Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the best ways to explore Sydney’s big blue playground of harbours, lakes and beaches. The best part? It’s great for beginners.

“Stand up paddleboarding has a shorter learning curve than most other board sports,” says Craig Mould, owner and founder of Manly Kayak Centre. “On average, first-timers will begin to feel comfortable on a board within an hour.”

Although it may be easy to pick up, Mould still recommends taking a lesson first to ensure you get the most out it. He says newbies should choose a flat, calm, wind-free spot and start on their knees to gain balance before attempting to stand up.

“People of all ages can try stand-up paddleboarding … it’s also great to be able to jump off for a quick dip on those hot summer days.”

Sydney has plenty of picturesque spots to get paddling. Here are our top five picks.

Rose Bay
If you want to enjoy panoramic views of the city and bridge while paddleboarding, try the calm waters of Rose Bay. Part of Rose Bay is a dog beach, so your pooch can go for the adventure, too. Boards can be rented from the Oz Sup Rose Bay Stand Up Paddle Centre near the Woollahra Sailing Club. Lessons are also available.

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The Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, at the southern end of Manly Beach, is a prime place to learn how to stand on a paddleboard. The small, north-facing bay is protected from the wind and has a diverse marine habitat, with hundreds of species of fish to spot. You can hire a board from Manly Kayak Centre beside the Fast Ferry wharf. Boards can be rented by the hour and lessons are also available. Instructors can start you off from the beach or from the company’s own wharf.

The still waters of Balmoral are excellent for paddleboarding. The area is full of great spots to explore such as the famous Balmoral Baths or the beautiful homes on Burran Avenue. The Boatshed at Balmoral Beach hires out boards by the hour, for a half or full day. They're available for pick up right on the water to avoid any heavy lifting. Learners are encouraged to start off with an easy paddle around their moorings at the Boatshed, then pop back afterwards for a caffeine hit or meal.

If you want to forget you’re anywhere near the city, spend the day paddling on the Narrabeen Lagoon. Surrounded by bushland and wildlife, this peaceful place is one of the Northern Beaches’ most precious natural assets. It also offers safe, flat conditions for paddlers. Hire a board from Jamieson Park Paddle or take part in one of their group or private lessons. Jamieson Park itself, which fronts onto the lagoon, has shaded picnic areas with barbeques for a cook-up after your day on the water.

Cronulla has ideal conditions for both beginners and more experienced paddlers, particularly at the safe, flat waters of Gunnamatta Bay. More experienced paddlers can head to some of the shire's beautiful beaches. Cronulla Standup Paddleboard Shop and School, in the heart of town, has a whole gamut of classes ranging from flat-water paddling to riding waves and even stand-up paddleboard yoga. They also have boards available to rent and buy.