What is South Florida famous for? A lot of things, but if you ask most people, it's sun, sand, and lovely beaches. While some use South Florida's fantastic weather and water to tan and swim, others prefer something a bit more athletic: stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). As its name suggests, stand-up paddleboarding is where you stand at full height on a paddleboard. What's the point of this type of paddleboarding? First, it's fun. Second, it gives you a great view of what's in the water beneath you and your surroundings. Third, it's peaceful and lets you connect with nature. Last, but not least, SUP is a great full-body workout. How can you get started with stand-up paddleboarding? We'll help you answer that question in this SUP beginner's guide that covers the necessary gear and types of locations where you can get your feet wet with this up-and-coming hobby.
Equipment You'll Need to SUP
What's the number one thing you need to become a stand-up paddleboarder? Besides the desire to do so, it's the stand-up paddleboard itself. Since you're most likely a newbie, you'll want to rent a paddleboard from a shop or borrow one from a friend for right now. Once you get the hang of it and decide you like the sport, then you can take the financial leap to buy one for yourself. As an FYI, not all paddleboards are created equal. They vary in terms of size and skill, and some are tailor-made for different types of SUP, such as yoga, touring, racing, surfing, and recreational paddling. Although they may be somewhat similar, stand-up paddleboarding and surfing are not the same things. With surfing, you can use your arms to move around when you're not upright. With SUP, you'll need a paddle to get from point A to B. Your height will determine how long your paddle must be to be effective. A leash is another part of your paddleboard that should be present. It'll keep the paddleboard nearby should you fall off, and yes, you will fall off, especially if you're starting. Beyond the paddleboard and paddle, you'll also need a personal flotation device (PFD) if you plan to enjoy SUP with your kids. The Coast Guard classifies stand-up paddleboards as vessels, so PFDs are a must when venturing outside of swimming or surfing areas. Considering the flexibility and fun to be had with SUP, you'll likely do such venturing. In keeping with the whole safety theme, don't forget to pack a safety whistle. The Coast Guard requires it, and it'll come in handy when warning other boaters and people nearby. You should also pack a light if you plan on doing SUP after sunset.
What to Wear When Stand-Up Paddleboarding
When doing SUP in South Florida, a swimsuit is perfectly suitable as your wardrobe, as are board shorts. A wet or dry suit will also suffice. To protect yourself from the sun, you may want to wear something with long sleeves, plus sunglasses. Don't forget the sunscreen. The sun gets even stronger when you're on the water (because the water reflects it too)!
Places Where You Can Go to SUP
No matter how ambitious or confident you may be, remember that you're just a SUP beginner. Keeping this in mind, it's essential to pick the perfect place for your first stand-up paddleboard outing. You want your launch to be simple, and there's no simpler spot than a sandy beach. The beach will allow you to wade into the water and get your SUP going. Do you want a beach with big waves? Of course not. Instead of starting in the ocean, you can pick a nearby pond or lake that's small, calm, and free of tons of people and other obstacles like buoys or boats. Check the weather before heading out. SUP is a lot easier on days that are sunny without a ton of wind. Be sure to bring a friend along so you can help one another. If they're an experienced stand-up paddleboarder, that's even better. As for how much time to carve out in your busy schedule for this outing, an hour is sufficient.
Now that you know how to get started with stand-up paddleboarding, your next move is rather apparent: get moving! Of course, you probably need to know exactly where to go to begin your SUP and the actual techniques involved so you don’t spend most of your time falling into the water, but don't worry; we have you covered. Check out our guide on where to stand-up paddleboard in South Florida, and you'll have more than enough locations to get your practice in. Follow that up with our guide on SUP moves, techniques, and tips, and you'll become an expert stand-up paddleboarder in no time!