Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) in Port Douglas, Queensland

Haven’t you always wanted to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding? In Tropical North Queensland? On a picturesque river? With no crocs in sight?

I know I have. Especially the no crocs bit.

Stand up paddle boarding, Port Douglas, Queensland

How about visiting the town of Port Douglas, listed at number 3 on Australian Traveller magazine’s list of 100 Best Towns In Australia?

Well, put these two experiences together like I recently did and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a crystal clear river, lush rainforest, paddle in hand and enjoying one of the best forms of cross-training in nature you’ll find.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, SUP for short, is an emerging global sport, and apparently the fastest growing water sport in the world.

SUP is an ancient form of surfing where the surfer uses a paddle to move through the water while standing on a large surfboard.

I’ve witnessed people doing SUP in harbours, at the beach riding waves and on lakes before, but never in an idyllic river setting like the Mossman River.

We were staying at Port Douglas, and just a short scenic drive 15 minutes north takes you to Mossman, a picturesque township and gateway to the Mossman Gorge.

When I first found out I was going to be doing SUP on a river, in North Queensland, the first thing that came to my mind was “aren’t there crocs in the rivers up north?

Fortunately, the Mossman River is fresh water so no big saltwater crocs living there, and being crystal clear also eases the mind without having to worry about anything lurking below the surface.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas

Stand up paddle boarding always looked like fun and an easy form of exercising out in nature, so I was excited to give it a go.

After a quick 10 minute instructional lesson from our guide, we all got the hang of it pretty quickly.

The board is long, flat and wide making it relatively easy to get your balance. You start on your knees, and once you have your centre of gravity it’s an easy transition to standing up.

We headed up stream to start, which provided for some natural resistance and some stronger strokes needed, and we also had to weave in and out of logs and fallen tree branches.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas
Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas
Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas

I have to agree, SUP is one of the best forms of cross training as I could feel it working the core, legs and upper body all at the same time – plus I was having a ton of fun.

After about 45 minutes of paddling upstream, we turned around and the return journey with the current flowing steadily beneath us made it incredibly relaxing.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas

I’m told that platypuses call the Mossman River home.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any but I did see some bird life, impressive bamboo trees and the local aboriginal kids enjoying their natural playground swimming along the banks.

If you want to see playtypus in the wild, Eungella National Park in nearby Mackay is the best place!

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas
Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas
Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Port Douglas

If you’re looking for an alternative to surfing and feel like a paddle, give it a go, and it can be fun for all the family.

Besides the Mossman River, the other alternatives in Port Douglas to try SUP is on the sensational Four Mile Beach, including a sunset paddle, or a SUP fishing experience.


To get a taste of Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Tropical North Queensland including the Rainforest River Tour, 4 Mile Beach and SUP fishing experience check out
Disclaimer: I visited Tropical North Queensland as a guest of Tourism Queensland

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10 thoughts on “Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) in Port Douglas, Queensland”

  1. Love it. We stand up paddle on Lake Eildon and it is heaps of fun. Also very easy to adapt to – I know my first time I was surprised at how quickly I worked it out. I am impressed that you managed to take photos whilst paddling…… πŸ˜‰

    1. Hey Alli,

      Yep, had my little Canon G15 strapped around my kneck to take a few snap shots. Isn’t it a great way to get some exercise?!

  2. Stand-up paddling boarding didn’t exist when I was in Port Douglas 20 years ago, but the sweet little town of Port Douglas was such a big highlight on my 3 month tour of Australia that I stayed for a month!!! I even got certified to scuba dive at a dive shop there… nothing doing your first open water dive on the Great Barrier Reef.

    (btw CommentLuv didn’t luv my blog, so here’s my latest… Humpback whales breaching all around our sailboat in Mexico:

    1. Hey Emily,

      Was our first ever visit to Port Douglas and we fell in love with the place. It’s been added to our list of places we could live for 6 months or so πŸ™‚

  3. I have seen this done in the ocean, but have never thought of doing it on a river. Previously I thought I would not be able to do it but the board is so wide I think I could! Now I know how they manage to do SUP Yoga – not that I think I would be capable of that. Something for Caz to try?

      1. SUP Yoga is awesome! So relaxing and really cool being out on the water. Of course it does take a bit getting used to at the start.

  4. Croc free water, how refreshing! Although it would have been really cool to have seen some of those platypuses (platypi?).

    Years ago I thought it would be a great idea to take my first surf lesson in Surfer’s Paradise cuz, you know, the name. Mistake. Sure, it’s a paradise if you already know how to surf. For the rest of us, not so much. I spent more time chasing my board down as it tumbled to the beach in the surf than actually doing any surfing. And my body hurt All. Over. the next day.

    SUP is a much more beginner-friendly sport. Especially when you don’t have to worry about crocs πŸ˜‰

  5. Nice! You have great pictures and I agree that the fastest growing water sport in the world is sup. My next destination would be Australia and I am so excited about it. Thank you for inspiring me more πŸ™‚

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