Why we bought paddleboards rather than canoes or kayaks:

What I like about paddleboards is their versality, e.g. you can stand and paddle (and get a way better view than you can on a kayak or canoe), or you can lay down and paddle (and still see the horizon from a laying down position), or sit and paddle.

You can also get on and off really easily.  With a canoe or kayak it is really hard to get back in if you fall out.  With a paddleboard it is so easy to get back on that many of us deliberately jump off to swim for a while and then jump back on, taking alternating bouts of swimming and paddling.  In this way we tow the paddleboard and use it as a safety visibility marker.  When we swim on trips to Toronto Island we tow our paddleboards behind us so boats can see us better than with a normal towfloat, and also so we can bring lots of spare cargo, e.g. large watermelon, loaf of bread, kale, avocado, etc..  In this case we follow a strict set of safety tips such as carrying 2 lifejackets and 2 paddles on each board, so as to be able to help other swimmers, and surround swimmers by paddleboards, etc..

The other nice thing about paddleboarding is that you can take varying numbers of passengers, e.g. a variety of children and dogs, etc., whereas a kayak or canoe has a specific number of seats.

Why I bought a cheap board and a high-end paddle:

Many of us ordered on Amazon.com the lowest cost board, e.g. $279 and now there's some under $200 and one as low as $135.99 and what we found is that in some cases the very low-cost boards were actually really good quality and well made.

It is best to get a board that has 3 removable fins (don't get one in which some of the fins are permanently fixed), ideally with identical base, e.g. most of them have 2 small fins and 1 big fin with all 3 fins having the same identical mount, so that if you want you can install 3 large fins for better tracking, for example, and in an emergency (e.g. if one of the fins breaks), it is easier to fix if all three have the same mounting.  For example if one side fin breaks you can move the middle fin over to the side as a quick temporary fix.

The low cost boards are often very good quality but the paddle that comes with the board is usually not great, so many of us buy a carbon fiber paddle and use it with a cheap board and get good results that way. That decision can be made later, e.g. if you get a cheap board and really like paddling and use it a lot then you can buy a good paddle. Often a good paddle costs more than the original board plus paddle, but you only need to make that choice if you really paddle a lot and start to get very serious.  Keep the original paddle that came with the board as a spare.  It is nice to have 2 paddles and 2 lifejackets on board the vessel in case of emergency, etc..

The other thing to look for is lots of "D" rings on the board, e.g. for carrying cargo, and for towing the board as a towfloat (eg. to swim and tow it behind you).

What's wonderful about paddleboarding is versatility, e.g. you can lay down on it and paddle, you stand up and paddle, or you can sit down and paddle.

Another nice feature to look for is "D" rings arranged to accept a kayak seat so that you can convert it to and from a kayak back and forth e.g. some days stand and some days sit. Most of us prefer to stand or lay down or sit occasionally, but some people like to sit down all day and paddle, in which case a seat might be a nice option.

If you come to SwimOP to swim and paddle with us, we're happy to help out.  Some of us have electric pumps (e.g. running off 48 volt to 12 volt converters from our ebikes) and can help you with pumping up your board.

Check out our safety tips for swimming and paddling to Toronto Island, etc..