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Why Are Tides Important When Planning a Paddle Board Outing?

Why Are Tides Important When Planning a Paddle Board Outing?

Understanding the tide forecast can be crucial for some paddle board adventures, but not all. This article explores when it's important to know about tides and their potential impact on your SUP outing.

If you plan to paddle in an area unaffected by tides, you don't need to worry about them. Therefore, it's helpful to know whether the location you want to paddle experiences tides.

Tides originate in the ocean and correspond to a cycle of water level changes that affect coastlines and nearby bays, rivers, or other waterways influenced by the ocean. Some rivers experience tides in parts closer to an ocean or bay, while more inland sections may not be affected at all.

If you live far from the coast, tides won't be an issue wherever you paddle. You'll only need to consider tides if you plan to paddle while traveling closer to the ocean. Some important reasons you should be informed about tides are:

Tides May Affect Your Access To The Water

Certain areas where you might want to launch your SUP can become extremely muddy at low tide, making it difficult to reach the water's edge. Some inlets or wetlands may even drain completely at low tide, making it impossible to access the water until the tide rises again. You can also get stuck during an excursion if the tide gets too low for paddling.

More Obstacles Are Present At Low Tide

At low tide, some areas may become too shallow, causing your board to bottom out on rocks and branches that would otherwise be submerged well below the waterline.

Knowing the tide level can influence your choice of fins to use (if your board provides options), as short fins are more suitable than long ones in shallow water.

Tides Create Currents That Can Help or Hinder Your Progress

Waterways affected by tides experience a current that varies in direction and intensity depending on whether the tide is rising or falling.

Fighting against a strong tidal current can make it challenging to paddle in the desired direction. However, knowing the tide timings in advance can help you use them to your advantage. For example, you can paddle in one direction when the tide is creating a current in that direction, stop for lunch during neutral tide, and return to your starting point after the tide has reversed direction, making for an easy paddle both ways.

Tides Affect Wave Heights and Surfing Conditions

Ocean waves generally vary in shape and size depending on the tide, and this has a direct effect on SUP surfing. This is important for surfers deciding when to go out and for paddlers who need to get past the breaking waves to paddle on the ocean.  Some surf spots are known to be most surfable at certain tide levels and impossible to surf when the tides aren’t favorable.

How To Check Tides?

There are various web sites and apps that will inform you of the tides at various times of day at a given location.  Tide information is often included in forecasts for surfing, fishing, boating, or marine conditions.  You can always do an internet search for “local tide forecast” There are also specific apps that focus on tides and therefore provide more detailed information, including graphical charts that make it easy to visually how the tides will be changing throughout the day.

While tides may not be the first consideration for most paddlers, being aware of them can help you determine the best times and places to paddle and prevent you from getting stuck in shallow water at low tide. Being mindful of tides can greatly enhance your paddle boarding experience, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable outing on the water.


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