Are you a fan of water sports? Well, paddleboarding is something you’ve got to try! Beaches all over the world are experiencing the boom of this sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and due to its ease to, people of all athletic backgrounds. Originating from Hawaii paddleboarding is a branch from surfing. It has been recognized since 2013 as the sport to have the most first-time participants of any sport that year. Paddleboarding basically consists in a person propelling themselves across the water by using a swimming motion with their arms while lying down or kneeling on a paddleboard. There is a spinoff where the same principles are used but the person is standing and maintain this upright position while using a paddle to propel themselves through the water. Both of these styles have many modes such as flat water paddling for outdoor recreation, fitness or sightseeing, racing on lakes or large rivers and canals, surfing on ocean waves or paddling in river rapids. Paddleboarding and Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) are the next big thing and are an excellent way to stay fit or experience Florida in a brand new way.
What do you need?
You basically need the same equipment for SUP and paddleboarding, so here is a rundown of what you’ll need to get or rent if you want to try this new sport out.
Paddle board – Although they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common are made of epoxy and fiberglass and wrapped around an EPS foam core, with one or two fins to help balance on the water. These boards, especially a standup paddle board is a lot thicker than surfboards ranging from 28 to 32 inches wide, 8 to 12 feet in length and 4 to 5 inches thick. For beginners it's ideal to use a wider, longer and thicker one, since it’ll offer you more stability while you get the hang of the basics.
Paddle – for those of you interested in SUP than you’ll need a paddle. They come in plastic, aluminum, wood and carbon fiber with lots of different types of handles, blades and shaft shapes. Keep in mind that it should be about 6 to 10 inches taller than the paddler.
Leash – This will help keep the board attached to you when in the water. The leash should be around the same size or slightly smaller than the board.
Traction Pad – Most come with this feature pre-installed. It’s a layer of EVA foam grooved to improve gripping.
PFD – The Personal flotation device will come in handy depending on the type of paddleboarding you are interested in.
Where to paddleboard?
When in Florida you’ll have plenty of places to choose from. Since it’s easy to master and offers a full-body workout it has definitely become the craze all across Florida’s waterways. There are so many alternatives that the trouble will be choosing where to go. You can enjoy a leisure paddle across a mangrove or take part in an eco-tour or give some surfs a try. Just to begin here are a few places you can go to and enjoy this sport with your friends or family.
This is the ideal spot to go when you’re just starting off. Its peaceful waters, and nearby canals make an amazing place to get a peek at wildlife like stingrays, flounders and pelicans.
Coastal Dune Lakes
While paddling in the gulf you can appreciate and explore the lakes full of turtles, sharks, alligators and bass. Glide through the lakes and carry your board across 50 feet of sand to reach saltwater in an unforgettable experience.
This historic city can be appreciated from your paddleboard while gliding by the Castillo de San Marcos. This epic experience will definitely stand out from the rest.
Here, the dolphins that come visit these calm waters will be the main attraction. The still waters also make it an ideal place for beginners.
Blowing Rocks Preserve
It is quite windy, but well worth it for the inside peek at sea turtles and sharks swimming in a marvelous reef. If it’s too windy you can always just go across to the Intracoastal Waterway.
In Key West, you can get a completely new perspective from traditional kayaking. You can even rent a clear-bottom board to get a peek at the underwater life. It’s ideal for yoga since it’s protected from the wind and tides. After sunset you can also join a group that sets out 20 minutes after sunset to nightboard. The paddleboards are equipped with an LED lighting system attached to the boards from underneath. They illuminate the crystal clear water allowing you to see the nightlife come alive.
Miami Beach, on the other hand, can offer a more urban experience through Miami Beach and Miami mainland. You can also take advantage of a nocturnal tour that with its neon lights allow you to see 5 feet underwater and 15 feet around the board. You can paddleboard your way through South Beach, venture into Biscayne Bay and glide past the waterfront of the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
Finally, South Walton offers one of the best paddleboarding experience, giving so many alternatives that you’re sure to have an adventure. You can find events and activities all year round that involve the tons of variations and spin offs the paddleboarding sport has had over the years. It’s great for beginners to get comfortable, although you can also find places for the more adventurous or activities for the more experienced like races and yoga.