When starting a new hobby, you want to begin with all the right tools and equipment for your level.
Usually, beginners like to stay away from “beginner-friendly” products because they think they’re not cool or might not match up with the stuff made for professionals.
Of course, it’s possible to get away with it on most hobbies, but paddling isn’t one of them, and I learned it the hard way.
When starting, my beginner sessions were distraught, marred with frequent falls, instability, and lack of balance. It was so upsetting that I had considered giving up on the hobby altogether.
But that was not until I learned that the choice of paddle board has a direct effect on the paddling performance and ease of learning, both of which are crucial for beginners.
Paddleboards for beginners, like their name suggests, are entry-level boards meant to hone your paddling skills when you’re new to the game.
To the untrained eye, they may not look any different than the professional boards. But if you’re keen, you’ll notice that most beginner boards have larger widths and lengths, which promote greater stability when you’re still wobbly.
They may not be fast, but they’ve every feature to help you get the basics of paddling right and in the quickest time possible.
Not sold yet?
In the review below, we shall present you with the five best options and expound further on how they’ll help you get in the paddling game.
Table of Contents
The Best Paddleboards for Beginners For The Money
#1 Atoll 11’ Inflatable - All-Around Option
For those beginners who need an all-around paddle board with solid overall performance while staying light, we happily recommend the Atoll11″ Inflatable.
The 2020 model, in particular, has a key few improvements over the past year’s model, and it offers better tracking stability and glide.
It’s a lightweight option too, and at 21 pounds, it’ll be easy to bring the board about with you. Yet, it’s a solid performer with a generous weight capacity, able to accommodate you and your partner or even pet.
Features and Benefits
Atoll wouldn’t be the perfect beginner paddle board if it didn’t come with a double-layered PVC construction, resembling what white-wash boards and kayaks are made of.
With a dual-layer PVC construction, Atoll doesn’t skimp even when paddled into some rocks, dragged or a rocky beach or even scraped by the hard surfaces by accident.
It doesn’t cut corners with the durability element and will last for long without flexing or bending.
Having used the Atoll for several seasons, I can confidently vouch for this board for stability.
With an 11 feet length and a 32-inch width, the deck is wide enough for stability, yet not wide enough to make the board bulky.
When it comes to single paddlers, the Atoll is steady to stand on, especially if you’ve some wobble to work on.
It makes learning the beginners easy, inspiring confidence, and after a few tries, you can even tag along with your pet.
The six-inch thickness also helps with the stability, adding more buoyancy to your ride. It doesn’t feel tippy, and with a weight capacity of 400 pounds, you can bring your better half or friends on your paddleboarding expeditions.
What is more? The thickness promotes rigidity, and when inflated, it feels as solid as a hard shell paddleboard.
Though the Atoll is slightly longer than the traditional pure all-around boards, it still maneuvers gracefully.
The triplefin system promotes commendable responsiveness, making it easier for your board to turn, especially when working your way through choppy waters.
Once you get the hang of it, you won’t have any trouble dodging objects, other paddlers, submerged trees and rocks.
The fins also make it easier to track, and with time, you’ll be able to move in a straight line and explore every hidden corner with the Atoll.
However, when it comes to speed, the Atoll won’t be winning any medals for you anytime soon. Nevertheless, the board strikes a perfect balance between performance and stability. It’s moderate on either, making the board reasonably fast without sacrificing stability.
Whether sitting, standing or kneeling, hardboards start to feel uncomfortable after some time.
To eliminate this, Atoll employs black and white soft and plush EVA foam, which feels great under your feet. Plus, it’s grooved to prevent slippage and to lose balance when the board is wet.
Like a true premium option, the Atoll comes with a host of add-ons, including D-rings for storage, a leash, and a carbon fiberboard.
#2 iRocker All Around 11 - Most Popular
Since iRocker All Around 11 came into the paddleboarding landscape, it has consistently remained as iRocker’s most popular SUPs.
And as its name suggests, this option is a great all-around option, offering fantastic stability for the beginners while allowing the seasoned paddlers to move with greater confidence.
But is it the right paddle for you?
Features and Benefits
I rarely let new people try out my things.
But with the iRocker Cruiser, I didn’t have any problem because it is such a solid and stable board that doesn’t wear out or tear easily.
With a triple composite construction with an internal drop-stitch for support, the iRocker Cruiser feels nearly as solid as a hardboard and is superior and durable against abrasion and cut resistance.
The board is also surprisingly lightweight for easy carrying, yet it’s super strong and will support up to two users with a combined weight of 350 pounds.
The iRocker All Around 11 is 11 feet and 32 inches wide, and like the Atoll, it offers a stable platform but not too bulky or hard to control.
It offers a generous platform, allowing you to shift your legs and move up and down the grooved traction pad without losing balance.
All Around isn’t wobbly either and is stable even on windy days, which makes it a fun board to learn beginner moves-or even the perfect board to expand your repertoire of tricks.
For beginners with pets, you can even bring your dog with you, and even with its inability to sit still, the board still maintains true balance.
At 11’ length, iRocker All-Around doesn’t make the ideal board for zipping around rocks while paddling down a category three river.
Nevertheless, it excels when turning and paddling around flat waters.
While it doesn’t perform like a true recreational board, it’s easy to maneuver the board, with the detachable fins helping riders to weave through and around the bushes and trees in the lake.
Tracking performance is also fantastic, with the detachable fins helping the board glide quite as well as the hardboards.
Though it tracks better in flat water, it’s still tough enough to do rapids in a pinch. It moves along fast and with more convenience.
With or without shoes, the All Around’s deck pad has unimaginable traction, keeping your feet glued to the board even when slippery.
Additionally, the blue versions, with simple racer graphics, are a sight for the sore eye and will have everyone give you a second look.
To add value to your purchase, All Around paddle board comes complete with a host of exciting add-ons, including a pump, leash, and a carry bag.
#3 Thurso Surf Waterwalker 11’ - Most Durable
Thurso Surf Waterwalker has it all, with a little extra something.
Though not quite as wide as the iRocker All Around, it’s still a dream for many beginners.
It’s a stable option, and the large, wide deck ensures that beginners won’t have to worry about a wobbly experience or even falling into the water.
The greatest draw, though, is the overall durability of the board. It’s impressively strong and will handle the roughest conditions with confidence.
Features and Benefits
Thurso has not cut any corners with the overall durability of the Waterwalker.
According to Thurso, the Waterwalker boasts of the strongest iSUP structure in the market.
While we’re yet to verify the claim, what we know is with a double layer PVC construction, you’ll not have to worry about the rough oceans waves or the frigid glacial water.
The durability is so reassuring that you can even pull the board on the rocky shores without worrying about its structural integrity.
When it comes to aesthetics, the board is quite pleasing, and it will easily stand out from other paddleboards.
Stability on the Thurso isn’t compromised either.
The deck, though not as large as our previously reviewed boards, is large and more than enough to accommodate two persons.
Paddlers with kids or even pets will have enough room to do so and barely notice a difference in the overall stability.
More importantly, the width is generous, and standing at 32 inches makes it easier for those wanting to learn how to paddleboard.
Beginners shouldn’t have to worry about their wobbliness when learning, and the board’s stability ensures you never have to fall into the water.
The new version of the Waterwalker has also incorporated carb rails, which further help with the rigidity and firmness of the board. It’s easier to stand on the Waterwalker, and while at it, you’re less likely to experience any flex or even bending of the board.
Weight and Weight Capacity
With a modest weight of 25 pounds, it’s easy to bring the Waterwalker with you.
Yet, the weight doesn’t affect the overall carrying capacity. The board can take a fair bit of weight and can hold anywhere from 280 to 350 pounds, sufficient to carry two average adults or pets.
For those tagging along with their pet, you’ll be happy to know that the deck pad is sturdy and won’t get compromised by the dog’s nails.
Additionally, it’s grippy, and it’s less likely you’ll slip even when the board is wet.
The Waterwalker, despite its size, is still maneuverable, and dodging the objects in the water, should be easy with a few side paddle strokes.
Its tracking ability is also excellent, and while your paddling technique affects the course of travel, the board will get you going in a straight line for the most part.
Something helping with the glide on the Waterwalker is the tri-fin setup, which offers more stability and better navigational performance.
#4 Tower Adventurer 2 - Most Rigid
Fourth on our list is Tower Adventurer 2, an update to the already popular Tower Adventure.
While there’s a lot to be admired on this SUP board, beginners will love the stability offered by the 32” board.
Features and Benefits
Need a board that can be used in white water rapids or even paddled onto rocky shores?
No problem with Tower Adventure.
This board is super sturdy, with the double-layered military-grade PVC and drop-stitch construction offering unmatched sturdiness.
You can forget about the dents and dings with inflatable boards.
Additionally, the board will stand up to your dog’s nails and is perfect for fishing because the hooks won’t do much damage.
The Tower Adventurer 2, with a length of 10’4,” has more volume than the Adventure 1 9’10,” so it’s a bit more stable, especially when you hit the choppy waters.
With a wider deck, it helps to curtail a beginner’s wobbliness, making it easier for beginners to learn balancing much faster.
The 6-inch thickness also helps with stability as it eliminates flexing or bending, which might cause instability, especially when paddling in water with waves.
Both the tracking and gliding performance of the Tower Adventure is fantastic.
While the board isn’t anywhere as fast as some recreational boards, the triple-fin system helps with better navigation.
The larger single below helps with directional navigability, so it’s easier to evade the obstacles on your way or even maintain a straight line avoiding collision with other paddlers.
On the other hand, the two later fins help with stability, preventing beginners from tipping and falling into the water.
On that note, it’s also good to point out that all the finds are detachable, so packing and portability shouldn’t be a bother.
With a non-slip soft top deck, both beginners and seasoned paddlers won’t have to worry about the likelihood of accidents or injuries should they fall.
The deck is super sturdy, and more importantly, groovy, offering a non-slip experience even when the board is wet.
Tower Adventure 2 comes complete with everything you need for a fulfilling paddling session, including paddle, SUP pump, and two straps.
#5 Bluefin Cruise SUP - Best for Young Paddlers
Bluefin Junior is tailored for the kids, but it packs all the essential features of a grown-up paddleboard.
In addition to the quality artistry, this board comes with an array of exciting features to make your kid’s beginner sessions more interesting.
Features and Benefits
Being a beginner option tailored for the kids, we thought Bluefin would cut some corners when it came to the choice of materials and durability.
That’s not the case.
Like some of our premium models, the Bluefin Junior is sturdy. With a 1000 Denier Exo Laminate PVC with drop-stitch technology, you can drag the board over the rocky shore without worrying about its integrity.
The board’s accidental scratching over hard surfaces or even sharp objects doesn’t do any disservice to the board.
Coming in at 10 feet in length and 33 inches wide, the Bluefin Junior is a wide board, and for newbies under 5’3”, it offers a stable enough platform that doesn’t wobble.
The board works like a champ, and when inflated, it would be hard to tell the difference with a hard body paddleboard.
The state-of-the-art construction makes this youth iSUP rigid enough to handle weights of up to 280 pounds.
Yet, it’s lightweight and won’t pose much of a hassle or even fatigue when packing it. Combine this with the fact that it can be deflated for packing, and you get an ultra-portable option.
Tracking and gliding capabilities aren’t the strongest points of the Bluefin Junior.
Nevertheless, for a board of its size, we were impressed by the overall navigational performance.
The board is responsive, and we love that it comes with a kick pad feature that allows the riders to make quick sharp turns to avoid collisions with other paddlers or even avoid obstacles on the water path.
Tracking is also decent, and while it will not take an entirely straight path, it will ensure that you’re not all over the place.
There’s a lot to like about Blue in’s design, but we were impressed by the four-point bungee storage area at the front for luggage.
The board has extra D-rings making it easier to attach a kayak seat and other gear.
It also comes with three grab handles to ease the overall portability.
Bluefin Cruise’s complete package comes with a host of accessories to make every second of your kayaking a delight.
Some of the add-ons include an adjustable paddle, leash, backpack, and conversion leash.
Best Paddleboard for Beginners Buying Guide
With so many options in the market, choosing the right beginner paddle board can feel intimidating.
This is not to mention that the board’s choice can either make or break your beginner sessions.
To help you identify the right board, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide outlining everything you should know about selecting the right beginner paddle board.
But first, let’s see what makes a good beginner board.
What Makes a Good Beginner Board?
Choosing the right beginner paddle comes down to the type of paddling you’ll do, paddling location, and level of skill.
If you’re a newbie, you’ll want an option that is easy to balance on, which translates to a wider board. Falling every few minutes isn’t good for confidence when learning.
It’s recommended that beginners start their flat water training, so you should pick a board with the right shape and hull dimension for these conditions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Beginner-Friendly Paddleboard
Beginner boards should have wider boards for greater stability and balance.
Ideally, opt for a board that is at least 30 inches wide, and if you’re clumsy as I am, the 32″ is a perfect option.
The wider boards will stay upright on flat water and in the wild waves.
While the narrow board is faster, your focus should be on balance over speed when starting. And once you master the basics, you can start thinking about performance.
While longer boards offer a large platform to place your legs, they’re harder to control.
Beginner boards should have a short to medium length of between 9 to 11 feet.
On the other hand, kids’ boards should even be shorter, measuring approximately 8 feet. The length, though, will depend on the height and strength of the kid.
The board’s volume considers the length, width, and thickness of the board and is normally recorded in liters.
Higher volume boards support more weight.
Speaking of weight, you must consider your weight and your equipment before purchasing a board.
Now, while exceeding the weight limit might not necessarily sink you, it becomes harder to paddle and less stable.
Plus, it increases the overall drag and will make you feel more water movements.
The hull simply refers to the shape of the board.
The two common types of paddle board hulls are planning and displacement.
Each of the boards has different characteristics and affects a beginner’s performance in different ways.
Planing hulls are flat and wide, which is great for stability.
The flat and rounded hull also makes the board a great all-around option, perfect for various water activities.
The displacement hulls are more angular and feature a narrow v-shaped bow to optimize speed.
They’re slimmer and longer than the planning hull, so they’re less stable and not an ideal option for beginners.
Paddleboards are made from different materials, and the core materials on the board affect the overall ease of use, stability, weight, and maneuverability.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the common materials used in beginner boards;
EPS foam is generally a combination of fiberglass and epoxy resin.
Both materials combine to offer durability, needed for long-distance paddling and racing.
The material tracks well and can be suitable for racing.
It’s, however, quite expensive.
These are heavier than EPS, making them more balanced.
They’re popular with beginners because of the greater stability.
Other features beginners may want to consider when choosing a board is the number of fins, color, and design.
The fins affect stability and navigational performance. Boards with three fins are better for beginners as they increase the overall stability and tracking, while the outer fins ease the steering if you decide to try surfing.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
If you’re still torn on which paddleboard to go with, I would recommend the Atoll 11’ Inflatable.
It’s our favorite option, and no wonder it sits right at the top.
There’re numerous things to like about this board, but it’s the ease of use and beginner-friendliness stand out.
With a generous length and deck width, Atoll 11’ Inflatable is among the stable options in the market. For beginners, it removes any instances of wobbliness, ensuring you don’t risk tipping or falling into the water.
The board is also an all-around option and can be used by seasoned paddlers as well. While it’s not super-fast, the tracking abilities and navigational performance of this board is impressive and will eve make the recreation paddleboards give a run for their money.
Finally, Atoll 11’ Inflatable comes at a reasonable price, and considering its features and performance, Atoll 11’ Inflatable is a real steal.