Description: Paddleboarding can be done standing up, kneeling, or lying down. When standing or kneeling, paddles are used for propulsion; those lying down paddle with their arms.
Cost: Unless you own a paddleboard, paddles, and a life jacket, you’ll need to rent. Rental costs vary slightly from place to place. We rented boards, paddles, and life jackets from a place in Vancouver for $20 per hour.
Difficulty: With stand-up paddleboarding, the difficulty level varies based on a number of factors, including the paddleboarder’s sense of balance and leg and core strength, the weather, and the type of water (an ocean with waves will be more challenging than a still lake). When standing or kneeling on the paddleboard, upper body strength and endurance are also needed for continuous paddling, but because you can go slow or rest as needed, the fitness requirements are relatively low compared to many other activities. Wind and waves can create significant balance challenges, so beginners should go out on a clear, calm day.
Required Equipment: A large, light paddleboard (similar to a surfboard) and paddles; a life jacket is recommended if you’ll be going out onto deep waters.
- Paddleboarding is really fun, and it’s a great way to get fresh air and exercise on a beautiful sunny day.
- It’s a more peaceful and calming activity than many other athletic pursuits.
- Because there is the option to kneel or even lie down and rest, this activity can accommodate a wide range of fitness levels.
- Stand-up paddleboarding engages the full spectrum of muscles from shoulders to calves, and it’s particularly effective for strengthening the leg, core, and shoulder muscles.
- Because it’s slow and quiet compared to a motorboat, a paddleboard is less likely to scare away wildlife such as seals.
- Stand-up paddleboarding provides better views than sitting down in a boat, so it’s great for sightseeing.
- For those who windsurf or engage in other sports that can’t be done on calm days, paddleboarding provides an option to get out on the water when there is no breeze.
- Paddleboard rentals cost as much as kayak rentals, and they’re quite expensive to purchase as well, given the technology that goes into making them both light and stable.
- Paddleboarding is weather-dependent; unless you’re very skilled, you should only go out on calm waters.
- Paddleboarding works muscles in the core, legs, and shoulders that don’t typically get a hard workout from day-to-day activities, so those who are unfit may experience muscle soreness after paddleboarding.
- If you’ll be paddleboarding in an area where lots of boats tend to congregate, go out early in the morning to avoid the crowd.
- Rent or purchase the correct paddleboard for your weight.
- Wear shorts and a T-shirt or tank top (ideally, material that will dry quickly if you fall in the water) or a swimsuit in warm temperatures and a wetsuit in cold temperatures.
- Do some dynamic stretching before paddleboarding to warm up your muscles.
- Stand on the center of the board with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent for maximum stability.
- Place one hand on the top of the paddle grip and the other on the shaft (both hands shouldn’t be on the shaft).
- To travel in a straight line, paddle close to the board several times on one side, then switch and do the same on the other (assuming that you’re not being pushed by wind or tide, in which case you’ll need to keep paddling on the same side to counter the effect).
- Use your paddle blade as a prop against the board to stabilize yourself if you hit a wave and begin to fall (if falling is unavoidable, aim for the water rather than the board to reduce the risk of injury).
- If you end up in the water, grab your board first before trying to get the paddles. You can make it back to shore with just the board if you lose the paddles because you have the option of paddling with your arms, so the board is more important (many rental boards have stretchy leashes so that you can tether the board to your ankle).
For more paddleboarding tips, see the following websites:
- Danny Ching Offers Tips for Stand-up Paddleboarding
- REI’s Expert Advice for Paddleboarding
- BC Living’s Stand-up Paddleboarding Tips
For more activity descriptions, see the main Activities page.