Have you been wanting to go for a SUP excursion but are not sure where to start? Maybe you’ve been doing a lot of casual cruising but are now ready to take it to the next level with a full-fledged adventure. If this sounds like you, we are here to help! Read on for our guide on planning the perfect SUP excursion.

What is a SUP Excursion?

When referring to a SUP excursion in this post, we mean an outing that will take one hour or more, has a specific route or destination, and will take a bit more planning than a laid-back session on the water. Note that in this post, we define a SUP excursion as being within a day. We’ll save the overnight and multi-day SUP adventures for future posts.

TL;DR? Jump to the SUP Excursion Checklist →

Man stand up paddleboarding in the ocean

Enjoying a day-long SUP excursion on the Thurso Surf Expedition touring board

How to Plan the Perfect SUP Excursion

Pick Your Location

First thing first, you’ll want to choose where you want to go. There are so many great places to paddle, such as lakes, rivers, beaches, canals, estuaries, cenotes, bays, parks, and more!. You can find inspiration online; check out the Instagram account of a SUPer in your region, ask for recommendations on a message board for local paddlers, or explore our crowdsourced SUP Explorer Map. You can even use online maps like Google Maps to scope out your area for potential waterways. 

Once you’ve selected your location, do an online search for any information about your destination. Public parks and beaches usually offer information for visitors on their websites. Typical things to check for are day-use fees, parking, regulations, and watercraft launch areas. Also look out for suggested paddle routes and destinations. 

Check the Winds and Weather

When choosing a date for your SUP excursion, pay careful attention to the predicted forecast. Wind and weather can make or break a SUP excursion. Use your go-to weather app or site (The Weather Network is a good one) for the long-range forecast and check it daily leading up to your excursion. Weather can change, so it’s important to keep up-to-date on the latest data. Be ready to move your date if needed. 

Winds are particularly important for paddlers, especially if the area you are paddling is exposed, like on the open seas or a very large lake. Pay particular attention to the wind speed and direction. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to start out paddling into the wind and return with the wind at your back. Look for days with low-to-no wind; anything over 10 kts will be choppy or even wavy.

Group of people stand up paddleboarding

Don’t leave home without them! SUP buddies are an excursion essential.

Enlist Your Paddle Pal

There’s safety and fun in numbers! Your SUP excursion should include a buddy or two, especially if the area you plan to paddle is remote. Call up your favourite SUP pals and make a plan to go together. Ideally, you should all be around the same skill level and self-sufficient. You don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s safety and enjoyment.

Choose Your Board

Picking the right board for your SUP excursion is key. For one hour plus adventures, you generally want a board that can cover a lot of ground, tracks well, and can carry some cargo. A touring board is a great option; they are typically 11’ and longer, have pointed noses for effortless glide, and offer plenty of deck space and bungees for your gear. Our Expedition Touring board checks all those boxes and is a great option, especially if you need lots of storage space. 

If you don’t have a touring board, no worries! An all-arounder will do the trick. Just know that you won’t be able to cover as much mileage or carry as much gear as you would on a faster, longer touring board. 

Man inflating a Thurso Surf stand up paddleboard with a manual pump while looking out to the water

Bring all the gear you need, including a pump to inflate your board

Lay Out Your Gear

A SUP excursion will require a bit more gear than you’d normally take on a casual outing. But trust us; the extra cargo is worth it for a fun, stress-free, and safe adventure. A bit of planning will ensure that you are prepared for anything. Lay it all out a few days before to make sure you have everything you need, with time to buy anything you’re missing. Check that it all fits in your dry bag and/or deck bag. 

Think of what you’ll need for your safety, hydration, hunger, sun protection, and comfort. Pay extra consideration to where you are going, how long you’ll be out, and what the weather will be like. To make it easy, we’ve put together a checklist for you! 

Your SUP Excursion Checklist


  • Weather Forecast

  • Wind Speed

  • Wind Direction

  • Contact Person/Virtual Buddy


  • Destination

  • Paddle Routes

  • Route Highlights

  • Launch Area

  • Parking

  • Fees

  • Regulations


  • Board
  • Paddle
  • Leash
  • Fins
  • Pump (for iSUPs)
  • PFD/lifejacket
  • Whistle/sound signaling device
  • Tow rope
  • Lights
  • Phone with extra charger
  • Water
  • Snacks/meals
  • Sunscreen/sun protection
  • Water shoes/booties
  • Wetsuit/drysuit (for cold water excursions)
  • First aid kit
  • Change of clothes
  • Dry bag/deck bag
Man stand up paddleboarding in the ocean

Wearing a PFD, leash, and rashguard are all part of safety

Safety Makes Sense

We’ll always emphasize safety as it is a must. As mentioned above, your gear should include items like a PFD/lifejacket, whistle, tow rope, and a first aid kit. Check the regulations in your area to see what is required for non-motorized watercraft, as it can vary by region. 

Another thing you’ll want to do is tell someone your plan for the day (also known as a float plan). Let them know where you are going and what time your plan to return. Doing this will ensure that someone knows where to find you, should something go wrong. Consider using a tracking app on your phone, like Paddle Loggers, which shares your location with your trusted friends and family. 

Before You Launch

Ah, the day has finally arrived! You have your plan, your gear, and your pal ready to go. Take five minutes before you get out to do a final check of the winds and radar on your phone. How does the wind look now and for the next few hours? What weather systems are coming your way? The radar is excellent for checking the movement of weather systems.

Is it looking good? Great! Grab a sip of water, put on your safety gear, and go enjoy your wonderful adventure!

Man carrying a Thurso Surf paddleboard to the shoreline

Ready to go on your first SUP excursion! 

You’re Now a SUP Excursion Expert!

With a bit of practice, it’ll get easier and easier to plan SUP excursions. You’ll get the knack of it and have an effortless system in place to get up and go explore any waterway. What are some of your go-to SUP outings? Submit your favourite routes to our SUP Explorer Map and get a free Waterproof Phone Case if we use your submission. Looking forward to seeing your SUP adventures!




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About the Author: Jordan-na

Jordan-na Belle-Isle is a Toronto-based SUP instructor, lake surfer, and writer. Born in Montreal, she has been sporty her whole life and discovered stand-up paddleboarding in 2013. Since then, she has been active in the SUP scene, paddling and surfing the Great Lakes year-round. Jordan-na is a patient and encouraging instructor. She obtained her first SUP instructor certification in 2017 and has been teaching ever since. She has worked with Surf the Greats and Toronto Island SUP, running everything from group classes, to one-on-one training, to winter SUP safety clinics, to team-building events for clients and partners such as Google, Brown Girl Outdoor World, L’Oreal, Swim Drink Fish, and Ryerson University. She currently holds an Advanced SUP Instructor certification with Paddle Canada and is Bronze Cross certified with the Ontario Lifesaving Society. A recognizable face in the Great Lakes SUP and surf scene, her image has been used in a national campaign for Tourism Canada and she has been interviewed by several media outlets such as SUP Connect, Breakfast Television, Daily Hive News, and the Toronto Star. She was also the subject of a short documentary film titled ‘In Winter.’ A skilled writer with a masters degree from the University of Toronto, her work has appeared in Explore Magazine and she is a regular contributor to the Thurso Surf blog and Surf the Greats Journal. She is a co-organizer for Lake Surfistas, a grassroots group that connects, empowers, and educates women who surf and SUP the Great Lakes year-round.


  1. Ivan March 17, 2022 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Can we get the checklist as a printable pdf? ty

    • Matt G. March 26, 2022 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Nice idea, Ivan! We’ll see if we can sort something like that out!

  2. Anya April 22, 2023 at 3:46 am - Reply

    What is an ideal SUP length for multi day trips? I’ve heard 14 feet is better than 12’6 and vice versa. I’m 5’2 and less than 130lbs. I’m looking into getting a touring board and trying to decide on length…. Thanks in advance!

    • Thurso Surf April 25, 2023 at 12:13 am - Reply

      Hello Anya,

      Thank you for your question about the ideal SUP length for multi-day trips.

      While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, longer and wider boards tend to offer more space for gear, which is crucial for multi-day trips. However, it’s also important to consider your physical abilities and the water conditions you’ll be encountering, as well as the duration of your trip.

      Given your height and weight, we would recommend the Expedition 138 (11 ft 6). This board offers ample space at the nose and tail for gear while still being manageable to carry around.

      If you have any further questions or need additional guidance, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Best regards,
      The Thurso Surf Team

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