Stand up paddle boarding is one of Australia’s fastest growing watersports, and for good reason! With thousands of bodies of water to explore in this beautiful country, mixed with the fact that stand up paddle boarding is not only tons of fun but a great way to keep fit and strong, it’s no wonder this sport is booming in popularity all around the nation!
All you need to give stand up paddle boarding a go is a reasonable level of fitness and confidence swimming. Other than that, be prepared for lots of laughs as you learn to grasp this super fun and entertaining activity! If you don’t own your own SUP board and paddle, never fear – the relevant gear is available to hire (and sometimes purchase) in bucketloads of spectacular places from one side of Australia to the other. For the ultimate experience, opt for a glass-bottom SUP, like those available on stunning Fitzroy Island near Cairns.
One of the finest ways to explore the magical Great Barrier Reef (Queensland) is via stand up paddle board; with so much to admire right below your feet, from exquisite coral and tropical fish, to larger animals such as marine turtles and majestic rays. Stand up paddle boarding also gives you the opportunity to explore numerous spots dotted around tropical islands located on the Reef that cannot be accessed via boat or foot.
Let us tell you now about three of the most epic places to explore the Great Barrier Reef via stand up paddle board.
Magnetic Island (image credit: queensland.com)
Magnetic Island, near Townsville
Magnetic Island, located near the Tropical North Queensland city of Townsville, is a beautiful island famous for its gorgeous beaches and native wildlife. The island is accessed by taking a 25-minute ferry ride from Townsville and is situated in the Great Barrier Reef marine park.
Magnetic Island has numerous different accommodation options (did you know approximately 2,500 people live on the island?), meaning you can stay as long as you please and explore its 40km coastline at your leisure.
During your visit, you may enjoy exploring some of Magnetic Island’s most popular beaches via stand up paddle board, such as Horseshoe Bay and Nelly Bay. At such locations, you may be fortunate to see fish, marine turtles and other large sea animals gliding beneath you, in addition to a variety of different sea birds who call the area home.
Fitzroy Island, near Cairns
Fitzroy Island, located just off the coast of Cairns (accessible by means of a 45-minute Fast Cat ride from the Cairns Marina), is one of the most magnificent islands dotted along the Great Barrier Reef. Covered 97% by National Park, with its very own resort and home to Australia’s number one beach (as voted in Australia’s Top 101 Beaches Awards in 2018), Fitzroy Island is a must-see destination for visitors to Tropical Far North Queensland.
Fitzroy Island is undoubtedly one of the finest locations in all of Australia for stand up paddle boarding, with the Great Barrier Reef just metres from the shore of the island’s two main beaches, Welcome Bay and the famous Nudey Beach. While paddling around the calm waters of the island (be sure to hire a glass-bottom SUP), you will have the chance to spot marine turtles, a variety of coral species, giant clams, sea anemones and stunning tropical fish (including Nemo!).
Whether you choose to visit Fitzroy Island for just the day, or stay a little longer at Fitzroy Island Resort, stand up paddle boarding is just one of the incredible ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef and its inhabitants. The island’s Dive and Adventure Centre also has available for hire glass-bottom kayaks, snorkels and masks, scuba diving equipment and more, for an adventure like no other!
Low Isles, near Port Douglas
The Low Isles (two small islands that share the same reef) are located nearby to the famous seaside town of Port Douglas (which is found an hour north of Cairns by car). A 15-kilometre boat ride from the Port Douglas Marina shall see you arriving at the beautiful Low Isles, a popular spot for snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.
In addition to snorkelling, the calm waters of the Low Isles also make the perfect spot for gentle stand up paddle boarding. This area is home to a whopping 150 different species of hard and soft corals, as well as numerous different species of tropical fish. The area is also famous for the chance to see marine turtles in their natural environment.
If you like the sound of stand up paddle boarding at the Low Isles, check out Windswell, a local tour provider that offers SUP tours to the Low Isles a number of days of the week.