I’m a chronic beginner. It’s not that I don’t want to commit to one activity, I want to try everything (except BASE jumping, sky diving, and SCUBA. I’ll pass).
Alex and I were kayaking quite a bit earlier this summer but the price for rentals was getting the point where we needed to either buy our own kayaks or get a membership someplace to help justify the money. Our good friend, Chelsea, invited us to the Newport Aquatic Center one weekend to hang out on the water. She was a member and knew we were looking for a place to join. We fell in love with the location, the facilities, and the price for a monthly family membership after only a few visits…including a particularly pricey visit when we ended up battling the current for about 2 hours. We learned our lesson with that one!
After a few trips with Chelsea, I decided to jump on a stand up paddleboard (SUP for short) to cruise around with her instead of tooling around in a kayak. I had a quick lesson once before and was able to get on the board pretty quickly. Honestly, I expected to fall in the water a few times, but I thankfully held my own!
I like paddle boarding because I can stand, kneel, sit, or lie down. While in a kayak, I can sit up straight and I can recline…but not much else. I do feel like I’m working a lot harder to move the paddle board when compared to a kayak, but I like that tired feeling I get when I re-rack my paddle board after an hour or two of paddling around the beautiful Newport Back Bay.
As always, I have a few tips from one beginner to another…
Tips for SUPing (from a beginner):
If you’re not comfortable sporting a bikini, don’t worry about it! You can wear a rash guard, cover up, or even your favorite board shorts and tank top combo. Like I mentioned on my kayaking essentials for beginners post, I’ll always be in love with Patagonia’s Wavefarer board shorts (I have 3 pairs). My next favorite bottoms to wear are the Suva Run Short IIs from Fabletics (I now have 3 pairs). They are lined running shorts with a thick waist band…I think they may be considered quarter splits, if you’re familiar with the cuts of running shorts. The blue and multicolored shorts in the photos above are the Suva Run Shorts in high intensity & blue lava, if you’re interested. I usually wear a tank top over a bikini top to stay comfortable and usually opt for my Cool Racerback (in black above) from Lululemon or my Aventura tank from Fabletics. As for shoes, I like wearing my Keen Clearwater CNX sandals, tried going out in the new UNEEK sandals (yes, seriously), and go barefoot. I’ve been going barefoot more often so I can try and have dry shoes when I walk around later, but I prefer wearing my CNX sandals for some reason.
Ask for a quick lesson
Anywhere you go should offer to give you a quick lesson if you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification on something. This would be a good time to ask about a good route for beginners so you have an idea of where to go and where to maybe avoid. I’m not a coach, but I get on my board in “table top position” like in yoga, plant my feet on the board right behind my wrists, drop by butt, and stand up as if I’m coming out of a deep squat. See what works for you and what makes you feel comfortable. Safety first!
Wear sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, and whatever other sun protection is part of your usual prep before going outdoors. Become familiar with the are and ask about the wind, tide, and dangers that may be lurking in the water. Follow protocol for personal floatation devices (PFD) for the location. Our center requires that the PFD be on board before you launch and has a life vest strapped to the front of each board before they are even rented out. Ask about the expectations and how to use the devices before heading out on your microadventure. As always, let somebody know where you are and when to expect you home.
Bring a friend and remember to have fun
Trying something new and trying to remember all the little tips and nuances of a new activity is overwhelming! Make things a little less stressful by grabbing a friend and heading out together. There may even be a discount available so you can split the costs! Alex and I usually go out with our friend Chelsea but have taken other friends out with us who are interested in seeing the area (it’s a protected wildlife area) and trying either kayaking or paddle boarding. Try to have some fun…because if you’re not having fun you should probably stop and find something else to do. Life’s too short to be miserable doing something you’re not into. It’s not for everybody!
What tips would you share with somebody trying paddle boarding for the first time?
Only the Fabletics links in this post are affiliate/referral links. New Fabletics VIP members can get a full look for about $25, which is a total steal. I receive Fabletics credit for memberships made through those links, no cash.