Not only is Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) fun, it is a great workout for your entire body. This water activity has been around a long time, though it seems you are starting to see more SUP people then you used to.

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It seems that stand-up paddling in some form or another has been around for thousands of years. Ancient cultures from Africa to South America used boards, canoes, and other watercraft propelled with a long stick to fish, travel, make war, and even ride waves. Warriors in parts of Africa stood up in dugout canoes and used their spears as paddles to move silently into enemy territory. For nearly 3,000 years, Peruvian fisherman used a craft called a “Caballitos de Totora”, a small craft made of reeds that is so called because its instability made it like riding a horse. They used a long bamboo shaft somewhat like an elongated kayak paddle, and after a day’s fishing they would surf the waves in just for fun. In fact, it’s quite possible that this is the true roots of all surfing, let alone stand up surfing.

While stand up paddling may have developed in various places around the world, the modern surfing tradition has undeniable Polynesian ancestry. In 1778, Captain James Cook sailed into the Hawaiian Islands and became the first European to witness the Hawaiian people surfing. He’e nalu, as it is called in the native Hawaiian tongue, was done either in canoes or on special, ritually carved boards from the Koa tree. The village chief got the biggest board, sometimes as big as 5m long, while lesser village personages had smaller 2 or 3-meter boards. Because of the sheer size of the boards, a paddle was often used to power out and onto the waves. Modern stand up paddle surfing has its own Hawaiian roots as well. In the 1940s, surf instructors in Waikiki like Duke Kahanamoku and Leroy and Bobby AhChoy would take paddles and stand on their boards to get a better view of the surfers in the water and incoming swells, and from time to time they would surf the waves in themselves using the paddle to steer the board.

Standup Paddle Boarding

Source: Stand up paddle boarding is a fun activity you can do on oceans, lakes, rivers, and bays. It’s a great full body core workout and way to experience the beauty of the outdoors. Best of all, it’s perfect for people of all ages, body types and skill levels. There’s even enough room to paddle with a dog, friend, child or significant other. Over the years, paddle boarding has continued to grow in popularity because it gives you the freedom to explore the beautiful waters the surround our planet.

Types of SUPs

Stand up paddle boards come in all shapes and sizes. The most common type of paddle board is your traditional epoxy paddle board aka hard paddle board. An epoxy paddle board is fiberglass wrapped around an EPS foam core, with one or more fins to help the board track in the water.
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In 2014, a new paddle board construction was born – inflatable paddle boards. Today, inflatable paddle boards are super popular. Inflatable SUPs are great stand up paddle boards because they provide many benefits that epoxy paddle boards do not. However, both types of paddle boards are great options depending on your lifestyle and needs. Which one is right for you?

A stand-up paddle board is much thicker than your average surfboard. Paddle boards typically range from 8 to 12 feet in length, 28 to 32 inches wide, and 4 to 5 inches thick.

Beginner paddler boarders should choose a wider, longer and thicker board. This will offer the greatest stability to learn the paddle board basics on a flat body of water. As you gain experience, you can progress to a smaller paddle board. The most common SUP shape for beginners is an All-Around paddle board. However, there are a few different types and shapes of paddle boards to consider.

All Around SUPS

Perfect for SUP beginners, all around SUPs are the most common type of paddle board

These SUPs can be used in all conditions from ocean waves to gliding through calm lakes

The most versatile SUP which can be used for several SUP activities including: SUP yoga, SUP fishing, SUP touring and SUP surfing.

Inflatable SUPS

Easiest paddle board to store because they roll up to the size of a sleeping bag

Best paddle board for traveling because it can easily fit inside any car

Super durable. If you drop it, it will not be damaged

Great SUP for beginners

Fishing SUPs

Has a wider deck pad for more space on your SUP for your fishing gear

Some include Scott Mount attachments like fishing rod holders, bait trays, etc.

Fishing from a paddle board offers many benefits versus fishing from land, kayak and boat

Great SUP for beginners

Yoga SUPs

Has an expansive deck pad, giving you more room for your yoga flow

Inflatable SUPs are better for SUP yoga because you sit higher up on the water keeping you dry and more stable. Many yoga enthusiasts are beginning to practice on the water vs land

Can also be used as a beginner recreational paddle board.

Touring SUPs

Ideal SUP for long distance paddling adventures

Longer, less wide SUP with a pointed nose

Typically has a displacement hull for better tracking

Surf SUPs

Designed for surfing waves in the ocean

Maneuverable and responsive in the surf

Least stable on the water

Challenging for beginners, but practice makes perfect

Racing SUPs

Designed for race competitions

Longest type of SUP which generates speed and glide efficiency

Challenging for beginners

SUP Equipment

Stand up paddle board (SUP)

SUP paddle

Personal flotation device (PFD)

Pump (for inflatable SUP)

Fin(s) for SUP

SUP leash

Rescue whistle

Headlamp or flashlight (required if paddling after sundown)

Clothing and Footwear

Note: Dress for the water temp, not the air temp—a capsize (and hypothermia) can happen suddenly; avoid cotton, which will chill you; quick-drying clothing is a must.

For warm weather and warm water (>70°F), choose clothing that dries quickly:

Rashguard or other sun-protective shirt

Board shorts or swimsuit

Water shoes, neoprene booties or sandals

Sun-shielding hat

Hat retainer leash (optional)

For cold weather and/or cold water (<60°F), choose clothing that insulates:

Neoprene top and shorts, or


Paddling gloves

Wool/synthetic cap

Wool/synthetic socks

Recommended Personal Items

Sunscreen (water-resistant SPF 30+)

Lip balm (SPF 15+)

Sunglasses and retainer

Water bottle or hydration reservoir or waist pack (filled)

Snacks or lunch

Credit card; small amount of cash

Cellphone in protective bag/case

Small first-aid kit

Insect repellent (as needed)

Camera with waterproof case


Muscles you work when SUP

The main muscle groups that are being activated during a paddle are your mid back muscles (latissimus Dorsi), Shoulders (deltoids), Arms (triceps & biceps) and abs. Paddle Boarding is an all-body workout which has more than just the physical rewards, it can also restore your balance and calms your spirit.

Even though paddle boarding is a total-body workout, people of all ages and fitness levels can try the sport.

Before you grab your board and head to the water for the first time, here are some simple tips for planning your SUP outing:

Choose a small, calm body of water, like a lake or pond, that’s free of lots of obstacles like boats and buoys.

Look for a sandy beach or another place you can wade into the water to easily launch your SUP.

Choose a sunny day with little to no wind.

If your route requires that you paddle into the wind, do so on your way out so you can get a boost from the wind on the way back when you’re getting tired.

Go with a friend so you can keep an eye on each other.

Plan to paddle for about one hour on your first outing.

Coast Guard tips for SUP

Whether you are a seasoned paddleboarder or new to the activity, here are some other tips when it comes to using stand-up paddleboards.

Source: Coast Guard Compass

1. Wear a lifejacket and carry a whistle

2. Be a competent swimmer

3. Know how to self-rescue

4. Know how to tow another board

5. Know the local regulations and navigation rules

6. Understand the elements and hazards – winds, tidal ranges, current, terrain

7. Know when to wear a leash

8. Be defensive – don’t go where you aren’t supposed to be and avoid other swimmers, boaters, paddleboards

9. Use proper blade angle to be the most efficient paddle boarder

10. Take a safety course

Top places to go Paddle boarding

Lake Tahoe California

La Jolla Cove Marine Sanctuary

The Shores of Coronado Island, San Diego

Malibu California

Black Canyon Nevada

Hood River Oregon

Florida Keys

Seattle Washington

Clear Lake, Houston Texas

Galveston Island State Park, Houston Texas

Apostile Islands on Lake Superior

Manhattan, New York

Kauai, Hawaii

Ok, we think you get it! In every state, in every country, there are awesome places to SUP!

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