With stand-up paddling, you don’t need to go very far for an adventure.
Every stand-up paddling story starts out differently. Mine began on a snorkeling excursion with my sister in the Caribbean Sea between the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. Towards the end of our excursion, our tour guides sailed us to Jost Van Dyke to have a cup (or four) of the infamous Caribbean cocktail invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar, The Painkiller.
It just happened to be on the same day of the Painkiller Cup. We were lounging on the beach, drinks in hand, when we witness the excitement unfold as racers crossed the finish line carrying what looked like enlarged surfboards. It was a big celebration of life, the outdoors, camaraderie and friendships; there was so much stoke in the air! The SUP love was so strong, we got contact high and became inspired to try out the sport.
That was three years ago, and since then, I have fallen in love with SUPing, paddling as much as my time permits on whatever body of flatwater I can access. I’ve even purchased my own paddleboard (POP Classico 10’6″ in pink), and plan to invest in another one by next summer (Pau Hana Oahu 10′–I’ve got my eye on you!) so that I can continue to explore the world on water.. with a friend!
But what is it about this sport that got (and keeps) me hooked? I’m sure every avid paddler has their own reasons, but these are my TOP 6:
It Strengthens the Body
Have you seen the bodies of professional SUP athletes? We featured two of these female forces on this website, Annabel Anderson and April Zilg, prime examples of what paddling can do to the female body, with hard work and consistency.
In short, SUPing is a full-body workout where you will be required to use (and therefore improve) your balance, coordination, strength, endurance, flexibility and core stability. Your every muscle is engaged when you’re paddling, with most of the work being done by your core. And a strong core equals a strong body. It’s also a great way to get your heart pumping!
It Expands the Mind
Each SUP session encourages you to step away from life’s distractions and find stillness within. No need to bring technology on board to keep entertained (unless it’s to capture the moment) because your environment and all that is happening in it will keep you engaged.
With your mind decluttered, you can observe, reflect and learn from and about yourself and everything that surrounds you. Time on a SUP is clarity. It may even help you find answers to your life’s most pressing questions.
It Awakens The Soul
As your body gets stronger and mind clearer at every stroke of the paddle, your spirit begins to heal and your soul awakens, whether for the first time ever and from a deep sleep. With an awakened soul, not only will your SUP adventures satisfy your physical and mental needs, you will be impacted emotionally by the beauty in the simplicity of it all. You can’t help but embrace each and every moment and feel grateful. And you carry on this gratitude long after you paddle.
It’s a Great Starting Point for Surfing
You may already know how to surf or not be interested in surfing at all, so this may not pertain to you, but stand-up paddling is a great starting point for surfing. If you have good balance, you will pick up SUPing quickly and start to do tricks as you become more comfortable on the board. This includes paddling out, popping up and catching and riding wakes (which act like small waves) that powerboats leave behind. I’m not saying you won’t need to take surfing lessons, but you will already have the basics down pat going into your first one.
The Love in the SUP Community is Strong
I can’t help but reiterate this common characteristic of every SUP-related event I’ve attended: THE SUP LOVE IS STRONG. It was what I saw when I was exposed to the sport on Jost Van Dyke two years ago, it is what I continue to see at SUPing events I attend.
SUPers are the most supportive group of people I’ve ever met. They are more than willing to share the #SUPLove, whether it be giving you tips to paddling techniques or referring you to scenic places to paddle, they want you to share with you the awesome and, at necessary times, life-changing experience paddling brings. People who share your love for SUPing becomes your friend for life!
It Fulfills Your Need For Adventure
While every SUP story starts out differently, everyone who tells it shares the same reason why they started: to seek adventure in life. Adventure is typically associated with traveling the world, but not everyone has the money nor time to do that.
With stand-up paddling, you don’t need to go very far for an adventure. You can haul your paddleboard to a nearby pond and create your own! Even if you only have access to one body of water, the constant change in life will make each and every SUP session a new one. You will never get bored on your paddleboard.
Photo: VJ Curtis