One of the most exciting yet confusing purchases is when you buy your first beginner paddleboard.
It’s really important you get this right, because this could be the difference between you falling in love with this wonderful sport, or dusting off the old board in 5 years time wondering what could’ve been.
Paddleboarding is exciting, invigorating and relaxing.
I can bet you (well, hopefully most of you reading this) imagine yourselves cruising around on flat water on beautiful summer days, exploring the waterways and gazing at the UK landscape from a completely different perspective.
To fully enjoy this type of paddleboarding, you need to know what characteristics to look for in the board.
The first thing to know about a paddleboard is the length defines how good it’ll be at gliding on flat water, so a board that is longer will guide much better and feel faster.
Many brands and blogs suggest only a 10’8 (10 foot 8 inches) inflatable all-rounder is the perfect paddleboard for beginners. However, in my opinion if it’s meant to be OK at everything, it’ll be good at nothing.
I see too many people on the 10’8 boards trying to do mini adventures and doing distances that are just too much for the board they are on. These boards often don’t glide very well, so beginners get exhausted much quicker and get frustrated that they are ‘slow’.
Whilst I agree an inflatable is a good place to start, I’m going to go against the grain to suggest to many people the best beginner paddleboard purchase will not be the standard 10’8 all-rounders.
As a beginner you will have much more fun with a 11’3 to 12’6 length board as your first paddle board purchase, because it’ll glide wonderfully across the water yet still be stable enough for most riders.
This article talks you through our recommendations for the best beginner paddleboards, with nine different options tailored to what it is that you are looking for. These have been carefully selected with different budgets and purposes in mind, and are from legitimate, quality brands that you can buy from here in the UK.
Table of Contents
9 Best Beginner Paddleboards in the UK
Fanatic Ray Air 12’6
Best paddleboard for beginners
+ Great mix of glide and stability
+ Decent package with everything you need to get going
+ Industry leading brand
– Single layer drop stitch not a durable as more expensive boards
From £365.00 – View on the SUP Co
Fanatic have been in the business for 30 years and continue to be one of the leading brands for windsurfing and paddleboarding across the world. Their boards are ridden by professional riders, but don’t let that intimidate you!
They use this leading technology across their range to design and execute fantastic beginners paddleboards boards also, bringing innovation from the best paddleboarders to give you a smooth and satisfying experience.
The Fanatic Ray Air is designed to glide easily, with a long body, and excellent straight line performance. This will be perfect when headed to lakes, rivers or coastline, as you will be able to cover more ground and explore more, with less exertion (but do not worry, it will still be a substantial workout!).
The board is 32” wide, which is the same as every beginner paddleboard, so you do not have to worry about the board being unstable. Along with width, the Fanatic Ray Air has a decent amount of volume (339 litres), allowing you to build your skills from a reasonable level.
What I really like about this board is the blend of performance, technology and cost that will make it perfect for beginners. It’ll be far more fun than a 10’6 beginner board, the paddle and pump are far better than budget alternatives, yet this price is very affordable.
Fanatic generally offer very good value for money on most of their equipment, and this is no exception. This board has a single-layer drop stitch, which makes it lightweight and highly cost-effective. The single layer does have its downsides, like durability and longevity, so if you can afford it, Fanatic also offers the Ray Air in a premium version, which is double layered.
The package itself is very generous, coming with enough add-ons (such as a backpack, fins, nets, pump and more) that you will not need to upgrade anything for a while.
Weight: 9.25 Kg
Wave Tourer 11’
Best budget beginner paddleboard
+ Clean, stylish graphics
+ Great package for the price
+ 12 month warranty
– Single layer drop stitch not a durable as more expensive boards
From £239.99 – View on Wave SUPs
Wave prides itself on creating comfortable, friendly, non-intimidating paddleboards that are suitable for all abilities. Their designs are perfect for beginners looking to learn on flat, calm waters.
Unlike Fanatic, who you have to buy from retailers, Wave is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand, which means they can keep prices low. Wave also have a great customer support team and their boards come with a 12-month warranty, which is great considering the price you’re paying.
The Wave Tourer comes in 2 sizes, a 10’ and 11’. We’ve tested the 11’ and thought it was perfect for most adult riders, however, anyone above 6’2 or 100kgs will struggle on the board. The 10’ would be great for smaller paddleboards or kids from 12 years old.
This board suits beginners who want to head out to calm waters. With a broad nose and flat tail, it provides enhanced stability and glides nicely in a straight line.
Given the single-layer construction and overall build of budget paddleboards, there will be some performance issues compared to more premium boards. As long as you understand that the board won’t feel 100% rigid and may wobble around in choppy conditions, you’ll get a lot of joy
Nonetheless, if cost is the main concern when buying your first beginner paddleboard, then you won’t go far wrong with the Wave Tourer. We think it’s the best budget paddleboard available in the UK.
Included is a comprehensive package of pretty much anything a beginner could need, except for a wetsuit and some sun cream! Despite its low price, it certainly does not have the appearance of a low-budget paddle board, as some boards tend to have some pretty garish graphics as if to reprimand you for saving money.
Weight: 8 Kgs
Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3
Best inflatable beginner paddleboard
+ Most rigid & durable inflatable paddleboard
+ Best pump and paddle
+ 5 year warranty
From £1099 (including paddle) – View on Red Paddle Co
For the creme de la creme, you’ll want a Red Paddle Co board.
Red offers the highest quality paddleboard packages on the UK market. The boards are superb, all of which are very durable and super rigid, and their accessories (paddle, pump etc) are outstanding.
From quality customer service to rigorous testing of their boards (including running over one with a tractor and it still surviving to tell the tale), a Red paddle board should be your top consideration if you have the budget to buy one.
The Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3 is a no nonsense, perfectly designed touring SUP that’ll keep you entertained for years as you progress from beginner to intermediate paddleboarder. The Sport is one of the most popular boards around because it has a perfect combination of glide, tracking and stability, which is what we are looking for in the best beginner paddle board category.
As a beginner you might think the Sport is too advanced for you, but it really isn’t. At 32” inches it’s perfectly wide enough for most beginners to feel nicely secure and balanced.
Although the price may seem steep, this really is the highest quality board out there to buy. If you think that paddleboarding is definitely something that you want to really invest in, and you are committed to progressing, then this could certainly be the one for you.
The quality is first-class, with specially produced high-density drop stitch, MSL technology and great directional control and hull speed. As well as this, it comes with a five-year warranty, multiple included add-ons, and the best overall package that you will never need to upgrade.
When investing in a board like this it’s the extras that make all the difference, from the Rocker Stiffening System (battens that make the board 40% stiffer), to the comfortable 3 piece paddle and the amazing Titan pump.
Weight: 11.3 Kg
Jobe Mira 10’
Best for petite beginners
+ Solid construction
+ 5 year warranty
– Deckpad could extended further back for easier step back turns
From £499 – View on The Sup Co
As previously mentioned, tailoring your board to your size and weight can make all the difference. Unless you can feel a sudden growth spurt coming on, this is something that you should think of long-term when purchasing your board.
The Jobe Mira 10’ inflatable board is lightweight and ideal for smaller and more petite paddleboarders. Generally, your weight is more important than your height when choosing a board, but ending up on a board that is too big for you can really limit your progress, since it makes it so much harder to manoeuvre and handle.
Jobe’s message as a brand really promotes inclusivity, focusing on creating products that can be used by all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities. Having this as their brand message but properly executing it through what they sell is really cool to see.
The Jobe Mira is the perfect solution to that problem.
Like most other boards on this list, the Mira 10’ is 32” inches wide, but has a relatively narrow tail (the back of the board). This narrower tail will have less volume and feel more wobbly and sinky, but that’s perfectly fine if you’re a small rider and will actually help when you progress to step back turns and maybe even trying to catch a small wave.
Being only 4.75’ inches thick instead of the usual 6’, it will still provide you with enough stability as a beginner, provided that you are a beginner under 65kg. This board thickness feels great and the smaller rider will appreciate the feeling of being more connected to the water.
This 4.75’ thickness may be a concern to bigger riders, but Jobe has done a great job creating a board that feels rigid, at a price point that’s very competitive.
Aqua Marina Atlas 12’
Best for maximum stability
+ Wide tail with volume and stability
+ Fairly lightweight considering the size
+ 1 year warranty
– Fairly expensive
On the other side of the coin, having a board that is too small means that you are off balance. Even for experienced paddleboarders, wobbliness can be incredibly frustrating, but for beginners, stability is something that has to be prioritised.
Your progression will be very slow if you spend more time off the board than on it!
The Aqua Marina Atlas board offers fantastic stability at a great price, so would be ideal for anyone that is larger or generally tends to struggle with balance. The Atlas has a maximum payload of 180 kgs, but I’d suggest this board could manage up to 130 kgs comfortably. If you’re any heavier or need more support, you’ll need a board with more advanced features, like the Red All Ride 12’.
Most beginner boards are 32’ inches wide, while the Atlas one is 34’ wide, providing more support and much less rockiness.
Its newly developed wide tail also means that the board has a lot of volume at the back, so will be incredibly buoyant and stable throughout much of the length. Also to assist with balance, its sand-ripple grooving provides extra grip, helping you stay upright with less exertion (and it feels pretty nice under your feet too!).
Whilst the board is perfect for larger or hesitant beginners, it does feel sluggish on the water. Unfortunately this is the consequence of a board that is wide and stable.
Nonetheless, Aqua Marina is a reliable brand, with an inspiring message that its products should take you on journeys and adventures, pushing barriers and breaking limits.
This beginner board should certainly assist you on that journey, especially since you can rely on its supportive volume to carry you out on initial paddle boarding adventures, without too many concerns of falling in!
Weight: 11.8 Kg
Bluefin Cruise 12’
Best family beginner paddleboard
+ Looks great
+ One of the best constructions
+ 5 year warranty
– Slightly heavier but nothing to worry about
From £559.99 – View boards on Bluefin’s website >
There aren’t too many things better for children than some good old-fashioned fresh air, time in nature and the exercise endorphins that come with paddleboarding. I’m sure we (a water sports website) may be biased, but it’s true. If you’re looking for a board that can be used by the family on excursions or regularly, then the Bluefin Cruise 12’ is a fantastic beginner’s board that can certainly withstand the tests of children, family cars and a bit of chaos.
We’ve tested a few Bluefin Cruise models over the years, and it would do them a disservice to say they are just a throwaround board for the family to splash about on. In our opinion Bluefin makes high quality boards and they really care about shape, design and performance.
The 12ft is great at tracking in a straight line and glides pretty well, due to its length.
The reason why we say this is perfect for the family is firstly the size. This board is big enough for just an adult, or adult with a child on board, or even for a few kids to play on.
Secondly, the Cruise has D-Ring placements for a kayak seat. So when everyone has had enough of standing up, or you get to the beach and it’s too choppy for paddleboarding, stick the seat on and you’ll still have loads of fun on the water. The SUP paddle easily converts into a kayak paddle, so you’ll have no problems getting in the sea and having fun.
Thirdly, and finally, these Bluefin boards can take a beating too, for the price you get a board that is put together extremely well. The construction is more akin to a board worth £300 – £400 more.
Bluefin is based in West Yorkshire in the UK, meaning cheaper shipping costs. They also sell their products directly from their own website instead of paying vendors, giving cheaper product costs.
With a five year warranty and highly trustworthy materials, Bluefin are properly committed to creating high quality boards that will last. To avoid family drama, this is something to pay attention to when buying.
Weight: 12.38 Kg
Price – £599.99
Goosehill Sailor 10’6
Best for 1st timers
+ Perfect to play on sunny summer weekends
+ Basic package does the job
– Feels sluggish compared to longer boards
Most of the boards we’ve listed so far are ideal for beginners who want to progress and maximise their fun and adventure on the water.
However, some readers will just want a basic beginner board to play on a summer day at the beach. If you know you are not likely to commit to paddleboarding and want a simple, budget board that’ll be fun to let your family and friends have a play in the shallows, then the Goosehill Sailor 10’6 will do just fine.
We reviewed Goosehill’s new version of Sailor, and thought it was one of the most stable single layered 10’6 boards we’ve come across. It is 32’ inches at its widest point, and also boasts a fairly wide nose and tail, all of which help with stability.
Compared to the Fanatic Ray or the Red Sport, this board is noticeably slower and doesn’t glide half as well as these higher performance boards. The length and width all contribute to this slower and ‘sticker’ feeling on the water, but that’s not why you’re buying this board.
The Goosehill Sailor package is at the budget end of the spectrum, but comes with everything you need to get paddleboarding. When you buy the Sailor, you’ll also get a paddle, pump and leash all in a tidy bag.
Being single layered means the board is not as durable as the Bluefin or BecauseSUP, but it does make it lightweight and much easier to carry if you’re having a day at the beach.
Goosehill aims to relax the body and mind of its customers, boasting to have ‘the steadiest board in the class’ for its beginners. With some great personalised design options, they let you have free creative reign over your beach look, and also is a great way to get some pictures and let your social media know that you paddleboard now.
Although they are an American brand, their customer service reviews are really impressive, especially since they are a direct seller, and do not have an external company deal with issues.
The Goosehill 10’6 brings impressive stability for nervous riders or beginners generally.
Weight: 9.2 kgs
Read our full Goosehill Sailor review >
BecauseSUP Touring 12’6
Best value package
+ Amazing package with carbon paddle & pump
+ Great construction
+ Perfect for those looking to progress
– Simple graphics
From £559 – View on BecauseSUP
While a lot of the paddleboards mentioned so far have the impressive element to glide seamlessly in a straight line, some beginners still may feel a bit unchallenged by this.
If you consider yourself adventurous, the BecauseSUP Touring 12’6 paddleboard may actually be a better option for you, since it would be more of a long-term investment if you are less likely to become bored.
The BecauseSUP has been tried and tested by us against other touring paddleboards and has come out the best value in terms of quality, value, and performance for the price tag.
For beginners, it is a great board to ease you into touring, due to its length of 12’6 feet, and well-built construction, it still feels rigid enough to support you when you are starting out. In fact, the build and reinforcement of its nose and rails place it in direct competition with some of the Red paddleboards.
Its width is 30 inches, 2 inches less than the average beginner board, so if width and stability is something that is non-negotiable for you, it might not be right.
Not only does its performance on the water provide fantastic value for money, but its accessories also make this well worth the cash.
The package includes a full carbon paddle, double chamber pump, and quick-release waist belt. As a beginner, it can be tedious shopping around for all of the different gadgets needed in order to not drown, but BecauseSUP makes this a much easier experience.
Weight: 9.5 Kg
Tahe Beach Performer 11’6
+ Most durable board
+ Suitable for flat water and small waves
From £655 – View on The Sup Co
I know, it’s another classic ‘best of’ blog that only promotes inflatable paddle boards. There is a reason for this, inflatables are a great choice for beginners because they are generally cheaper, more forgiving when climbing back on and they are easy to store and transport.
However, if you’re a beginner wanting a hard board, then we’d recommend looking at the Tahe range as your first purchase. These boards are built differently from most other hard boards on the UK market, they are made from moulded plastic making them extremely durable.
The Tahe board is designed for both flat water and wave surfing, making it a board that suits beginners who are already eager to advance into intermediate level, and want to try a board that can do more than just glide on flat lakes. While the BecauseSUP does this for touring, the Tahe TT offers the chance to wave surf with a board of incredibly durable construction.
Given how easily hard boards can damage since they tend to be fairly brittle, the Tahe board is practically bullet proof in comparison. Boasting that it is almost ding-proof, this is a reliable board that can withstand the test of many variables (just don’t be leaving it out in the sun).
Just like the Bluefin Cruise, it is a solid, durable board that dogs and children can traipse over, people can barge into, and it can stand being accidentally dropped, without your heart needing to leap into your mouth, and worries of losing hundreds of pounds flood your mind.
Overall this board is another one that is perfect for beginners with that taste of adventure, and an idea in mind of where they would like their paddleboarding to take them to.
Weight: 15.9 Kg
How to choose your beginner paddle board
Here is a quick guide if you’re still struggling what to choose:
Your paddleboard goals
The first thing to decide is what do you imagine you’ll do paddleboarding?
Are you likely to commit some time learning and developing your skills, or do you just want to potter around on the odd sunny day at the beach.
If you want to really get into paddleboarding, then you’ll want a board to match. The Fanatic, Red Paddle Co, or BecauseSUP will be perfect for you.
For those who might use their board a few times a year, go for the Goosehill Sailor or Wave Tourer.
A 110kg 6’3 male needs a different sized board to a 5’3, 55kg female. Boards come in all shapes and sizes and you’ll need to buy one that’s right for you.
We’d recommend trying paddleboarding first before you buy a new board. If you have a lesson or rent a board, take a note of the size and if you feel fairly comfortable standing up, that’s a great place to start.
It is very easy for beginners to be led astray and convinced into buying ridiculously cheap and unsuitable boards that they cannot use.
This is understandable because it’s almost impossible to know what to choose, especially when there are loads of blogs titled ‘Best Paddleboard for Beginners’ that only list cheap kit from Amazon.
If you want to enjoy paddleboarding and think you’re going to get on the water more than 10 – 15 times a year, you’ll want to spend £500 – £600+.
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.