Most people search out Maui surf lessons when they want to try a new sport on their vacation, but there’s another water sport that’s gaining much popularity – stand up paddle boarding (or SUP). It’s actually one of the fastest growing sports in the world. This trend in Maui stand up paddle board has taken off because it’s a sport that’s easy to learn, offers a great full body workout, and can be done by people of all ages and skill levels. Stand up paddle board has been used by many athletes as a cross training exercise and really strengthens your core muscles. Maui SUP also gives you awesome views into the clear ocean waters as well as majestic views of the surrounding islands. On a calm day and with the right board, stand up paddling isn’t too difficult, but here are some tips to keep in mind as you embark on your initial Maui SUP lesson.
Choosing the right paddle board and gear.
Especially for a beginner, a longer, thicker, and wider paddleboard will be better. These will be more stable than smaller boards, thus allowing you to learn to SUP much easier. A common SUP mistake is to start out on a paddleboard that is too small, which makes it difficult to gain your balance.
When choosing your paddle as a beginner, you’ll want to get one that is longer (for flat water use). Generally, paddles should be about 8-10 inches taller than you for flat water cruising. Adjustable paddles can be ideal, especially when you’re just starting out, to get a better indication of which length is right for you. These paddleboard and paddle lengths will vary depending on your height and weight as well as experience. Different boards are used for different types of paddling including those for racing and surfing, so you may want a different size and type of board as you learn what type of paddling you enjoy most. You will also need a personal flotation device, a leash to attach from your board to your ankle, and possibly a rash guard for sun protection or a wet suit for colder weather.
Standing on your paddle board.
Find a protected area where the water is calm and take the board out to where the fin isn’t hitting anything, about knee high water. Just behind the center of the board, get into a kneeling position. Have the paddle laying across the width of your board in front of you. While gripping the rails or sides of the board, stand up slowly one foot at a time, staying in the middle of the board, with your feet parallel about shoulder width apart. You’ll want to keep your knees slight bent and your core centered on the board to help you balance. Your eyes should be looking forward and your head and shoulders upright. As soon as you stand up, put your paddle in the water and begin paddling to make the board more stable.
The basic strokes of Maui SUP.
When you’re paddling, you’ll have one hand on the top of the paddle to serve as a guide, and the other hand gripping the middle of the paddle shaft or about a shoulder width apart from your other hand. Extend the blade of the paddle beside your board as far forward as you comfortably can, usually about 4 feet in front of your feet. Submerge the blade fully in the water and move the blade straight back to your feet through the water. Do 3 or 4 strokes on one side and then switch your paddle to the opposite side, reversing your hand positions. As a beginner, start out with shorter strokes. Keep your back and arms straight, shoulders level, while slightly bending at the knees and elbow.
To turn your paddleboard using a sidestroke, just paddle on one side of the board until the nose turns, paddling on the left to turn right and vice versa. Also, to turn direction quickly, simply reverse the direction you stroke, paddling backwards. Stepping toward the tail with a low stance and shifting and twisting your torso to the direction you want to go will also help you turn more easily.
Falling off your paddle board.
When you feel like you’re going to fall, aim to the side and push away from the board as your fall to prevent falling on the board. If you lose your paddle and board, try to get to your board first and then your paddle. But always be cautious and on the lookout for anything around you as you’re paddling whether other paddlers, watercraft, or objects in the water.
These are just a few tips to get you on your way to Maui stand up paddling. SUP or as we say, “hoe he’e nalu” is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the ocean or actually any body of water from oceans to lakes to rivers. Hawaiian Style Surf offers regular Maui SUP lessons to all who want to experience this amazing and ever-popular water sport.