There is a new sport quickly gaining popularity in our area among people of all ages and all athletic abilities – it’s called stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP for short). If you haven’t done it, odds are good you’ve at least seen Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz doing it in Hawaii, but it’s not just for movie stars or Hawaii anymore. I decided to take a look at what makes it so popular in our area and to give it a try myself (to simply prove or disprove that uncoordinated, non-athletic types can do it too!).
First, stand-up paddleboarding can be done in any type of water – rivers, lakes, oceans, creeks and canals. The Southport – Oak Island area has these in abundance and they are surrounded by some pretty spectacular landscapes. Beginners can start out in a flat water canal, while more seasoned boarders can ride breaking ocean waves. You can explore the backwater creeks and estuaries along Bald Head Island or take a long distance paddle along the coast. It is really a sport that can take you somewhere different every time.
Another reason for the rise in popularity is because it can be both fun and relaxing or a full-body workout, depending on how you approach it. Some people even do yoga on their SUP. You use your arms to paddle, you core and legs to constantly balance and maneuver. Just like walking, you can either go on a stroll or you can run a marathon. For those just starting out, like me, simply trying to stand-up on the board provided quite the workout itself. It’s time to get in shape, I digress…
The sport is also appealing because it requires minimal equipment – all of which can be rented. All you need is the board, a paddle and a personal flotation device. There are several companies in Southport and Oak Island that not only rent stand-up paddleboards and paddles, but they will deliver them to where you are staying or where you are pushing off. They also provide lessons, tours and even organize SUP events. Once you’re ready to purchase your own equipment, there is a lot to consider in terms of size and type and any of our area guides can educated you what’s best for your style and experience level.
So, what did I think of my first experience on a SUP? I’m hooked! And my 65-year old mother is hooked and my 12-old niece is hooked. It truly is a sport for everyone. I found it challenging, yet relaxing. It gave me both a sense of having accomplished something (like burning calories and using muscles) and of having some hard to find “me” time to relax and enjoy the scenery. I definitely recommend you give it a try if you are even just a little curious. Check out our list of area businesses that provide SUP rentals, lessons and tours and get paddling!