10 Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

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Paddle Boarding is a hobby that has brought immense joy to me in the summertime. You can have the worst day at work and come to a still lake and all of that just melts away. 

The problem is that there are so many board choices out there that many new potential paddlers don’t know where to start! Oftentimes they get analysis paralysis and don’t even get to dip their toes into this amazing hobby which is the biggest shame! In this article, we take your hand and show you the best inflatable paddle boards for beginners.

I was in your position too believe it or not. But unfortunately, I made the mistake of getting a no-name-brand paddle board that was extremely unsteady. I felt like one of those log rollers tumbling down the river always on edge! 

I don’t want you to experience that feeling like I did so today I will be taking you through my personally tested picks of the 10 best paddle boards for beginners.

If you jump to each review we have a specific rating system that allows you to choose what’s most important to YOU!

Let’s get into it!

10 Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

Below is our hand-picked list of the best paddle boards for beginners. We have tested all of the below boards and have unique input to prescribe with each board. We also gather fellow paddlers’ perspectives on these boards to give you the most complete opinion possible for each pick.

(Editors Pick)
Atoll 11'

Atoll 11'

  • Dimensions: 11” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 550 Lbs
  • Materials Used: dual layer fusion PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a good blend of price and quality
(Premium Accessories Pick)
Nixy Newport G4

Nixy Newport G4

  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 300 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Laminated Drop Stitch
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a high quality well made SUP package
(Budget Pick)
Gili Air 11'6

Gili Air 11'6"

  • Dimensions: 11’6” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 295 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Single Layer PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers on a budget
(Compact Pick)
iRocker All Around 11 Ultra

iRocker All Around 11 Ultra

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21.4 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 290 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Dual Layer Fusion with Carbon side rails
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a compact SUP Package
(Yoga Pick)
Gili Komodo

Gili Komodo

  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 340 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual-layer fusion laminated PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a stable SUP for small-medium paddlers
(Kayak Hybrid Pick)
Bluefin Cruise 10'8

Bluefin Cruise 10'8"

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Monocoque Structural Laminate
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a well constructed SUP
(High Capacity Pick)
Gili Meno 11'6

Gili Meno 11'6" XL

  • Dimensions: 11’6” x 35” x 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Dual Layer Fusion PVC
  • Best For: Larger paddlers who want a supremely stable SUP
(Starter Pick)
BOTE Breeze Aero

BOTE Breeze Aero

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Inflatable AeroULTRA Technology
  • Best For: Paddlers who are buying a first board
(Popularity Pick)
Body Glove Performer 11

Body Glove Performer 11

  • Dimensions: 11” X 34” X 5.4”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 320 Lbs
  • Material: 3 Layer PVC Construction
  • Best For: Paddlers who are getting an introductory board

(Amazon Pick)
Serenelife Free Flow

Serenelife Free Flow

  • Dimensions: 10’5 X 30” x 6”
  • Weight: 19.6 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Materials: Military Grade Single Layer PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a cheap SUP

Most of the picks will be in the sweet spot of the $400 – $900 range with a few over for those looking for premium picks. It’s recommended you stay within this range as cheap Amazon no-name brands cheap out on materials and construction which dramatically shortens the life of your SUP. 

What would you prefer? Buying 2-3 SUPs within 5 years or have one quality one that will last you 5 years and over?  We do have a Guide for Cheap Inflatable Paddle Boards here.

1. Atoll 11 (Durability Pick)

Derek standing with Atoll board


  • Dimensions: 11’ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 315 Lbs (Tested to 550 Lbs)
  • Material: Machine Laminated Dual Layer PVC

Total Score 8.2/10 (Average of Below)

  • On-Water Performance: 8.5
    • Stability: 9
    • Tracking: 8
    • Speed: 8
    • Maneuverability: 8
  • SUP Construction: 9
  • Board Features: 8
    • Deck Pad: 8.5
    • D Rings: 9
    • Deck Bungees: 7.5
    • Handles: 7
  • Accessories: 7.5
    • Backpack: 7
    • Paddle: 7
    • Pump: 7
    • Fins: 8
  • Set-Up/ Take Down: 8

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

I chose the Atoll 11 as the best SUP for beginners as it is a board with the perfect blend of quality that meets affordable pricing and a high maximum capacity. 

I also have one which I tested in slightly higher stakes. I first paddled this board at the beginning of March in a small lake located on Salt Spring Island. So yes the water was a bit cold. 

I tested the Atoll out and my first impression of the board was that it had fantastic primary stability. For the extra $100 – $200 this is well worth it compared to spending money on an Amazon board that does not put half the quality materials that Atoll puts into their boards.

I tested the Atoll out and it had fantastic primary stability. But it’s not just me that says this. Out of a few Reddit threads several paddlers preferred the Atoll over other popular SUPs.  Including ones that are $200-$400 more expensive than the Atoll 11 SUP. 

As shakasupgirl on Reddit put it:

My husband and I have Atoll boards. We love them and our friends do too. Their customer service is fantastic. I’m born and raised in Hawaii and grew up paddle boarding so I’m picky about my boards. Get the Atoll.

On-Water Performance

In my first test of the Atoll 11, we tested it in a small lake and did your standard paddle boarding motions. We kneeled, stood up on the board, did sweep strokes, small side paddle maneuvers, and hauled butt on it. We even scared some swans in the process (oops)!

In my findings, We found that the Atoll 11 scored above average in almost all on-water performance metrics except for maneuverability which scored within the average of other all-around paddle boards.

The board’s tracking performance was 7 strokes per side before correcting course compared to our average for all-around boards we’ve tested which was 5.8. In maneuverability, the board did about 4.5 reverse sweep strokes to do a 360, which was only slightly more compared to the average all-around board score of 4.2. 

Overall the Atoll was a fantastic board to paddle. Its stability got top marks with nothing going below an 8/10 in terms of tracking, maneuverability and speed

Board Features and Design

So why does the Atoll have a lower overall board score compared to other paddle boards in our rating systems? The main thing that did not help the rating of this board is that it lacked the quality of accessories and on-board features of some of the other boards on the list. But if onboard features and standardized accessories are not a big issue for you ignore it.

The Atoll 11 features a touring/ all-around hybrid design that allows water to flow freely to the sides giving it less drag on the water’s surface. If you are planning to load this SUP up with gear I have good news for you. The Atoll 11 features a 550 pound tested maximum capacity with their board. 

So if a multi-day trip is eventually in the cards this SUP is more than up to the task. It also comes in a comfortable bag that comes with a compact single chamber pump that has a total weight of 38 pounds with board and paddle included. So if you plan to do some backcountry paddling this would also be a solid pick for that. 

Click here to see our Full Review on the Atoll 11 Paddle Board.


  • The Board is one of the most stable 32” sideboards we have tested
  • Lots of additional D rings to strap gear on board for longer trips
  • The bag is comfortable and light enough to wear for carrying longer distances
  • High maximum capacity for many shapes of folk
  • Great backcountry/ hiking pick


  • No rear deck bungee storage
  • Side fins are glued on and shorter which leaves tracking performance on the table

2. Nixy Newport G4 (Premium Accessories Pick)

Nixy Newport G4 Pic


  • Dimensions: 10’6 X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 Lbs
  • Material: Advanced FusionTech dual-layer laminated woven drop stitch

Total Score: 8.8 /10 (Average of Below Numbers)

  • On-Water Performance: 8.5
    • Stability: 8
    • Tracking: 8.5
    • Speed: 8
    • Maneuverability: 9
  • SUP Construction: 9
  • Board Features: 8.5
    • Deck Pad: 8.5
    • D Ring Placements: 8
    • Deck Bungee Placement: 8
    • Action Mounts 9
    • Handles: 8.5
  • Accessories: 9
    • Backpack: 9
    • Paddle: 9
    • Pump: 9
    • Fins:9.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down: 9

Why is it a Good Beginner Pick?

The Nixy Newport is one of my favorite boards and it is my main go-to board for all sorts of different paddling adventures. I’ve clocked over 40 hours on this specific model

The Newport is a great beginner pick because of what you get with the package. Both the construction of the board and the quality accessories you get are one of the best on the list. And this is all within less than $1000. 

As a Nixy customer, I personally love the board. As I’ve accumulated more SUP knowledge both through product testing and writing for this blog I’ve really come to appreciate the quality that Nixy put in their boards. Many features like the action mounts and carbon side rails are found on more expensive boards. But somehow Nixy managed to do this while adding quality accessories at a more than affordable price tag. 

Many customers who buy the Nixy Newport loved the quality of the board. One that struck me as interesting was:

As a 61 yr young woman for 1st time ever using SUP, and having some issues with balance, find the NIXY Maui board very stable & firm, standing right up from its inaugural launch. Manageable both on the water and to carry about for my slight stature/low muscle mass (5’3+”/80 lbs). Cuts thru lake waves nicely… like the feeling!

Betty A (Nixy Customer)

In fact, I’m seeing this board go on sale a lot of times this year

On-Water Performance

The Nixy Newport G4 has good stability but it’s a bit of a different feel from other paddle boards. The board has more “play” on it meaning there’s more room for allowance when leaning from one side to the other. 

This “play” may take a few paddle sessions to get used to but once you do get the feel of the board you tend to like it as it gives you a bit more of a complete feel of the board. Instead of standing on a board that feels like a platform and getting knocked off by an unexpected wave like I felt with the iRocker All Around 11 Ultra. 

While the Nixy did not get as high of a rating on the stability side of things it did rate well in terms of other on-water metrics. The tracking and maneuverability scores especially stood out to me due to the board’s fins setup. More on this below. 

Board Features and Design

The board weighs 21 pounds and features an FCS “screw in” fin set-up for all 3 fins. The center fin is 9” long while the side fins are 5” which makes the board track extraordinarily well in the water for a “cruising board”. 

On Top of this the board also features 5 action mounts where you can mount Go Pros, cup holders, camera holders as well as rod holders to transform this SUP to be your own. 

What really impressed me the most though was the quality of accessories that come with this SUP. In my opinion, it has one of the best carry bags in the SUP industry. It’s baggy so it gives you a lot of room to put your SUP as well as paddle holders on the side of the bag which gives you more room in the bag.  The 3 wheels give the bag more support on the ground which reduces potential sagging that may occur in the middle of the SUP bag.

Click here to see our Full Review on the Nixy Newport G4 Paddle Board.


  • The board is well positioned to be great for about 80% of the paddlers out there
  • The board has amazing quality put into it for the price tag
  • The Accessories that come with the board are phenomenal
  • After over 40 hours paddled I personally love the board
  • Nixy has fantastic customer service


  • Can get a bit unsteady in choppier waters
  • The price tag could be said to be a bit too high for a few beginners budgets

3. Gili Air 11’6” (Budget Pick)


  • Dimensions: 11’6” X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 295 Lbs
  • Material: Single Layer PVC

Total Score: 7.5 (Average of Below Numbers)

  • On-Water Performance – 7.6
    • Stability 7.5
    • Tracking  7.5
    • Speed 8
    • Maneuverability 7.5
  • SUP Construction – 7
  • Board Features  – 7.7
    • Deck Pad 8
    • D Rings 8
    • Deck Bungees 8
    • Action Mounts: 7.5
    • Handles 7
  • Accessories – 7
    • Backpack 7.5
    • Paddle 6.5
    • Pump 6.5
    • Fins 7.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

Why is it a Good Beginner SUP Pick?

The Gili Air 11’6” is a good value budget board for those paddlers who don’t want to spend too much on a paddle board. This is also an ideal option for larger/ taller paddlers on a budget who want a board that will be stable enough to hold them. 

However, one knock on the board is the construction of materials. The board is very lightweight for a board of its size (same weight as the Newport but 1 foot longer). This is because the board is made of a single-layer PVC design. Which is not our favorite construction by any means. But if you just want a board to fool around with 5-6 times during the summer it’s a good pick. 

On-Water Performance

The Gili Air 11’6” offered scores that were just a bit below the average of our all-around SUP scores and a lot of it had to do with the board feeling more flimsy in the water. Especially when tested back-to-back against other models like the Adventure 12 which was faster, tracked better, and just felt more sturdy overall. We especially found this during the bounce test where we bounced up and down on the board to judge the level of wobble we get from the SUP. 

Having said the above we did find the board stable enough for most beginners to stand on thanks to the board’s wider shape and design. 

The reality is though that as a beginner, many of you won’t be too bothered with all of this as price tends to be the more important factor in SUP-related decisions. Hence why we included this pick higher up in our rankings.  On the bright side we did find the board’s tracking above average compared to other all-around boards at 7 strokes per side vs 5.8 average of all-around SUPs. 

Board Features and Design

One of the areas where the Gili Air excelled compared to a lot of SUPs in the same price point was the onboard features and the accessories that came with the paddle board. Most boards in this price range may have a few rows of deck webbing and maybe a few D rings. 

The Gili Air offers onboard features that come with higher quality SUPs such as 5 rows of bungee deck webbing and 18 D rings. It also comes with 3 action mounts and a well-thought-out deck pad with 2 textures of deck padding (striped and diamond-grooved). Which is more included onboard features than our top pick the Atoll 11 paddle board. 

The accessories like the backpack were nothing to snuff at. The bag offers plenty of padding and support on the shoulder straps and an ample amount of back padding so nothing is stabbing your back while carrying the package. You also get chest and waist straps which allow you to carry the package There are also an ample amount of pockets in the front and sides of the board for miscellaneous odds and ends including a clearly labeled fin pocket which I appreciated. 

Click here to see our Full Review on the Gili Air 11’6″ Paddle Board.


  • The Air 11’6” is very lightweight for a board of its size at 21 lbs
  • Comes with a good quality bag
  • Board has a lot of good onboard features which gives it more value
  • The paddle holder is a well-thought-out onboard addition
  • Will be stable for most sized paddlers


  • Not entirely impressed with the aluminum paddle
  • The board is made of single layer PVC construction (from what we know)
  • Board may be a bit bulky to maneuver for smaller framed paddlers

4. iRocker All Around 11 Ultra (Portability Pick)


  • Dimensions: 11’ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 21.4 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 290 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Fusion Layer PVC

Total Score: 8.7/10 (Averages of Rating Below)

  • On-Water Performance – 8.1
    • Stability 8
    • Tracking  8
    • Speed 8.5
    • Maneuverability 8
  • SUP Construction – 9
  • Board Features  – 8.6
    • Deck Pad 9
    • D Rings 8.5
    • Deck Bungees 8.5
    • Action Mounts: 7.5
    • Handles 9
  • Accessories – 8.6
    • Backpack 9.5
    • Paddle 7.5
    • Pump 9
    • Fins 8.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 9

Why is it a Good Beginner SUP Pick?

If you don’t have enough space in your apartment, or house and don’t have a lot of room in your trunk for a standard-sized SUP bag then the iRocker All Around 11 Ultra may be your best bet to save space

The All Around 11 Ultra is a board that folds in half lengthwise before adding the typical SUP folds. As a result, it takes up less vertical space. This allowed iRocker to make a unique compact bag measuring 10″ x 16″ x 21″ (25cm x 41cm x 53.3cm)

I found this especially handy when I was traveling to my friend’s cabin with a van full of food, beverages, personal belongings, and sleeping bags. They made it very clear they didn’t have a lot of room for a paddleboard! So I brought this baby along and it nestled into the van full of cabin stuff perfectly!

The Ultra 11 is a model made for taller/ larger paddlers although it is light enough for most smaller paddlers to manage. For those who want a smaller compact board check out the iRocker All Around 10 or the “in between” Cruiser package. 

On-Water Performance

The iRocker All Around 11 Ultra will not be the most stable board on this list and I have found that it is a bit more sensitive compared to the other boards on this list in the top 3. Having said that after a few paddling sessions, you will be able to consistently stand once you get used to this board’s feel. 

One of the areas where the All Around 11 Ultra stood out was its maneuverability and responsiveness to correcting paddle strokes. 

This was helped with the board’s 2-center fin design which I found made the board more responsive. When testing the Ultra 11 we found it did a full 360 on a reverse sweet stroke in 3.5 strokes compared to the average all-around boards we tested that clocked in at the average of 4.2 strokes for a full 360. 

This also takes away from the board’s tracking which is slightly below average at 5 strokes a side before correction compared to the average paddle strokes of 5.8 measured from all the all-around boards we’ve tested. 

Board Features and Design

There’s a lot to talk about here so mainly we will outline what stands out about this SUP which is its portability. We have it ranked #2 in our best portable paddle boards list!

One of the things I appreciate is iRocker’s organization when it comes to keeping all of the included items in compartments. The package comes with a pouch that holds the electric pump, hose center fins as well as instruction manuals, stickers, and crocodile clips for the electric pump. This pouch goes on top of the folded board that goes into the bag.

Speaking of the bag itself, I found that it is one of the easiest bags to get the folded board into as it has 2 front zippers in the front. This makes it so much easier to place the board in as opposed to wrestling it in like Steve Irwin wrestles Crocs in heaven (RIP!). The bag also has loops to which you can slot the pieces of your detached 5-piece paddle into the sides of the bag. 

One of the things that I will warn you about is the folding process. Folding the board will be tricky the first few times figuring out the right folds to do and having the center fold hold together. Something that I recommend you do is use the included electric pump and deflate the board completely so that the board is more compact and easier to fold down and therefore fit into the bag

Click here to see our Full Review on the iRocker All Around 11 Ultra Paddle Board.


  • The board offers great maneuverability for an 11’ board
  • Will be easy to manage for most paddlers due to its lightweight and compact packaging
  • The board still offers many features found on the original All Around 11 board. 
  • I love how the bag is designed and how everything is compartmentalized


  • Not the most stable board on this list so beginners may need a bit more time to get used to standing on this SUP
  • I was not a fan of the 5 piece paddle due to the play on it when paddling
  • Tracking is a bit compromised with this package

5. Gili Komodo (Small Passenger Pick)


  • Dimensions: 10’6” X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 340 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Tech

Total Score: 8.1 (Average of Below Numbers)

  • On-Water Performance – 8.5
    • Stability 8.5
    • Tracking 8.5
    • Speed 7.5
    • Maneuverability 8.5
  • SUP Construction – 8
  • Board Features – 8
    • Deck Pad 9
    • D Rings 8
    • Deck Bungees 8
    • Action Mounts: 7.5
    • Handles 7.5
  • Accessories – 8
    • Backpack 8
    • Paddle 7.5
    • Pump 7
    • Fins 8.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

Why Is It a Good Beginner Pick?

If you are looking to take up paddle boarding and you want to eventually bring a pooch with you on your journeys then this is the paddleboard to get

The Gili Komodo’s deck pad covers the entire surface of the SUP with 3 different deck pad textures. This means that fido (or anyone or anything) has more grip to stay on the board while you are paddling. Its 33-inch width also gives you the confidence of stability while out in the water.

I have also tested this board with a small child on board and the board performed reasonably well. For those looking to paddle with larger passengers take a look at the Gili Komodo 11’ SUP. A review on this will be posted shortly!

On-Water Performance

One of the biggest compliments of the Gili Komodo by customers is its stability. It’s a pretty good Yoga pick for those who want to add the dimensions of their yoga practice to the water. I also found the Komodo to be adequately stable for a person of my build (6’1 and 185 lbs). However, I feel like its ideal customer base would be people in the 5’10 range and shorter.

Besides having above-average stability The Komodo also did pretty well in other on-water performance metrics. With an average on-water score of 8.5/10 with the average of all-around boards we’ve tested being 8/10.  

Perhaps the tracking was the biggest surprise. I was expecting the board to perform below average on this metric but its strokes per side were just above average at 6 strokes a side before correction! This score was one that we found many 11’ boards fell under. A lot of it was down to the Komodo’s prominent 3-fin detachable system which kept the board dialed in while paddling.

Board Features and Design

The Gili Komodo’s biggest strength is what’s on its deck pad. The full-length deck pad allows both you and fellow passengers to get to grips with the board, even in wavey conditions.

The board also has a total of 17 D rings of which 10 are used by deck bungees (6 at the front and 4 in the rear of the board). Outside of the towing and leash bungees the remaining D rings can be used to hold the shoulder strap or a kayak conversion kit. 

Click here to see our Full Review on the Gili Komodo 10’6″ Paddle Board.


  • Great stability 
  • Full-Length Deck pad which means more grip everywhere
  • Great paddleboard for most sizes of dog
  • Great passenger board for kids
  • Lots of compliments on Gili’s customer service


  • There is nothing too impressive about the pump that comes with the board

6. Bluefin Cruise 10’8 (Kayak hybrid Pick)


  • Dimensions: 10’8″ X 32” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Material: Exo Surface Laminate (Fusion laminate) 

Total Score 8.3 (Averages of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 8.1
    • Stability: 8
    • Tracking: 8.5
    • Speed: 8
    • Maneuverability: 8 
  • SUP Construction – 9
  • Board Features  – 8
    • Deck Pad: 9
    • D Rings: 7.5
    • Deck Bungees: 7
    • Action Mounts: 8
    • Handles: 8.5
  • Accessories – 8.1
    • Backpack: 8
    • Paddle: 8
    • Pump: 7.5
    • Fins: 9
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Bluefin Cruise is a great pick for those who live outside of North America and want a board that ships worldwide without the duty fees associated with it. However, as of recently, the Cruise has been offered in the United States and now Canada with distribution centers just being added.The Cruise is a solid entry board along with its cousin the Cruise Carbon which is a more rigid board due to its double bladder system. . 

The Cruise is a very well-built board that is boosted by its 5-year warranty that protects the board against manufacturer defects. Of course, what boosts this package’s value is the fact that you get a kayak conversion kit INCLUDED with the SUP package in the Royal Blue color. 

On-Water Performance

The Cruise offers solid On-Water Performance ratings where it is solid in all categories but does not entirely stand out in any particular one. The stability of the board is ample although it did get a little hairy testing this board in some of the waves paddling to White Rock Pier. However, in calm lake waters, the board felt more than stable for first-timers to stand on.

We had an opportunity to test this board with two different fin setups. One center fin and the center fin with the two 5” detachable side fins. The board was a lot more maneuverable and a tad bit faster without the side fins but its tracking lacked compared to having all 3 fins attached.

Board Features and Design

One of the onboard features that stuck out to me the most about the Bluefin Cruise was the fact that its deck pad was ultra grippy on the toes. Its thermostatic crocodile deck pad is one of the grippiest deck pads I’ve tried which is especially useful when you are a beginner and you are not entirely sure-footed to begin with. 

Where this board lost some of its marks was with the accessories that were included with the board. While they look fairly impressive I did have a problem with the screw coming loose on both paddle adjustments on both the Cruise and Cruise carbon boards! 

I’m also not the biggest fan of the bag as it feels way too bulky. I understand what Bluefin is trying to do but the board tends to like to fall away from your back, making it feel even more awkward to carry. 

For those who want an upgrade from this board, you can purchase the Cruise Carbon which offers 2 bladders that give you extra stability. The Cruise Carbon also has carbon side rails to increase rigidity and another row of bungee deck webbing towards the back of the board.

Click here to see our Full Review on the Bluefin Cruise 10’8″ Paddle Board.


  • Royal Blue models come with a kayak conversion kit
  • Board tracks fairly well for a 10’8” board
  • Has a 5-year manufacturing warranty which is one of the longest
  • The deckpad is very grippy on your feet


  • I had some issues with the adjusting screw coming off both Bluefin paddle boards I tested
  • While the quality of accessories is good the design needs a bit of a re-think
  • The bag is too baggy that you have to use the inside strap to hold the board to your back otherwise it falls to the outside

7. Gili Meno 11’6” (Capacity Pick)


  • Dimensions: 11’6” X 35” X 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 485 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Fusion Tech

Total Score: 8.3 (Average of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 8.1
    • Stability 9.5
    • Tracking 8
    • Speed 8
    • Maneuverability 7
  • SUP Construction – 9
  • Board Features  – 8.3
    • Deck Pad 8
    • D Rings 8
    • Deck Bungees 8.5
    • Action Mounts 8.5
    • Handles 8.5
  • Accessories – 8.5
    • Backpack 8.5
    • Paddle 8.5
    • Pump 8
    • Fins 9
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

Why Is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Gili Meno 11’6″ is one of the widest boards on the list listed at 35” wide. Which means that its a very stable board to paddle.  Infact in my tests it is one of the most stable boards I’ve ever tested. Which opens up the board to activities such as SUP Fishing and even SUP Yoga. More on this coming up. 

The Gili Meno 11’6” if often lovingly referred to as the “Big Boy Board!” In fact, we rated it as one of the Best Paddle Boards for Big Guys and Gals. as its dimensions are great for taller/ bigger paddlers who feel unstable on standard sized 10’6” all around SUPs. For those smaller paddlers, there is also the Gili Meno 10’6” which offers a smaller package for medium to smaller while still maintaining that stable platform to fish off of.

On-Water Performance

We talked a lot about stability above so what about other on-water performance metrics?  Logic would dictate that a 35” wide paddle board would feel sluggish to paddle in the water right? The Meno 11’6” was actually surprisingly quick and pretty well for a board of its dimensions. Look we’ll get this out of the way now, it’s not the quickest board on the list but I’ve found that it’s able to keep pace with boards that are an inch or 2 thinner in width.

One of the things I like about this package is the fact that the Gili Meno 11’6” comes with 5 fins total! It has 3 clip-on center fins (touring, race and river fins) and 2 side fins that help the board track. This gives you a lot of opportunity to change the board’s set-up to make it track better or be more maneuverable. For best tracking put in the touring fin and 2 side fins in place. For better maneuverability attach the shorter river fin and side fins to help the board be more responsive.

Board Features and Design

This board is built to be as steady a surface as possible thanks to its wide base and its thicker profile. This also means that this is a solid board to use for extra passengers. Its 485 lb max capacity allows you to have more than one person on there without affecting the performance too much.

The board also comes with grab handles and the front and rear bungee deck areas. The deck rigging also gives you a good amount of space to put backpacks, travel bags, and maybe even some camping gear for overnight paddles as your skill level grows.  

Click here to see our Full Review on the Gili Meno 11’6″ Paddle Board.


  • The board is one of the most stable we’ve tested
  • Great board to use as a tandem or 2-person SUP
  • The board offers a good amount of bungee deck storage on-board
  • 3 center fins included in the package
  • Accessory package is well thought out


  • Maybe more money than beginners would want to fork out
  • This package is pretty large and is better suited to larger paddlers

8. Bote Breeze Aero 10’8” (Starter Pick)


  • Dimensions: 10’8” X 33” X 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 Lbs
  • Material: AeroULTRA Technology

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

This board offers a lightweight package similar to the Nixy Newport but at a more affordable price point. While the accessories won’t be as top-notch the Breeze Aero does come with everything you need to get started. It also offers you a choice between 3 beautiful-looking designs with the one pictured being called the “Classic Cypress”. We personally really like the Native Spectrum board.

The Bote Breeze offers an affordable price point to get into paddle boarding while having a solid manufacturer back the quality of the board. BOTE comes with a Limited 2-year warranty on their boards.

It’s also a solid lightweight package who’s size will be able to accommodate 80 – 85% of paddlers out there thanks to its 33” width.

On-Water Performance

Where the BOTE Breeze Aero stands out most is its maneuverability thanks to the board’s side bite fins. The stability is also slightly greater thanks to its wider tail compared to the similar dimensions of the Nixy Newport. This board is not made of solid materials though so you will feel more bounce on the board and therefore feel more movement from the waves.

The maneuverability of the Breeze Aero is also a plus as I’ve found with a few other of the BOTE boards. However, the tracking will not be at the same level as the top picks. A lot of it has to do with the fin set-up where BOTE insists on keeping the side bite fins which stay attached and in my experience do little to keep the board tracking. The center fin does offer more surface area compared to most of the dolphin fins on the list so that is a plus in terms of tracking ability.

Board Features and Design

The Breeze Aero comes in 2 different sizes. The 10’8 and the 11’6” boards with standard features and the 10’8 and 11’6” packages. The packages offer a belt PFD, leash, and shoulder strap along with the bag and paddle while the basic package just includes the paddle and bag. 

In my experience with the BOTE HD Aero, I found the bag and paddle to be okay but nothing to really write home about. The bag is made of vinyl which is different compared to a lot of the other SUP backs made of nylon. However I find this vinyl material sticks to areas where the bag may be crammed in such as trunks or smaller storage spaces

In terms of the board there are some helpful add-on features such as D rings for a BOTE-made Kula cooler, free D rings for a kayak conversion seat or clip on shoulder strap. As well as the patented BOTE Magnepod which houses coresponding Magnepod drink cups.


  • Solid Entry Board
  • Lots of beginners liked the stability the board provided
  • Board is a bit more maneuverable than some of the others on this list
  • Great travel pick
  • Very Lightweight board at 20 lbs


  • Some complaints about manufacturing
  • Paddle could be better quality
  • Fins are pretty basic

9. Body Glove Performer 11 (Popular Pick)


  • Dimensions: 11” X 34” X 5.4”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 320 Lbs
  • Material: 3 Layer PVC Construction

Total Score: 7.5/10 (Average of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 7.75
    • Stability 8
    • Tracking 7
    • Speed 7.5
    • Maneuverability 8.5
  • SUP Construction – 7
  • Board Features  – 7.7
    • Deck Pad 8
    • D Rings 6.5
    • Deck Bungees 8
    • Action Mounts: 7
    • Handle 9
  • Accessories – 7.5
    • Backpack 7
    • Paddle 7.5
    • Pump 8
    • Fins 7.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 7.5

Why is it a Good Beginner SUP Pick?

You see these boards practically everywhere at almost any lake, river, or ocean. And while I’m not one to always choose the popular pick, I do often see people out on boards that are years older than the current generation. 

I also was fairly impressed by some of Body Glove’s on-water performance metrics. We tested the feel of the board directly against the Nixy Monterey and Gili Meno 11’6” and while it was not the fastest or most stable of the two it did a good job keeping up. More in this below. 

On-Water Performance

One of the things that surprised me was the stability of the Performer 11. Especially when you look at the board’s more pointed nose shape. For the materials used, Body Glove did a pretty good job at making the board stable thanks to its wider tail and 34” width in the middle. One thing I did notice though was that you could feel the waves more with this board which puts more strain on your feet when you are paddling longer distances. 

Body Glove has changed its design philosophy from having 3 permanent fins to having 1 slide-in fin. Which I found did sacrifice the board’s tracking ability. However, the maneuverability of the Performer was 4 paddle strokes for a reverse 360 vs our average at 4.2 which gave it a good score, especially for an 11’ board. 

I also found the speed was decent although, the amount of times you had to correct course by switching sides did affect the overall paddling flow of this board. 

Board Features And Design

The Body Glove Performer comes in a fairly standard SUP package although something I appreciated about the 2023 and onward boards is that they come with an electric pump. This is a game changer, especially given the cheaper price you can get from Costco! 

The Performer 11 does feature some good on-board features that are rather useful and innovative. First, they have a center handle that doubles as a bottle/ can holder. This is very useful as deck bungees usually don’t do a particularly good job at holding these items. Another innovative item is the nose guard located on the Body Glove that protects the nose when you breach shore. 

Click here to see our Full Review on the Body Glove Performer 11 Paddle Board.


  • Good starter board which has good stability
  • I often see multiple generations of this board on lakes
  • The 2023 version comes with a pump
  • Has a good amount of deck bungees


  • The board’s tracking is not particularly great
  • You can feel waves more on this board which can tire your feet out after longer distances
  • Accessories besides electric pump are fairly basic

10. Serenelife Free Flow (Amazon Pick)


  • Dimensions: 10’5” X 30” X 6”
  • Weight: 19 Lbs 
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer PVC

Total Score: 6.5/10 (Average of Below)

  • On-Water Performance: 7
    • Stability: 8
    • Tracking: 7
    • Speed: 6
    • Maneuverability: 8
  • SUP Construction: 6
  • Board Features: 6
    • Deck Pad: 6
    • D Ring Placements: 6.5
    • Deck Bungees: 7
    • Handle: 5
  • Accessories: 6
    • Backpack: 5
    • Paddle: 6
    • Pump: 6
    • Fins: 6
  • Set-Up/ Take Down: 7

Why is It a Good Beginner Pick?

The Serenlife Free Flow is one of the best-selling paddle boards on Amazon as well as the market in general. I got a chance to test my friend’s board and I found that it provided surprising stability for a board of its budget range.

Serenelife is one of the more trusted of the Amazon brand boards as it has been on there for a very long time. The board itself has accumulated more than 15,000 ratings over its lifetime with its average rating clocking in at 4.7/ 5 stars.

Many of the compliments of the board (including mine) are on the fact that this board is very stable to paddle. For beginners, this is about as easy a board to learn on and it comes at a smaller price point!

On-Water Performance

The biggest plus on the on-water performance side of things was its stability. Before I even tried it I kind of wrote it off in my mind because it was an Amazon board. But to my surprise it did better in the stability tests than the Tower Yachtsman. I would even dare to say it felt almost as stable as my Nixy Newport as well!

Outside of stability the board in terms of speed and tracking it lacked behind a bit. I found that the round nose of the Free Flow aquaplaned a bunch of water while paddling which reduced my speed a bit compared to my more pointed-nosed boards. 

Board Features and Design

The Serenelife Free Flow is a pretty standard board in that it’s pretty bare-bones after the board. When you drop down a few hundred dollars I find the quality of the accessories drops. 

I really didn’t like the bag that the Free Flow came in. I found that it was too difficult to fit the folded SUP, paddle, and pump back into and when you carried the board on your back it really was not very comfortable to wear whatsoever. The paddle is also heavy as it’s made of aluminum. This is fine on shorter paddles but the extra weight becomes apparent when you are paddling 2000 strokes in over an hour. 

Click here to see our Full Review on the Serenelife Free Flow Paddle Board.


  • Very stable in the water
  • Maneuvers pretty well
  • One of the best value-board ratios
  • Has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon
  • Comes in a bunch of different designs


  • The accessories that come with the board are cheap
  • The paddle is heavy and not very well made
  • Board may not last as long as others on this list
  • Some complaints on the valve malfunctioning

How We Tested The Best Paddle Boards For Beginners

All of these boards have been tested through a few different environments over the last few years. Giving you accurate readings as well as some good side-by-side comparisons. For example, we directly compared the Gili Meno 11’6” to the Body Glove Performer 11 to each other on my road trip to the interior of British Columbia in Okanagan Lake and Kootenay Lake outside Kaslo.

Our main criteria go as follows:

  • On-Water Performance – __/ 10 (Average of Below Scores)
    • Stability __/ 10
    • Tracking __/ 10
    • Speed __/ 10
    • Maneuverability __/ 10
  • SUP Construction – __/ 10
  • Board Features – __/ 10 (Average of Below Scores)
    • Deck Pad __/ 10
    • D Rings __/ 10
    • Deck Bungees __/ 10
    • Handles __/ 10
  • Accessories – __/ 10 (Average of Below Scores)
    • Backpack __/ 10
    • Paddle __/ 10
    • Pump __/ 10
    • Fins __/ 10
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – __/ 10

Our criteria are not weighted so some criteria I recommend you look at as a beginner are Stability, Construction, and Accessories.

  • Stability Rating: relates to how easily you can stand and stay on the SUP in a variety of different conditions.
  • Construction: is important in that it shows how well the paddle board is made and what materials are put into it. Believe it or not, no 2 paddle boards are the same and the board’s construction has a direct impact on how long it will last when properly taken care of.
  • Accessories: Things like a backpack, pump, and paddles can make or break your experience. Things such as walking longer distances to the shoreline, how fast and easily your board gets pumped out, and how tired you get after paddling for more than an hour all have a direct correlation with accessories.

How to Choose a Great Starter SUP

There are a few concepts you should recognize and look for when choosing the best beginner paddle board for yourself.  We go through the most important ones below. 

To see our list of the Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Click here.

To see our detailed guide on How to Choose a Paddle Board Click here.

Quality Construction and Materials

irocker deck bungee

An inflatable paddle board is an inflatable paddle board, right?

Well not quite. When looking for an inflatable SUP the biggest thing to look for is what kind of construction they put into their SUPs. SUPs come in a few different kinds of construction starting from the cheapest to the more expensive materials.

  • Single Layer PVC (material you will find on many $200 – $400 boards) 
  • Double Layer PVC (More layers but also more glue)
  • Triple Layer PVC (Used by iRocker but adds more weight)
  • Fusion Laminate PVC (Fuses both layers of PVC into one, often used by machine)
  • Custom Layer Construction (Done by paddle boards designed and made inhouse and not overseas. Ex: Red Paddle’s MSL Fusion)

When it comes to price tag an inflatable SUP manufacturer doesn’t just charge more because of their name, the extra cost is labor and the materials put into each board.

For more information on this, we have a What are Paddle Boards Made of? article that explains in more detail.

When I polled some inflatable paddleboard owners this was the most important factor to consider.

Your Size and Weight

Your body size and weight will determine what paddle board is best for you. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller and lighter you are, the shorter your paddle board can be both length and width wise.

A 10’5 board like the Serenelife Freeflow would be good for smaller paddlers because of its 10’ length and 30” width and its 275 lb maximum capacity.

While bigger paddlers would be more comfortable with the larger Gili Meno 11’6” which has a 35” width and a larger stable base for a larger person with a 485 lb maximum capacity. 

For more information on paddle board sizes check out our What Size Inflatable Paddle Board Should I Get? Guide.

Stability Considerations

How do you know how stable a board will be?

One of the first things that you need to look at is the board’s dimensions. As a rule of thumb, the longer and wider the board is the more stable it will be for you. This is because you have a wider platform to stand on. 

Another way to tell how stable a board is is by looking at verified customer reviews from places like Reddit, Amazon, and the manufacturer’s website. 

On-Water Performance Considerations

Much like stability, On-water performance depends on the size and more specifically the shape/ profile of the board. 

Derek Maneuvering Atoll

The narrower your board the faster and better tracking you will have in the water. Things such as longer fin set-ups can also help influence the board’s tracking capabilities.

As you get into wider shaped boards you start getting better maneuverability which is good for tighter waterways like rivers,and mangroves. 

A lot of the boards on this list have good tracking ability but you won’t be winning any races with them as they are more meant for All-Around performance

Budget Considerations

This one will be down to you and what you have available to spend. 

But what I will say about this is that if you are looking for a paddle board that will last you more than a couple of years you should consider going into the $700 and up range. Most of the boards above are in about this range.

There are exceptions like the Serenelife Free Flow board which goes for around 500 and under depending on what discounts are available on Amazon. 

Company Considerations

When choosing an inflatable SUP look at the SUP Company and Brand Reviews. We compiled a few of our favorites here. 

Warranty and Returns

This is often an overlooked criterion but it’s important to know how well you are protected against manufacturer defects. 

A standard policy I look for is at least a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Make sure you look at the exact terms of each policy (usually found at the bottom of the page)  as sometimes SUP companies will charge a restocking fee or the items needs to be returned in like-new condition. 

Customer Service

You can tell a lot by the quality of the SUP manufacturer by how it serves its customers. An easy way to look at it is to look at the reviews on the manufacturer’s page. But this is not always the most reliable metric

Some SUP brands often have the ability to choose what they put in as a review and very often they will post only positive customer reviews

Good unbiased places to look for customer reviews are:

  • Amazon Reviews (They will post everything)
  • The Brands Facebook Page (Every Review on here has to be displayed) 
  • Trust Pilot (Sometimes you can find the more popular SUP manufacturer on here) 

Also, try reaching out to the company yourself and see how quickly they respond to your requests. This is usually a good indicator of how responsive they are. 


Below are some common FAQs we get from customers looking for a first-time SUP. 

Whats The Best Paddle Board For Beginners?

The best beginner paddle board in our testing and experience is the Atoll 11 due to the board’s stability, portability, and high maximum capacity. It’s a great board that can grow with you as you increase your paddling skills with lots of room to strap cargo on as you become a more confident paddler.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Better For Beginners?

Inflatable Paddle board are better if you have less space available to store the board. Their popularity is also skyrocketing which means more innovation is being put into them year after year allowing their performance to inch closer and closer to hardboards. 

What Do I Need To Paddle Board?

As a beginner you will need the following items to paddle board.
A whistle
Lots of Water
A dry bag with valuables like snacks, wallet, cellphones, and maybe a change of clothes

When starting out only go in calm conditions with little interference from outdoor elements like wind, waves and currents. This will allow you to get used to standing, paddling, and kneeling on the board without being influenced by the above outside elements. 

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Photo of author
Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.