Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) is the fastest growing sport around the world right now for good reason. It’s easy, there’s a low learning curve, and most people can jump on a board their first time out with no previous experience or lessons. It’s also a great family sport because parents can take turns out on the water while the children play at the beach. Once you build up a bit of confidence, you can also start taking the kids out with you on your board. I was able to paddle with my son sitting on the front of my board within 15 minutes of trying SUP for the first time and we enjoy paddling together around shallow swimming areas. School-aged kids and teens will also be able to try paddling by themselves on a shorter board making SUP a great sport for the whole family to participate in together.
Before you visit your first lake or run to the closest beach, you’ll need to get yourself equipped with a board, paddle, and PFD. The basic rule of thumb for choosing a board as a novice paddler, is the bigger the better. The wider and longer your board, the more stable you will be and the more weight you will be able to safely place on your board. While a 10’ board may be big enough for a smaller adult, it might not have enough buoyancy for an additional family member riding with you or a larger spouse taking turns with the board. I recommend getting a board that’s at least 11 to 12’ in length and 31-33” in center width when you first get started.
Where to try SUP for the first time:
- Rent a board for a weekend from one of the outdoor stories in your city, and go camping at a nearby lake. Guaranteed you will be the most popular family on the beach as everybody wants to borrow the board and take the kids for tours around the swimming area. Even the kids will be begging to try their hand at paddling on the board and may surprise you at their balance and skill.
- Look for local outfitters that rent SUP packages on-site at nearby lakes or beaches. This is by far the easiest option as it eliminates the transportation factor for families with small cars.
- Contact your City’s Parks Department to find out which city lakes permit boating and stand up Paddleboarding.
- Look for outdoor stories offering lessons, group classes, and guided tours. This is a great way to meet new paddling partners as well as to get the inside scoop on where locals like to SUP.
- Wherever you choose to paddle, know that mornings are always the best time to paddle and that strong winds can pick up in the afternoon. It is recommended that you try SUP on a calm day when you are first trying to work on your balance and paddling technique. Many lakes also see motor boat traffic so it is advised to stick close to shore when learning or paddling with children on a lake.
Good luck and have fun on the water as a whole family trying a new sport that’s easy and fun!