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How To Stand Up Paddle Board

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Whether you want to learn how to stand up paddle board while on vacation or at home for the health benefits and to strengthen your core, here’s what you need to know to have a successful paddle board session.

A week before our free vacation in Hawaii Jason from Jason’s Travels, a travel blogger I met at TBEX ’12, tweeted about stand up paddle boarding in Oahu.

A few days before we left, there was a Living Social Deal for a half-price 2-hour paddle board lesson in Honolulu.  Needless to say, I got the hint and decided to give paddle boarding a try during our vacation.

How to Stand Up Paddle Board – Do’s And Don’ts For The Beginner

Since we were staying in the North Shore, the Living Social Deal in Honolulu was not going to happen as there was no way I was going to drive into congested Honolulu to paddle board.  Instead, we planned to paddle board in Lanikai, away from the crowd and congestion of Waikiki.

Hawaii Beach Time, the company we used to rent snorkel gear (read my post about why you should rent snorkel gear in Oahu vs bringing it), also rented SUPs (stand up paddle boards).  And even better, they had a Lanikai Beach Value Package which we modified to include a SUP instead of the double kayak.

1.  Grab Your SUP by the Handle

How to stand up paddle board carrying a paddle board

Grab your SUP by the handle. It’s much easier to carry. Plus you can walk into the ocean with confidence. Even if the wind is howling and blowing the paddle board away from your body at a 45-degree angle.

If your paddle board doesn’t have a handle in the middle (bummer for you, you either chose the wrong board or wrong rental company…) carry it on your head – longboard style.

Pro-tip: Don’t drag your paddleboard by the fin, nose, or leash into the water.

2.  Sit On Knees or With Legs Crossed

How to stand up paddle board kneeling while paddling out

Sit on your knees, with your legs crossed criss-cross apple sauce Indian style, or kneel while paddling out.

A SUP is a lot wider than a longboard and with your legs dangling off the sides it will take you longer to paddle out.

How to stand up paddle board don't straddle the board

Do make sure the tag on your bikini bottoms is not sticking up.  Dork alert!

Pro-tip: Don’t straddle the board like a surfboard.

3. Getting up on the Board

how to stand up paddle board getting up on the board

It can be tricky getting up on the board. Here are a few tips to make your first paddleboarding experience easier.

From a kneeling position:

  • Lay the oar lengthwise on the board so that it’s between your legs
  • Place your hands shoulder width apart in front of you and push yourself up to a standing position, as you’re rising, grab the oar with one hand
  • Add a little forward hop while pushing yourself up

From a seated position:

  • Lay the oar lengthwise on the board so that it’s between your legs
  • Place your hands next to your legs and push up, grab the oar with one hand while rising

From a supine position aka if you were on your belly (if you rode the board out like a surfboard):

  • Lay the oar lengthwise on the board so that it’s between your legs
  • Place your hands shoulder width apart in front of you
  • Push up with your hands and lift chest off the paddle board
  • Get into a downward dog position (head down, belly down but off the board, butt in the air)
  • Frog hop your legs to your hands shoulder-width apart and quickly push up, grabbing the oar with one hand while rising

Riding it out like a surfboard worked best for me. I was always able to quickly get up on the board. Granted I used to surf but that was so long ago my longboard is older than both my children’s ages combined.

4. Stand With Your Feet Shoulder Width Apart

how to stand up paddle board riding the paddle board

Riding a paddle board is easier when you stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping one foot on each side of the board.

How to stand up paddle board standing on the paddle board

You don’t want to stand on the paddleboard like a surfboard. The balance is wrong and you’ll end up in the water.  Trust me on this.

You can book a paddle board lesson in Oahu.

While you’re visiting Honolulu, be sure to hike Koko Head Crater and visit Pearl Harbor. Oahu may surprise you, here are 5 things you didn’t know about Oahu.

You might find that you’ll love to paddle board. You can buy this best-selling inflatable SUP paddle board. If you want to learn more about paddleboarding, this book is a great resource.

One of the best things about paddle boarding is that you can do it anywhere there’s a body of water. If you’re doing a multi-island tour of Hawaii, you can also paddleboard in Maui or Kaui.

Pro-tip: You can use miles and points to get a free trip to Hawaii like we did. You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Hawaii, use your points for hotels in Hawaii, and book a rental car with points.

Pin to your travel, vacation, or Hawaii board:

How to paddle board for beginners. What to do and what not to do.

Disclaimer: Hawaii Beach Time provided us with a Lanikai Beach Value Package in exchange for a review.  Since I was compensated with the use of free equipment, in the interest of full and complete disclosure, I’m disclosing.

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Stephanie Pass

Sunday 20th of November 2016

I am the klutzy person in the world. There is no way I could ever do this without killing myself, lol.

Rozilyn Cool

Saturday 19th of November 2016

Love the fact that there are instructions to stand up from several positions. I think even I could do this, and I have horrible balance.


Saturday 19th of November 2016

Thank you for the tips! I would love to do this one of these days. Bet my son and husband would love to do it too.


Friday 18th of November 2016

I don't know how to swim, so this would be a lost cause for me. However, it still looks fun, nonetheless!


Friday 18th of November 2016

This is a great guide. I still don't think I could ever do this though. I just don't have the balance!

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