I have paddle boarded in lakes and oceans by the side of playful dolphins, a curious manatee, and a world of aquatic wonderment both seen and unseen.
Last summer, my daughter and I paddled near a school of feeding tarpon – to this day my daughter swears up and down they were sharks. They weren’t sharks, they were tarpon. Big tarpon, but tarpon!
If you ever get the opportunity to stand up paddle board, you absolutely should. A lot of people call is SUP boarding. Oh, who am I kidding, I just made that up because it reminds me of Crush, the turtle in Finding Nemo.
Honestly, I have heard a few people call it that, so that’s what I’ll call it in this blog.
Here are three reasons why SUP boarding is worth a try (See important safety information at the end of this article please*):
1- There are many ways to SUP board
Unlike canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, or other partaking in a sport on other water vessels, you can stand, sit or lie down on a SUP board.
Now you are probably thinking, but hey, wait a second, doesn’t the name of the board suggest that you have to stand up on the board. That’s part of the beauty of SUP boarding. You can rebel against the system and sit down. Dude, you can even lie down. Some boards have built-in chairs so you can fish off your SUP board.
The paddle is adjustable so you can shorten it for those times when you want to just be you and sit on your SUP board.
Stand up and paddle for a few miles if you prefer, and then lie down and take a nap.
It’s all good!
Don’t feel like sitting, lying, or standing? Then, dude, you can kneel in vajrasana. Speaking of vajrasana, you can even do yoga on your SUP board!
SUP boards maintain their balance so you can change your mind on what position you prefer. That creates a much more free feeling that you don’t get in, say, a kayak.
2- SUP boarding is virtually silent, leaving space for tranquility and peace.
There is no loud motor coughing up the air with a SUP board. The only sound is your paddle dipping quietly into the water.
Maybe there is an occasional curse word if you lose your balance while attempting a headstand on your board. Maybe.
Maybe there is an occasional, “Oh my GOD, MOM, THOSE ARE SHARKS,” coming from your paddle companion. Maybe.
For the most part, it’s just you and nature.
A few weeks back, I was out on the lake paddle boarding with my husband. A great blue heron flew by, and we were able to hear the woosh-woosh of his giant wings as he traveled over us. We breathed in the sound, feeling the energy of his flight.
3- When you are on your SUP board, you’re one with the water.
When you are standing, sitting, kneeling or lying down on your SUP board, there are only a few small inches between you and the water.
You might not be able to walk on water, but with a SUP board, you can stand on water.
When I had the lucky experience a few years ago of paddling beside five dolphins, I was so close to the water that I could feel their massive strength as they swam. Although I wasn’t swimming with them, I had the experience of being one with them.
Once, a manatee’s curiosity with me and my board allowed me to be one with his world. As I paddled, he’d peek his head out of the water and stare at me before submerging his head, body, then his giant tail.
I am pretty sure my daughter wished we were the height of an ocean liner when we encountered the tarpon on a feeding frenzy. Instead, we were inches from the water.
When you are on the water, there’s a whole world below you: a world of aquatic wonderment. Being so close to the water helps you feel connected to that amazing world.
The quiet of the SUP board helps increase your awareness in the present moment.
The ability to just be you on the board adds a sense of freedom to the overall experience.
Go on. Give it a try. Dude, SUP board!
* When possible, don’t SUP board alone. Always bring (or even better, wear) a life jacket. Always carry a bottle of water on your board. Wear sunscreen. Make sure you keep your cell phone and keys in a waterproof container that floats in case you fall while working on your hip hop moves (not that that has ever happened to me). Don’t mess with aquatic animals, just let them be.