There are many places to stand up paddle board in Southern California. One of the local hidden gems is in Carlsbad, CA at the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon. To the locals it is known as the Carlsbad Lagoon. It’s beautiful to paddle at sunrise, sunset, and moonrise. I spend a lot of time at this lagoon coaching beginner and intermediate paddlers. I also love training for SUP races, and paddling with my friends. It’s a great place for learning to SUP on flatwater.
Paddlers can circumvent the lagoon for a 2-3 mile paddle when no motor boats are present. When paddling the lagoon it is best to stay close to shore & paddle the parameter. As you get closer to the west end of the lagoon, marked by buoys, you will have to navigate jet skis & motor boats. This can add some fun & challenge to your paddle, but do keep a safe distance. Once you pass the jet ski area, you can cruise under the I-5 overpass. Be mindful of boats when cruising back along the south side of the lagoon, as paddle boards are not suppose to be on that side. If you go at high tide, you can venture into the tributaries located on east side of the lagoon. If you head back there with the wind, be ready to fight the headwinds on your way back! Please refer to the map below & stay in the passive use areas.
Birds and fish at the lagoon are plentiful. Recently, I observed an Osprey flying with his catch of the day, and later snacking on it in a tree. You will also see the California Brown Pelican, California Towhees cruising around, Egrets, and Great Blue Herons. Many people are surprised by the Mullet jumping up in front of them, and almost landing on their boards! Near the east side of the lagoon you will also see stingrays. As long as you don’t step on them they won’t harm you. Occasionally you can observe a sea lion or sea turtle cruising in the lagoon.
To get to the Carlsbad Lagoon take Interstate 5, take the Tamarack Avenue off-ramp and head east. Make a right on Hillside Drive, another right on Park Drive, then another right on Bayshore Drive and into the cul-de-sac. This is a quiet neighborhood, so please exercise respect, taking heed of dog-walkers and removing your trash when you leave. A right-of-way leads to the shoreline, where you can launch straight into the lagoon. Important rules and regulations for the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon can be found at http://www.carlsbadca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=26088. Passive vessels require a permit. You can purchase a 1 day permit or an annual permit. Permits may be obtained at the Carlsbad Lagoon, online at https://www.carlsbadca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=23909 , or in person at the Monroe Street Pool.
Office hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.