The simplicity of SUP is what makes it so appealing to many. Just a board, a paddle and you the paddler. But what are the other reasons for grabbing a paddle? Clare Baranowski from 'Travel with a Paddle' explains...
The advantages of stand-up paddling are physical, mental and spiritual. Whilst paddling, you increase the depth of your breath and flex the small muscles that remain inactive during day-to-day movement, building muscle mass and strength. Yet, it is the barefoot factor that brings a holistic sense of wellbeing to the experience. You awaken your feet as they connect with the board and are lapped by water; this sensation reminds us that our bodies are made for more than just work and that feet shouldn’t always be trapped in shoes. SUP travel also facilitates mindfulness as it allows us to spend time in a peaceful place, repeating the same paddling action, demanding the attention of your brain and body in the present moment. Paddling creates a state called the blue mind – a calming feeling obtained when on water – a time to pause and check in with yourself. A routine we should all perform more regularly.
Moving along the middle of a river, or travelling on the ocean looking at the coast gives you a new perspective of the world. Instead of viewing nature from afar, you too feel part of the scenarios that unfold around you. Taking a SUP board on a trip gives you the freedom to go where you please, when you please. It gives you access to waterways and caves too shallow or small for boats and it allows you to pull up to beaches only accessible by watercraft. I find it freeing to be separated from the unadventurous masses. When I arrive on a beach I know no one can access by foot, boat or plane, I feel like the king of the world. What a way to explore your own Kingdom.
For me achieving a multi-day, long distance paddle with my partner creates lifelong memories. Watching the sun rise together, the joint decisions and the inevitable arguments always bring us closer. My family and friends have begun stand-up paddling and to watch the pride on their faces as they successfully stand on the water is equal to the joy I feel watching them. It is the shared moments in life that bring us all together. Stand-up paddling is a sport for both elites and beginners as every person who takes a paddle in hand becomes part of something bigger. We are one big community that advocates adventure and encourages friends, families and strangers to connect with one another.
4. Wildlife encounters
Whilst stand-up paddling you can get close to wildlife in or on the water without disturbing them with the sound of an engine. You can be eye to eye with nesting birds in one moment and the next staring at the fin of a dolphin or fish as it passes under your board. Paddling allows you access to the animals that inhabit the shores, banks, shallows and depths of rivers and oceans. You are closer and also therefore more vulnerable to the power of nature, which makes a stand-up paddlers both observers of nature but also a part of the tapestry around them. Every paddler I know takes great care of the natural world and invests in a sustainable future.
5. Inspiring others
I can tell you from experience that when you offer a weekend SUP adventure story on a Monday morning you will suitably impress your colleagues into trying it themselves. Dragging a SUP onto a beach after a full day of paddling is already an incredible experience and if you add spectators to that mix who are watching and learning, it makes it even more gratifying. Every time you SUP and encounter another person you will inspire them to try it.
Just imagine if our world was full of people who looked after their wellbeing, respect nature, love their family, become less reliant on material goods and want to inspire the world around them. That’s the sort of world I want to live in.
Written by Clare Baranowski
About 'Travel with a Paddle'
Travel With A Paddle is a bespoke travel agency specialising in stand up paddle surfing holidays and flat water paddle adventures. Their main aim is to understand your needs and wildest dreams so they can personalise your next SUP holiday, taking the stress out of the travel process so you can rest easy knowing you’re in great hands.
Travel with a Paddle’s founder, Beau Nixon is available for private SUP coaching on your holiday. A highly trained competitor and professional in the stand up paddle and surfing world, Beau has competed on the Stand Up Paddle World Tour and won the Australian Men’s Longboard Championship and the Australian Men’s Stand Up Paddle Championship. Beau has been tailoring SUP holiday experiences for the past eight years and uses his first-hand knowledge of waves and waterways to tailor you the trip of a lifetime.