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Standup Paddle Boarding—The World’s Fastest Growing Watersport

Outdoor Recreation

Standup Paddle Boarding—The World’s Fastest Growing Watersport

Standup paddle boarding (SUP) can offer a fun and relaxing activity that people of all ages, body types and skill levels can enjoy.  It is one of the best complete body workouts there is and a whole new way to experience nearly every body of water in the world.  You can do it in oceans, lakes, and rivers, and there is room for a small dog or child on the board with you if you like.

Paddle boarding was first brought to the United States by Maui surf legend, Laird Hamilton on September 11, 2004 when he paddled out at Malibu on a stand-up paddle board holding an American flag.  In the early 90’s, he was looking for a way to cross train for big waves , so he grabbed his longest surf board and a canoe paddle and discovered, while paddling upright, that it was a great full-body workout.

Although, many mistakenly believe that Laird Hamilton discovered paddle boarding, there is evidence that the sport of paddle boarding dates back over thousands of years ago to ancient Hawaiian, Peruvian, and African culture.  Some variation of paddle boarding was used by all three cultures, but the Hawaiians are given the credit for actually surfing the waves with a paddle which they called “Hoe He’e Nalu”.

Standup paddle boarding is a low impact exercise that is a combination of balance, strength, and endurance which are used whether you are paddling or just balancing on your board.  It is an excellent core workout, and also works out the toes, legs, back, shoulders, arms and neck which all work together while paddle boarding.  While enjoying the sport of paddle boarding, you can burn between 623-1,125 calories an hour depending on whether you are paddling leisurely, touring, racing or doing a power SUP Yoga sequence.

Paddle boarding is a great way to explore the area, relax, and enjoy the beautiful scenic views on the Grand Strand.  With only a little instruction, most beginners are able to stand up and start paddling shortly after taking a SUP out for the very first time.  There are many places that offer tours, one-on-one classes and lessons.  Below are listed a few of the most popular and the some of the services that they offer:

J & L Kayak Ecoventures is all about the adventure. The rental company offers lessons and tours, depending on what journey you’d like to take. The Waite Island adventure is all flat water making it easier if you are a beginner. While out on the island guests are encouraged to explore to find shells, fish, crabs and other creatures. If you are interested in a more scenic trip, then you’ll want to check out the Plantation Point tour. The tour offers beautiful and amazing views that you won’t forget.  Rentals start at $40 per person.  For more information on J & L Kayak call, 910-880-5588

Kokopelli Surf Camp offers awesome group paddle boarding tours for just $50.  Sign up for a two-hour Salt Marsh Tour where you’ll journey to the beautiful salt marsh groves around Waites Island.  You can also try surf paddle boarding where you’ll learn how to handle the ocean.  Both tours are offered daily and include equipment, lessons, and photography.  Private tours are available upon request.

Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions is a company where you can rent paddle boards and go out on your own.  It offers free delivery and pickup year-round in North Myrtle Beach.  Rentals start at $30 for two boards, and booking rental times are based on weather and tide conditions.  Great Escapes also offers two and four-hour paddle board tours where you will have the opportunity to see seabirds, Loggerhead Sea Turtles and bottlenose dolphins along the way.

Surf City was the first shop to bring stand up paddle boarding to the Grand Strand.  They started building and selling paddle boards in 2007.  They offer boards for purchase that are shaped for a variety of uses.  They offer guided tours on the Intracoastal Waterway and in the ocean.

Jack’s Surf Lessons & Board Rentals offers SUP yoga in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina where you will experience the sights and sounds of the marsh while practicing gentle yoga postures on a deluxe paddle board.  No prior experience with yoga or paddle boarding is necessary.  You will be shown everything you need to do.  Visit their website for details and class times.

Carolina Waterman offers a two-hour Public Waters Education Program on the Scenic Waccamaw River.  Their paddleboard lessons are approximately two hours long. Here is a rough itinerary: 15 minutes – Paddle Prep. (Safety, Laws/Regs, SUP Intro), 90 minutes – Paddling the Wildlife Refuge (Wildlife Education, Waccamaw River Education, SUP Technique), 15 minutes – SUP Debriefing.  Visit their website for details and class times.

Island Inspired Board Company offers two-hour paddleboard tours for $30 per person on the Blue Trail of the Waccamaw river. They also offer SUP yogi lessons.  Visit their website for details and class times.

According to Todd Sultz, owner of Island Inspired Board Company, the reason for the rapid growth and popularity of stand-up paddle boarding is that it is a relatively small learning curve.  According to Todd, “You don’t need to be an extreme athlete to paddleboard. The first time you go out, you have a blast, and the learning curve is less intense than surfing. You can get on the water any time—you don’t need to wait for waves. It’s always available.”

It’s easy to see how paddle boarding can appeal to so many people. It’s as relaxed or extreme as you want it to be. And with the ability to paddleboard from a standing, kneeling or sitting position by adjusting the length of your paddle, it’s an extremely inclusive sport.  “Compared to canoeing and kayaking, it’s a more intimate way to connect with the river, the closest you’ll come to walking on water.” Says Chris Heafner, a local educator and outdoors lover who favors the paddleboard over the kayak.

The next time you visit the Grand Strand, why not try the sport of paddle boarding?  It could become your favorite watersport.  All you have to do is go online, check out the above sites and decide who you want to take a lesson from, rent a board, and you are all set.  Have fun!

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