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The Best Places for Paddle Boarding in Louisiana

best places to paddle board louisiana featured

Vibrant culture, exceptional cuisine, and alligators–these are some of the things that Louisiana is known and loved for. This diverse and colorful state is also the birthplace of Jazz music. 

But that’s not all. The Pelican state hides an interesting fun fact: it’s home to the largest river swamp in North America—the Atchafalaya Basin. This, plus many of its other unique waterways, makes it a dream destination for adventurous paddle boarders.

If you’re looking for the best paddleboarding locations in Louisiana, you’re in luck. I bring you some of the best places to go paddle boarding in Louisiana, from serene bayous and glassy lakes to winding river passages. I also have a bonus location recommended by a local paddle boarding expert. 

So read on. 

Bayou Lafourche – Local Expert-Recommended Paddling Spot in Louisiana


Bayou Lafourche is less than an hour’s drive south of New Orleans in Lafourche Parish. It flows through parts of two other parishes. 

Recommended by Ridge Gonsoulin from Geaux Paddle he says, “You can adventure out onto Bayou Lafourche,  the longest Main Street in the world, on one of our rented SUPs. You will enjoy serene views of Thibodaux and may even see an alligator or two.” 

Stretching over 100 miles, Bayou Lafourche promises a fun adventure, regardless of where you launch from. Views of nature and historic cities and towns will make your paddling experience one for the books.

Note that Bayou Lafourche is a major commerce waterway so it can get pretty busy. 

Paddlers can expect to see the iconic moss-draped cypress trees along the bayou, creating an elegant atmosphere that transports them to another world. 

As you float along the bayou, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls this place home. Herons, egrets, and turtles are often spotted near Bayou Lafourche, either moving through the water or perched up on a tree somewhere. 

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program holds a 50-mile annual paddling trip. It’s a great opportunity for paddlers to meet and interact while having fun. 

LocationBayou Lafourche runs from Donaldsonville, through Thibodaux, Raceland, and Lockport, to Port Fourchon
TypeFreshwater bayou
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and historic
WildlifeAlligators, turtles, egrets, herons
AmenitiesPark, paddleboard rentals

The Best Locations for Paddle Boarding in Louisiana by Region

Regardless of where you are in the state, you’re never too far from a thrilling paddling spot. So here are some great places to go paddle boarding in Louisiana. 

North Louisiana

Bayou Bartholomew

If you find yourself in northern Louisiana, you might want to check out Bayou Bartholomew. It’s the longest bayou in the world, stretching for over 360 miles through Louisiana and Arkansas. The bayou is undammed, which means you’re in for a wild and authentic adventure. 

It has been named one of the most diverse waterways in North America. Anglers will love the abundance of different fish species, including catfish and crappie, and others that you won’t find anywhere else. You may also see turtles, alligators, and different bird species. 

Usually, the stream flows lazily, making it suitable for paddlers of all skill levels. But pay attention to the weather as conditions can get rough sometimes. 

One of the most scenic paddling here is through Chemin-a-Haut. Paddle board through an unspoiled forest where you can spot ancient trees, including one that is believed to be over 1000 years old. It has a hollow tree that can fit multiple paddlers inside!

LocationFlows from Arkansas through Chemin-a-Haut State Park and into the Ouachita River
TypeSlow-moving stream but can get dangerous in storms
DifficultyBeginner to Advanced
SceneryNatural, historic, and scenic
WildlifeAlligators, turtles, crappie, mussels, bream, catfish
AmenitiesState park, paddleboard rentals

Lake Bistineau


Lake Bistineau is an enchanting lake with a rich history dating back to the 19th century when it was created. The original lake drained but the government built a permanent dam resulting in the modern-day Lake Bistineau. 

The reservoir extends across Webster, Bienville, and Bossier parishes and is about half an hour’s drive from Shreveport. 

Old cypress trees are lined up along the lake making this a perfect paddling spot for paddlers who like to get lost in nature.

Feel free to bring your fishing gear and you just might get lucky. Lake Bistineau is home to a number of fish species including smallmouth, spotted, white, and striped bass as well as catfish and crappie. 

You can enjoy scenic views on your SUP board as you paddle out to any one of the islands. Other than paddling, Lake Bistineau State Park has hiking trails, horseback riding, and other activities that will keep you entertained. 

LocationNear Shreveport City
TypeFreshwater lake with cypress trees 
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and serene
WildlifeBass, crappie, catfish, turtles, herons, egrets
AmenitiesState park with camping, fishing, hiking, biking

Black Bayou Lake


Black Bayou Lake is found within the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and is owned by the City of Monroe. The refuge serves as a sanctuary for numerous plant and animal species. 

You’ll be treated to beautiful views as you glide along on your SUP, thanks to the lush cypress trees and aquatic vegetation that covers the lake’s shoreline. This, plus the American lotus flowers floating on the water surface, offer an unforgettable paddling experience–and enviable Instagram photos. 

Keep your eyes peeled for anhingas, alligators, egrets, great blue herons, banded water snakes, tree frogs, red-eared sliders, white-tailed deer, and more. 

Other than paddling and getting lost in the magical views, you might also want to try a little SUP fishing. It’s a popular activity on Black Bayou Lake. Some of the common fish species include bluegill, sunfish, crappie, catfish, and largemouth bass. 

LocationMonroe in Ouachita Parish
TypeFreshwater lake with cypress trees and swampy areas
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and wild
WildlifeAlligators, snakes, frogs, deer, anhingas
AmenitiesNational Wildlife Refuge

South Louisiana

Atchafalaya Basin


This massive river swamp is the largest wetland in the United States and, without a doubt, one of the best places for paddle boarding in Louisiana. With an area of almost one million acres, the basin offers a unique SUP experience that will leave you in awe. The river stretches from Simmersport to Morgan City. 

One of the most magical features you’ll see is the towering cypress trees and their roots known as “cypress knees”. Paddling here feels like gliding through a living, breathing forest out of a painting–it’s the perfect escape from concrete jungles and the hustles of daily life. 

As you can imagine, the Atchafalaya Basin is home to a wide variety of wildlife. With over 60 species of amphibians and reptiles, 250 bird species, and more than 100 fish species, your paddling trip will be anything but boring. 

The basin offers fantastic fishing opportunities, with catfish, bass, and more lurking beneath the waters, just waiting for you to cast your line. So, don’t forget to bring your fishing gear for an even more thrilling adventure.

LocationSouth Central Louisiana, through eight parishes
TypeRiver swamp
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and mystic
WildlifeAlligators, bald eagles, black bears, beavers, armadillo
AmenitiesState park, paddling trails, paddleboard rentals

Bayou Segnette State Park


Nestled near New Orleans, Bayou Segnette State Park is ideal for paddlers who don’t want to travel too far from the city to enjoy natural wonders. 

The lush greenery and cypress trees–a common theme in Louisiana waterways–allow you to escape into nature and forget about everything else for a moment. And with the diverse wildlife inhabiting Bayou Segnette, you won’t be lonely. Expect to spot turtles, egrets, alligators, bald eagles, and other animals that are sure to enrich your experience. 

For those seeking to cast their lines, fishing opportunities abound in Bayou Segnette State Park. With plentiful bass, bream, catfish, and other species, you just might catch something worth bragging about.

Other than paddle boarding, the park has a picnic area, pool, and a hiking trail. It would make a great destination for a family fun day. 

LocationWestwego, Jefferson Parish
TypeSwamp and marshland
SceneryNatural and scenic
WildlifeArmadillos, alligators, raccoons, hawks, bald eagles
AmenitiesFamily-friendly state park with picnic, pool, playground

Bayou Teche


Bayou Teche is a 125-mile waterway that was formed thousands of years ago. It winds through charming towns and gorgeous landscapes in several parishes. 

You will be treated to views of ancient live oak trees along the bank, Acadian-style homes, and beautiful wildflowers along the edge. The bayou supports a diverse ecosystem and you can expect to see a few animals–a turtle sunbathing, a bald eagle soaring above you, and more. 

Bayou Teche is a slow-moving waterway and it’s an ideal location for new paddlers to test their skills. Its abundant aquatic life also makes it a great spot for paddle board anglers. You can catch catfish, bass, gar, sunfish, and bream. 

If you book one of the many paddle board tours in this area, you can ask your guide to tell you about the legend of Bayou Teche

The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge is situated along the bayou. It was formed to restore and manage cypress-tupelo swamps, marshes, and bottomland hardwood forests to support the Louisiana black bear. 

LocationBegins in Port Barre, St Landry Parish, and flows through multiple parishes
TypeSlow-moving river with historic towns and plantations
DifficultyBeginner to advanced
SceneryCultural and historic
WildlifeSnakes, alligators, turtles, minks, deer, hummingbirds, bald eagles, owls
AmenitiesWildlife refuge, national water trail with access points

Grand Isle


Grand Isle is a scenic barrier island located in Jefferson Parish, in southern Louisiana. It’s the only inhabited barrier island in the state and a perfect spot for paddle boarders who love a coastal adventure. 

The stunning views of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant sunsets over the horizon are nothing short of magical. They’ll make you want to freeze time so the moment can last a little longer. 

Fishing is a big part of the Grand Isle culture and the island is actually one of America’s best fishing locations. There are hundreds of fish species here including speckled trout which are abundant all year round. 

Birding is also popular here, and there’s even an annual Migratory Bird Festival to celebrate the birds’ arrival in Spring! 

LocationOn the Gulf of Mexico in Jefferson Parish
TypeSaltwater island with sandy beaches and marshes
SceneryCoastal and tropical
WildlifeSeagulls, brown pelicans, crabs, dolphins
AmenitiesState park with camping, fishing, swimming

East Louisiana

Lake Pontchartrain


If you’re a paddle boarder who likes to hunt for picturesque views then you will love Lake Pontchartrain. Fun fact: It’s actually not a lake but an estuary with an average depth of 12 feet. 

It’s one of the largest inland bodies of water in the United States and is located in southeast Louisiana, just a short drive from New Orleans. In addition to its rich history, it offers many recreational opportunities for water sports enthusiasts, including paddlers. 

Your eyes will be lost in the breathtaking views of stunning sunsets and expansive waters, with the iconic Causeway Bridge stretching across the horizon. It’s the longest continuous bridge over water in the entire world! 

Many animals call this place home. Since it connects to the Gulf of Mexico, you might encounter all kinds of animals, including bull sharks. 

The lake’s marshy areas also attract an abundance of fish, making it a fantastic spot for SUP anglers to cast their lines. Common fish species here include bass, sheepshead, flounder, catfish, and speckled trout–depending on the salinity. 

LocationNear New Orleans in Orleans Parish
TypeBrackish with saltwater and freshwater inflows
DifficultyIntermediate to advanced
SceneryUrban and scenic
WildlifeBald eagles, manatees, otters, pelicans
AmenitiesMultiple state parks with different facilities, paddle board rentals

Tickfaw River


The Tickfaw River flows from Mississippi to Livingston Parish in Louisiana. 

The over 100-mile long river meanders through scenic landscapes. Expect to be wowed by stunning views of cypress trees, draped in Spanish moss. The area has a gentle and serene atmosphere that is both calming and refreshing. 

Besides, the Tickfaw River is a designated Scenic River by the State of Louisiana. It allows you to explore the state’s unspoiled and natural beauty on your paddle board. 

Once you’re done paddling, you can go on a night hike in Tickfaw State Park in Springfield. It’s the perfect way to end your adventure. The park is one of the most popular state parks in Louisiana, thanks to its diverse ecosystem and unique natural characteristics. 

Even better, it’s easy to access as it is close to the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. 

Keep your eyes open for alligators and turtles that are often spotted hiding under the trees. 

LocationNear Springfield in Livingston Parish
TypeFreshwater river with clear and shallow water
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and relaxing
WildlifeBass, turtles, snakes, armadillos, alligators, beavers
AmenitiesState park with fishing, hiking

Lake Maurepas

Like the Tickfaw River, Lake Maurepas is also somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In fact, the river flows into it, along with three other rivers. The lake has an average depth of 10 feet and is the second-largest Louisiana lake fully within the state’s borders. 

Despite its size, it’s not as popular as you would expect and there are no cities or towns along its shores. This is what makes it such an amazing paddling location–hidden, natural, and serene. It’s mainly accessible by boat and paddle craft.  

Sunrises and sunsets here are breathtaking and the cypress trees with draping Spanish moss add even more magic to the views. 

The lake offers one of the best locations to explore and experience a typical Louisiana swamp. The Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area is located along the shores of the lake to the south. 

Other than the scenic landscape views, Lake Maurepas is teeming with wildlife. You will be in the company of alligators, osprey, wood ducks, rabbits, bald eagles, and squirrels. Largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and sunfish are also in plenty here, making it an ideal destination for SUP anglers. 

LocationNear Ponchatoula in Tangipahoa Parish
TypeFreshwater lake with cypress trees and swampy areas
DifficultyIntermediate to advanced
SceneryNatural and diverse
WildlifeAlligators, otters, ducks, bald eagles
AmenitiesWildlife management area with boat ramps

West Louisiana

Caddo Lake


This 25,400-acre lake is located in northwest Louisiana at the border with Texas in Caddo Parish. The lake has been around for thousands of years and has one of the biggest flooded cypress forests in the country.

If you’re a nature enthusiast you’ll be happy to know that the lake is teeming with wildlife. You can expect a few exciting encounters when gliding leisurely on your paddle board.  Some of the animals that call Caddo Lake home include alligators, snakes, frogs, river otters, eagles, and waterfowl. There are tons of plant species as well.

For SUP anglers, Caddo Lake is a fantastic fishing spot inhabited by over 90 fish species. Some of the most common are redear sunfish, bluegill, bass, catfish, crappie, and chain pickerel. The best thing about being on a paddle board is that you can access backwater fishing spots easily. So you’re in for a treat!

LocationOn the border with Texas near Mooringsport in Caddo Parish
TypeFreshwater lake with cypress trees and Spanish moss
DifficultyIntermediate to advanced
SceneryNatural and mysterious
WildlifeAlligators, beavers, bobcats, eagles, frogs, snakes, river otters
AmenitiesLake-front park with fishing pier, boat ramp, picnic area

Calcasieu River


The 200-mile Calcasieu River meanders through multiple parishes, starting from Vernon Parish into the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish is the largest city on this river. 

The river flows through different types of scenery that will make every minute of your trip fun. Cypress trees lined up along the shores add to the already charming beauty of the landscape. And with hundreds of miles to explore, you have varied paddling trails to check out. 

Waterfowl, menhaden, turtles, snakes, and shrimp are just a few of the wildlife species that call the river home. 

Anglers love to visit Calcasieu River as it’s a nice fishing location as well. So if you like, feel free to bring your SUP fishing gear. The main targets are usually largemouth bass and you might also catch sunfish, catfish, and crappie. 

Note that the river levels can change drastically when it rains so you need to be careful.

LocationSouthwest Louisiana, flows through Lake Charles
TypeFreshwater river
DifficultyIntermediate to advanced
SceneryNatural and peaceful
WildlifeBass, catfish, crappie, turtles, snakes
AmenitiesPublic boat launches, fishing spots

Sam Houston Jones State Park


This state park is located where the Calcasieu and Houston rivers converge, not far from Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish. 

The natural environment in this park is diverse and unique, making it ideal for paddlers who love to immerse themselves in nature. 

What’s more relaxing than paddle boarding through bald cypress trees as you enjoy the company of vibrant wildlife? Besides, it has multiple waterways and attracts numerous water sports enthusiasts.

The park is home to alligators, nutria rats, raccoons, deer, bobcats, ducks, and many other animals. 

LocationNear Moss Bluff in Calcasieu Parish
TypeFreshwater lakes and streams with pine forests and hardwoods
DifficultyBeginner to intermediate
SceneryNatural and scenic
WildlifeDeer, squirrels, rabbits, ducks, geese
AmenitiesState park with camping, fishing, hiking

How to Choose the Best Places for Paddle Boarding in Louisiana

The different paddling locations here offer different paddling experiences. To pick the best one, you need to consider your location, skill level, and the kind of adventure you want. 

For instance, some paddle boarders prefer an island adventure surrounded by white sandy beaches. Others would love a river experience with trees along the shores and the occasional alligator sunbathing on the bank. 

If you’re a beginner, pick an area that is easy to boost your confidence and for your safety as well. 

Some locations are remote and harder to access so you need to have that in mind too. If you’re traveling with family, state parks are more suited as they have restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds, and other amenities that will make things easier for you. 

Louisiana Paddle Boarding Laws

Paddle board laws vary from state to state so don’t be caught unaware. 

Everyone under the age of 16 has to wear a USCG-approved life jacket on a vessel less than 26 feet long. For older passengers, you need to have a wearable USCG-approved life jacket somewhere on board. 

The state of Louisiana has a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) law that applies to paddle boards. It is illegal to operate a watercraft with a blood alcohol content of 0.8% or greater or while under the influence of a controlled substance. 

If you intend to go SUP fishing, please familiarize yourself with Louisiana fishing regulations

Wrapping Up

The colorful state of Louisiana offers countless tourist attractions. And for paddlers, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to paddling locations. You can choose whatever suits you best–from rivers to swamps to lakes, and more. 

Regardless of what you intend to do on your SUP–fishing, birdwatching, catching magical sunsets–there’s a paddling place that’s perfect for you. 

The paddle boarding spots are scattered all over Louisiana so you don’t have to travel too far from where you’re staying. 

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