Young, Old, Men and Women Enjoy Stand Up Paddling

The sport of stand up paddle boarding involves using an oversized surfboard and a canoe-like paddle to propel yourself over the water while standing atop the board.

Stand up paddle boards ready for adventure. Photo by Sean Ahearn

The wide, long and thick stand up paddleboards provide excellent stability so even beginners can be successful on their very first try.

A few years ago the number of stand up paddlers in Hawaiian waters were very few. Today it is the fastest growing water sport in the world, and Hawaii is leading what many refer to as a stand up revolution!

Stand up paddling for beginners is best accomplished on very calm water, and it also helps if there isn’t too much wind. The best place to learn is on a calm and protected ocean bay or in a placid river, which makes Hanalei one of the best stand up paddling locations because it has both.

Beginners can launch their boards by Hanalei Pier and if the ocean water is too rough then they can paddle around in the large, calm area of the Hanalei river mouth.

Once you learn some basic skills including the proper stance as well as how to paddle and turn the board, then you may choose to venture up the Hanalei River to practice your skills. As you make your way toward the Hanalei Bridge you will enjoy the peaceful surroundings including lush and tropical greenery with scenic mountains and waterfalls in the distance.

The Allure of Stand Up Paddle Boarding

What is so attractive about stand up paddle boarding? One appeal of this new sport for many surfers is the ability to be standing and using a paddle rather than laying on your belly and using your arms to paddle, as on a surfboard.

Stand up paddle boarding utilizes different muscle groups than surfing so it provides good cross training. Stand up paddling also allows a better view of the surroundings including a better ability to see down into the water from above which provides great views of the coral reef.

Experienced surfers have remarked that they love to go back to the breaks where they used to surf and rediscover these places in a new way with stand up paddling. For those who are unfamiliar with ocean sports, stand up paddling is a great way to get out on the water and explore Hawaii’s beauty while also getting some exercise and having some fun.

In calm water on the proper board, stand up paddling is incredibly easy to do which has broadened its appeal to young children as well as senior citizens. Groups of women that used to meet at the gym for aerobics now meet on the water and paddle together as a daily ritual.

The buoyant stand up boards are also very easy to control, and if the water gets a bit rough or the wind picks up you can kneel or even sit on the board and continue to paddle.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Lessons Ensure Safety and Fun

To ensure your safety and an enjoyable stand up paddling adventure it is highly recommended that you take a lesson with an experienced instructor.

On Kauai various companies offer stand up paddle boarding lessons from Hanalei on the north shore to Kalapaki on the east shore and numerous other sites. Stand up paddling tours on the Huleia River and National Wildlife Refuge take you near the famed Menehune Fishpond and stop in the jungle-like terrain to visit a secluded pool.

Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Once you have mastered the basic skills of paddling your stand up board on calm water (which doesn’t take long with the right conditions and the right board), then you may want to try riding some small waves.

Stand up paddle surfing has become a whole new field of competition among the world’s best watermen and waterwomen with more contests being held each year. Unlike just a few years ago when Hawaii’s surfing breaks were comprised almost completely of surfers, today it is rare to find a surfing spot that isn’t also well-populated with stand up paddlers.

One thing is for sure, stand up paddle boarding is here to stay. Many people are enjoying the health benefits as well as the fun and excitement of stand up paddling, and few places are as ideal for learning the new sport as Kauai!

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  • Lennie Delevik


    Yeah, now it’s clear !… And firstly I did not understand very much where there was the link with the title itself !!….

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