Stand Up Paddle Surfing, also called Stand Up Paddle Boarding, is all the rage in Hawaii just as it is globally. When you look out over the waters offshore, from early morning to late evening, you can see people paddling their boards while standing and taking it all in. Young and old, thin and not so thin, tall and short, people of all races and ethnicities love to stand up paddle.
There is nowhere quite like Hawaii to paddle surf, and this is where I taught myself to SUP. The crystalline waters are like glass. At many of the beaches the shore break happens way out, and closer to shore the waters are calm and shallow. Perfect for paddle surfing. If you have a calm water beach near you (or even a lake), you can enjoy this sport too.
Although there are paddle surf instructors, you can teach yourself to do it. You do need to be a good swimmer because you will be down in the water often. But once you get a board, a paddle and find a calm piece of ocean, you’ll be paddle surfing within an hour. You can also practice standing up on the board in a swimming pool before you actually try it at the beach.
- Try out the boards of friends who paddle surf before investing your money in buying one. Boards usually measure between 9-15 feet. Learning is easiest on a 12 foot board because it offers more stability, but you may not want to have a board that long when you decide to get your own.
- Try for a lightweight board; remember that you may have to carry your board between parking lots and the beach quite often.
- A wide board that is at least 26″ across will give you more room to shift your feet and weight while riding a wave.
- The paddle will help you to stabilize yourself in the water, so plan on looking for a paddle that is about a half foot taller than you are. There are all types of paddles, differing in handle types and shape of the paddle blade. Get one that you are comfortable with because this is how you are going to get around in the water.
- Beginning paddlers will often paddle their boards in shallow and calm water. This is a good way to practice your balance and get comfortable with your paddle.
- To get used to standing up on your board you can either stand on the sand at the beach and let the tide begin to pick up your board and carry you into the ocean, or you can sit or lie on your board on your stomach and go from that position to standing up on your board while in the water (this will take practice).
- Once you can go from sitting to standing on the board, practice paddling in shallow water and going into deeper water.
- Begin watching the wave sets and paddle out beyond the wave break. You can paddle out while standing or sitting on your board. Remember that the paddle is your equalizer; use it to balance yourself.
- When you’re ready to try riding a wave in, point your board toward the shore and begin paddling in. The wave will pick up your board and push it in on the wave top. Paddle as necessary, but most of all, enjoy the ride.
- As you near shore and the breaking surf, you will need to use the paddle more for balance.
Stand Up Paddle Surfing is great exercise. It’s also a fun family activity that will get all of you outdoors and enjoying nature at the same time.