’s rigidity. It is also one of the few SUPs that has a kayak conversion kit that comes with the SUP!

The best ocean faring SUP I tested was the iRocker All Around 11 due to its stable longboard shape and its capability to add loads of accessories to the board. If you were wanting to dip your feet into touring and advanced on water performance then I’d recommend the Red Paddle Co Voyager 12’6”.

If you are looking for a list of my favorite Inflatable Paddle boards check out my guide here! Got any recommendations for us? Tell us about it on our Facebook!

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Hey, My name is Derek and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports. My new-found passion is learning about and testing SUP's. I love teaching people what to look for.