Product Review – Entry Level Board Options by Riviera
  • For some that come to this site, they are looking for info on what this SUP craze is all about.  Several times per week I get asked “what board should I buy?”  The answer to that question is not as simple as it sounds.  Before I answer them, I typically try and qualify their needs based on these determining factors:

    – Size and Weight

    – Type of Water (Lake, Ocean, River, etc.)

    – Athletic Ability

    – What is the primary use for the board (surfing, racing, touring, fishing, etc.)?

    – Budget

    That last question really ends up determining what they purchase as much or more than the others.  I can find a ton of all around boards out there, that can do fine on either flat water or surf.  What the person has to spend, will invariably determine what I recommend more than any thing else, other than size and weight.

    For many people will primarily be using their board for flat water, I tend to like to recommend a racing style board, even if they don’t intend to race.  The reason for this is 100% about comfort and the glide.  Once you get a chance to ride on a good race board, its really hard to go back.  They glide almost effortlessly through the water.  I also really enjoy how quiet some of them are.  Unlike the all around surf board style SUP’s, you don’t hear the water splashing up on the hull.  They are just super quiet as they progress through the water.  Not only does this make your paddle session more relaxing, I also find I see more wildlife, as I don’t tend to scare off the fish, turtles, and other creatures as much.

    While race boards are great, they also tend to be expensive, so for  this review I will be focusing on the entry level products.  These are often targeted at people  buying their very first board.  These buyers are often on a tight budget, or trying to keep their investment low, while they determine if they like the sport or not.

    In addition to the first time buyers, you will also see families buy products in this range.  One scenario I see playing out a lot is, either mom or dad get into the sport initially.  Then the other spouse, kids, or both, decide they want to SUP too, necessitating the need for at least one more board.


    $799 SUP’s for the Masses

    Riviera_package_emailThe price point I would like to explore with this review is $799 (board only).  What can you get for $799?  2 years ago, you couldn’t get anything for that price.  Now there are several good options.  Yolo has a nice soft-top model worth considering, and Surftech has a Red Tip board, that is even cheaper than $799.  I will be exploring both of these options in a future review.  For today’s discussion though, I would like to focus on a set of Riviera Products.

    The 3 boards pictured, are all made from the same construction and carry the same suggested retail price of $799.  I have seen other products being sold online (primarily) in this same type of price point, but you are likely not getting the same quality as you are here.  These boards have 2-3 layers of 6lbs Fiberglass on top and bottom, and 5 layers on the rails.  In case you are wondering, fiberglass is what is used to make boards more rigid and sturdy.  The more glass, the better the durability (as a general case in point).  I doubt you will find a more durable board in this price range, unless you were to go with a roto-mold board, which are often quite heavy and slow.  In fact, I know of multiple retailers, who are using these boards for their rental fleets, due to their price and durability.

    I have personally ridden the 11’6 version of this board, and I was quite happy with it.  It was stable, and it tracked well..  It wasn’t the fastest board on the water that day, but it could hang with any of the other similarly shaped boards on the water.

    The board is offered in 3 sizes.  They offer 9’2, 10’6, and 11’6.  My recommendation is to go with the 11’6, if you aren’t sure what size is right for you.  If you are a light weight male or an average sized woman, you might be fine with the 10’6, but I wouldn’t do the 9’2, unless your primary use for the board is surfing and you are relatively experienced.  It is a good board, it just isn’t the ideal dimensions for a beginner, or someone primarily riding in flat water conditions.  That all said, I am looking for a shorter surf SUP for my trips to the coast and the Nugg is high on my list right now.

    As for the paddle, you can buy that separately, or get the package deal, with a Danny Ching Scout Carbon Fiber Paddle.  That will typically add $150 more to the package, bringing you up to $949.  Not the cheapest option you can find, but well worth the little bit of extra you will spend versus some of the internet only brands.

    In short, these are good boards.  They aren’t top of the line, but they are great boards for the price.  As a point of reference, I paid around $1700 for my first C4 board, which was also 11’6, and I can’t say I like it any better than this Riviera.  As a dedicated surf SUP, it might be better, as it has a better rocker.  For flat-water though, I like this board just as well, and its significantly cheaper.  For the price, you can’t go wrong with these Riviera Boards.  They ride well and they are durable.

    Conclusions (a perfect score is 5 out of 5)

    Build Quality

    Review Helmets 4 wide


    Review Helmets 3 wide


    Review Helmets 4 wide

    Overall Rating

    Review Helmets 4 wide

    These boards are available through local Surf and SUP dealers.  To find one in your area, click here


    Specs and product info from Riviera Website


    Riviera 11’6″ Stand Up Paddle Board w/ Handle & Traction


    Rivi-116_largeThe Riviera 11’6″ is a perfect board for first time paddlers, and the most stable board we make. Very stable cruiser that comes with a nice comfy traction pad. Ideal for touring & surfing.


    Length: 11’6″
    Width: 32″
    Thickness: 4 1/8″

    Fin System

    Single Fin


    Riviera 10’6″ Stand Up Paddle Board w/ Handle & Traction



    The Riviera 10’6″ is a perfect board for first time paddlers. Very stable cruiser that comes with traction, and a built in handle for carrying. Ideal for touring & surfs well.
    It has a 2 + 1 setup that give you the options for different paddling conditions. About as stable as a Ron House 12ft SUP.


    Length: 10’6″
    Width: 32″
    Thickness: 4 1/8″

    Fin System

    2+1 Thruster, Diamond Tail

    Riviera 9’2″ “NUGG” Stand Up Paddle Board w/ Handle & Traction



    The 9’2″ Riviera NUGG is an agile board for all paddlers. It’s shorter size makes it easier to handle/transport, perfect for women and children. This SUP is 31″ wide, and as easy to ride as most 11′ boards. The NUGG comes with a Tri fin set-up (2 + 1)  to adjust to paddling and surfing conditions. Riviera traction is pre-installed.


    Length: 9’2″
    Width: 31″
    Thickness: 4 3/4″

    Fin System

    Quad +1 Diamond Tail

About The Author

Casey Gotcher

10 Responses and Counting...

  • Stoke Harvester 05.19.2011

    Great review! We are using the 10’6″ for rentals this season. 🙂

  • Great review Casey, I’ve been wanting to get an entry-board and noticed many of the other reviews were more mid-range or enthusiast oriented.

    Very helpful, thanks again!

  • Found a new Yolo 11 foot custom board on craigslist they said it was 1600.. would this be a good ride for my athletic whitewater wife, at 150 lbs , we also have to small kids and I would like to use it as well, if ican get him below 1000 bucks comes with paddle. Live accross the street from a huge lake and 1 hour from river surf spots 5 hours to the ocean. thanks

  • Just bought the 11’6″. Everything the article says is right on. Except the price…I got the board and carbon danny ching paddle for 799 plus 99 shipping, no tax! Great deal. Look on the internet and you can get that deal. Paddle surf warehouse was where I got it.

  • Sweet deal! Keep me posted on how it works out for you.

  • Riviera does NOT stand behind there product. My fin box broke without being dropping or misused.

  • That is good info to know Robb. Have you spoken with Brandon Rambo at Riviera Headquarters yet? Would be curious to hear his response.

  • Do you know anything about the coastal nomad paddle board vs the riviera. Local shop selling. Good price. Just can’t find much info on the brand

  • It’s so hard to find how much they weigh. Can you help? I most specifically want to know about the Yoga Pad model

  • I couldn’t find anything. I have seen that board in person. I am going to guess its somewhere between 25-28lbs, although I didn’t pick it up to know for sure. You can always call or email Riviera directly for an exact weight.

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required