Introduction: Standup Paddle Boarding - Ocean Wildlife Things Needed to Get Started

Picture of Standup Paddle Boarding - Ocean Wildlife Things Needed to Get Started

Hi Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir.

Paddle Boarding in Destin Florida and spending time on the beach are among my family’s favorite activities. My passion for video and paddle boarding combined into great family memories and phenomenal wildlife video footage over the past 5 years. While paddle boarding in Destin Florida with my family, we recorded our encounters sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and gigantic jellyfish.

Keep reading this instructible to learn how to get into the sport of paddle boarding (SUP – Stand Up Paddle boarding), increase chance to encounter wildlife, best paddle boards, and much more.

Paddle Board Gear I Use &/Or Recommend

Step 1: Getting Started

Before investing time and money into paddle boarding, I recommend renting a paddle board for a day or multiple days to make certain you like the sport.

Lets face it, paddle boarding simply looks cool. A person standing up on a paddle board in the ocean or lake appeals to most people. Some people invest a lot of money in a paddle board before they step foot on one. In short, don’t be one of these people. Hobbies are expensive and paddle boarding is no exception to this rule.

Like most water sports, paddle boarding is a fun sport and a great full body workout. Your entire body is involved in each proper paddle stroke – legs, core, arms, shoulders, back, etc.. Paddle boarding is harder than it looks – just be mindful of this fact.

Most paddle board retailers allow potential customers to try paddle boarding for free. They have demo days where they bring out a variety of boards for people to try out on the water. A few SUP dealers also have ponds or lakes at their store to help people decide whether to buy or not to buy a board. Trust me, paddle board resellers and manufacturers want you to enjoy the sport and become a life long customer. They don’t want to sell you a board you will never use.

I encourage you to buy a used board before buying new. As your paddle board skill increases, you will gravitate to a certain style of paddling which may call for a specific type of board.

Step 2: Paddle Board Gear

Essential Gear

The essential gear for paddle boarding are a paddle board, paddle, safety gear (life jacket & ankle strap), and a way to transport your board.

Choosing a Paddle Board

Before deciding on a board, you must consider what activities you plan to do while paddle boarding. Race paddling? Leisure paddling? Fishing? Ocean paddle surfing? Flat lake paddling? Will you be traveling with your board on a plane? You must also consider your strength and body weight. For example, it is difficult for a person 250 pounds or above to stay balanced on a race board. A board that is at least 34″ wide and 12′ long will be a good choice for people who weigh 250 pounds or more.

Most paddle board retailers have knowledgable staff at their stores to help guide you to the correct board. So, don’t worry if you don’t know have all the answers or if you are unsure of what board you want/need.

Paddle Board Manufacturers Near Me

There are 2 paddle board manufacturers who have their headquarters very close to Destin. Bote Boards have a store in Destin and they manufacture their boards in Fort Walton Beach. Yolo Board have a store in Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach (30A). I believe Yolo is headquartered in Santa Rosa Beach. Both companies produce great boards and each have their own style. There are many other paddle board manufacturers throughout the country, but these 2 are the ones I am most familiar with and buy from.


Some people say Bote is a ‘Destin/Fishing Company’ and Yolo is a ’30A Surf/Bike Company’. People who like 30A go with Yolo and people who like to stick around Destin go with Bote. This is just perception and isn’t true in my opinion, but it is true for others. I have a strong preference between the two companies due to my paddle board purchasing history.

Choosing a Paddle

Paddles are like baseball gloves – they don’t change that often. You can buy a paddle from Bote or Yolo and they are very good paddles. My preference is to buy a paddle from a company that specializes in paddles.

I like quick blade paddles because you can customize them online once you know what type of paddle you want. Additionally, I am 6’7″ tall and need a paddle that is taller than the ones that are sold by Yolo and Bote. The paddles sold by Yolo and Bote are not long enough for me even if they put a handle on the paddle without trimming it down.

I recommend purchasing an adjustable carbon fiber paddle as your first paddle. This paddle will be light enough for you to use on the water without arm fatigue due to the weight of the paddle. The paddle can also be adjusted to a height that is comfortable for you.

There is a standard measurement for stand up paddle board paddle length. The measurement is determined by measuring the distance from the floor to your wrist below your palm while your arm is comfortably raised up. Using this measurement, paddles are cut to length and a handle is glued in place. The length cannot be changed after the handle is glued on according to your measurement.

Once you find your sweet spot in length by using your adjustable paddle for a while, your next paddle can be a fixed paddle. Or, just stay with the adjustable paddle.

Step 3: My Paddle Board History

Picture of My Paddle Board History

When I first got into paddle boarding, I bought a 12′ Yolo fishing board. I chose Yolo simply because when I thought of paddle boarding, I thought of Yolo. This was a case of great branding and marketing by Yolo. I chose the fishing board because I am 6’7″ and 225 pounds, so I needed something stable. I also wanted a board that would be large enough to paddle my children. Within a matter of 10 months, I wanted a faster board because this one was wide and heavy.

Bote was fairly new at the time, but not as popular as Yolo – at least in my mind they were not. Before I bought another board for myself, I bought my wife an 11′ Yolo recreation board for her birthday. She still has this board and it fits her needs perfectly. Yolo doesn’t sell this 11′ foot rec board any longer, which makes me happy I bought it.

Next, I sold my Yolo fishing board and bought a 14′ racing board. It is noteworthy to mention paddle boards (Bote & Yolo) hold their value really well if you take good care of them. This board was considered a racing board because of the displacement hull (V-hull) in the front and it’s 14′ length; however, it was a bit wider than a traditional racing paddle board. It was 31″ wide, so it was sort of a hybrid racing/recreation board.

I used this board for 2 years and really enjoyed it; however, my interest in paddle boarding evolved.

Before I sold this board, Santa Claus bought my son a 12′ Yolo recreational board. Yolo doesn’t make this board any longer, so I’m happy Santa decided to bring this one to us. It is a low profile rec board, which makes it faster than a normal recreational Yolo board. I was told these boards are not allowed to be used in races that only allow recreation boards because they are faster.

I sold my Yolo 14′ racing board for close to what I payed for it (b/c I take care of my boards) and decided to purchase a Bote Rackham Bugslinger Edition. I wanted to buy a Bote when I bought my racing board; however, I decided against it at the last minute because I thought I would get into racing. I never got into racing.

The Bote Rackham was my best paddle board purchase decision thus far. Bote Boards are a beautiful work of art and, more importantly, precisely engineered to serve a purpose depending on which model chosen. I chose the Bote Rackham because of it’s versatility. It can handle rough seas, stable enough to fish from, and fast enough to get places quickly. Corey Cooper and his wife Magda have created a paddle board company that is revolutionizing the sport by creating new products year after year.

Which board company is my favorite? It is Bote by a long shot. Their boards are just better crafted and engineered than Yolo – period. While Yolo is a great board company, they simply don’t compare to Bote in my mind. Some people argue that Bote boards are only for fishing – this is simply an uneducated statement. Bote has a variety of boards & products for whatever you decide to experience on the water – racing, fishing, hunting, surfing, and more.

Step 4: Transporting a Paddle Board

Picture of Transporting a Paddle Board

It is vitally important to safely transport your board on your vehicle. I encourage you to not go cheap when it comes to board transport. A paddle board is expensive and you don’t want to see your investment sliding on the concrete.

There are a ton of options for transporting your board on your vehicle. I have a truck (Toyota Tundra) with a truck cap over my truck bed, so I’ll explain my setup below.

I have the Yakima SUPDAWG to hold my boards. These can be mounted on round bars or oval-shaped bars. These carriers are awesome because they secure your board and the locks prevent theft.


The base of my setup consists of the Yakima Skyline Towers, Yakima Crossbars, Yakima Tracks, and Yakima Landing Pad.

Most SUVs and trucks come from the factory with tracks. More than likely, you will only need to purchase the Yakima towers, Yakima Crossbar & Yakima SUPDAWG.

Step 5: Encounter Wildlife - Best Time & Place

Picture of Encounter Wildlife - Best Time & Place

Paddle boarding in Destin Florida is simply beautiful. The water color & clarity is second to none and there is plenty of wildlife to see if you know when and where to paddle.

Best Time & Place

I like paddle boarding on the beach because of the water clarity, clear water, sand, and it is the best place to encounter wildlife.


Paddling on the beach can be difficult due to winds and rough seas if you go during the wrong time. During the spring and summer months, the ocean is relatively calm during the early morning hours and rough in the afternoon/evening hours. I recommend to paddle board in Destin Florida on the beach in the early morning hours (dawn until 9am). This is also the best time to encounter wildlife because they normally feed in the early morning hours. Paddle boarding in the evening hours is difficult because the ocean is normally choppy due to the south wind during this time of year.

I enjoy paddle boarding in the morning and leaving my paddle board on the beach during the day. The kids like to surf on my wife’s paddle board and use mine as a platform to jump into the ocean.

During the fall and winter months, you can paddle board on the beach at anytime during the day because the wind is normally out of the north. The north wind flattens the ocean like a lake which makes it fun to paddle board. Be aware, it gets cold in the open ocean during this time of year so dress accordingly. Also, a strong north wind can carry weak paddlers out into the ocean further than you want to go.

I forecast the surf and height of waves at www.swellinfo.com. I have used many, but this site is the best IMHO.

Step 6: Paddle Boarding - Sharks

Picture of Paddle Boarding - Sharks

There are more sharks than people realize at the beach in Destin, Florida. They normally hang out at the second sand bar and beyond, but I see them in shallow waters as well. While this may scare the Jaws movie fans, it is actually refreshing for many reasons. Sharks are a vital part of the Ocean’s ecosystem. Secondly, there would be a shark attack every hour of every day if humans were on the shark’s menu.

I caught a school of sharks on camera while paddle boarding with a friend early in the morning. My GoPro was attached to my head and I fell overboard on the school of sharks while trying to film them. I turned my body and simply lost my balance on my board. I don’t remember ever jumping back on my board so quickly out of the water. It’s difficult to see the sharks by the pictures below, but you can see their dark shadows. I think they were black tips, but not entirely sure.

Step 7: Paddle Boarding - Dolphins

Picture of Paddle Boarding - Dolphins

One of my favorite animals to encounter in the ocean are dolphins. They allow you to get fairly close to them and they are simply beautiful and they swim with such grace and ease. Shane and I encountered them early one morning and I had my GoPro mounted to the front of my board, which allowed me to get really good footage. We chased them around for about an hour – check out more footage by watching my video at the top of this page or by clicking here.

Step 8: Paddle Boarding - Sea Turtles

Picture of Paddle Boarding - Sea Turtles

I have encountered a lot of sea turtles while paddle boarding in Destin Florida. They are more difficult to get close to than dolphins, but they are just as beautiful and graceful. Sea Turtles are fast swimmers and they come to the surface often for air.

Step 9: Paddle Boarding - JellyFish

Picture of Paddle Boarding - JellyFish

One of my least favorite animals to encounter in the ocean are jellyfish. While they are magnificent creatures and vital to the ecosystem of the ocean, I know them as creatures that ruin perfect beach days. Jellyfish tend to invade beaches in Destin, Florida in July/August or when the water gets really warm. We encounter them often while paddle boarding in Destin Florida.

Step 10: Paddle Boarding - Fish

Picture of Paddle Boarding - Fish

There is no shortage of fish in the ocean to see while paddle boarding in Destin Florida. I see large redfish cruising the surf feeding on crabs and smaller fish.

Step 11: Closing and Final Thoughts

Picture of Closing and Final Thoughts

Paddle boarding is a great family activity that I encourage you to try. It is a great way to keep your body in shape, encounter wildlife, & create family memories that will last a lifetime.

I hope this information inspires you to get out on the water and have fun!

I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal.

Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and visiting my website for more projects and other fun stuff.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!

Until next time – Imagine…Create…Share

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Bio: Hi Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir. I love creating cool things. I love making old things look cool, I love making new things look old ... More »
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