As everybody knows, Hawaii is a surfer’s Mecca. But Kauai’s surf is seasonal, and as winter approaches, the waves begin migrating up to the north shore, where they’ll remain for many months to come, leaving the south side’s waters glassy and calm. This is the optimal time to explore the picturesque beauty of Kukui‘ula Bay and Spouting Horn while enjoying a taste of local-style adventure with SUP, short for Stand Up Paddling. For several years now, this exciting, relatively young sport has been building steam and collecting converts, largely buoyed by the popularity of its charismatic spokesman, big wave surfer and athlete extraordinaire, Laird Hamilton. SUP is a bit of an amalgam involving a larger, more stable version of a standard surfboard and an elongated cousin of the outrigger canoe paddle. Standing firmly on the board, paddlers propel themselves wherever they want to go, no waves necessary. SUP not only appeals to off-season surfers, but has also given thousands of people their first taste of board sports. While surfing, skateboarding, kite boarding, snowboarding and windsurfing are reserved for the adventurous, and contain a high degree of risk, SUP is a relatively easygoing activity with a very low risk factor when the water is calm, and Kukui‘ula Bay is a great spot for beginners to learn. The worst thing that might happen is an unexpected dip in the sea, which can be refreshing on a hot day. The learning curve is usually fairly gentle, and once you’ve the gotten the hang of it, you’re likely to remain dry. It is not uncommon to see Kauai locals with their dogs along for the ride, and some people even do yoga poses on their boards. Thrill seekers can still crank it up by paddling into waves when they’re available. Paddleboards can be unwieldy, and riders need strength and finesse to maneuver both the board and the paddle in the surf.
Unlike surfing, SUP is not confined to the sea. Kauai has many beautiful rivers to experience, and a paddleboard makes a great vehicle of exploration. You can pilot your board anywhere you’d take a kayak, and it’s not only easier to transport, but also affords an amazing overhead view of the water below. Out on a calm sea you can watch fish and turtles swimming beneath you as you quietly paddle along. While paddleboarding isn’t particularly difficult, there is definitely some work involved, making SUP a fun, low-impact, outdoor exercise option. The paddling action, as you switch from left to right to maintain a steady course, is a great workout for the core, and the subtle muscular adjustments used to maintain balance gently and consistently work the legs. All in all, it’s a wonderful, relaxing way to stay in shape, get around, enjoy the outdoors and get out on the water.
It seems safe to say that SUP is here to stay. As the sport’s momentum continues to build, it is slowly making its way around the globe. People everywhere are enjoying the fun and the benefits of Stand Up Paddling on rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans. Kauai offers SUP rentals, lessons, tours and competitions, including a 17-mile race along the breathtaking Napali Coast. SUP is a great adventure, and a fun, easy way for the whole family to sample a taste of Kauai culture. Enhance your stay in Kauai at one of Kukui’ula’s first-class Hawaii luxury homes and enjoy SUP along with many other activities with your family.