Stand Up Paddle surfing (SUP) is considered an ancient form of surfing, traced to early days in Polynesia. More recently, in the 1940s, surf instructors on Waikiki beach in Hawaii are said to have used the skill to allow them a better view of their students. Today, families can indulge in the sport at many resorts and recreation areas. Here are five to consider:
1. Bend, OR. This ancient sport has found newfound popularity in Oregon. Beginners and experts can be spotted paddling their way on the Deschutes River through the center of this central Oregon town, sometimes accompanied by others aboard rafts or inner tubes. A variety of local outfitters provide lessons, gear and encouragement for interested paddlers of all ages. Sign up for instruction or a tour. Later, with experience and skill under your belt, head out for your own independent adventure. Contact: 877-245-8484; www.VisitBend.com
2. Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Resort. Amelia Island, FL. Learn to paddleboard on the Atlantic while staying at this luxury, family-friendly 446-room resort located on a 13-mile stretch of pristine coastline. Take lessons from the local pros or head out on your own. Add other water sports to the mix by trying jet skiing, boogie boarding, kayaking and surfing. Children five through 12 can look forward to the Ritz Kids program that offers adventures designed to introduce young people to the natural wonders of the island. (Who would want to miss Turtle Tuesday?) Hopefully, the kids won’t be too tired to appreciate story time, snacks and a tuck-in offered by a friendly Pirate. Contact: 1 (904) 277-1100; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/AmeliaIsland/Default.htm
3. Outfitters Kauai. Poipu Beach, Kauai, HI Get sized up by the local pros and then head out with your fit-to-please gear for a beautiful day on this lush Hawaiian island. You and your family members will perfect your paddling skills on a creek that meanders through the Hule’ia National Wildlife Refuge. Hop off the board for a hike to a waterfall, where an overwater zip-line and a cannonball competition awaits. A relaxing motorized canoe will transport your crew back to homebase. A minimum age of 12 Is recommended. Contact: 888-742-9887; www.OutfittersKauai.com.
4. Slickrock Adventures. Belize. Check out this fast-growing sport, in a Caribbean paradise where newbies can practice in sheltered lagoons and the more experienced can try their skills on surf breaks. Challenge yourself via long paddles to nearby cayes or use the board as transport to top notch snorkeling spots. You’ll also enjoy kayaking, fishing, diving, kite surfing and beach time when you book a family-friendly adventure package on Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef. Contact: 800-390-5715; www.slickrock.com
5. Sana Cruz, CA. Paddle among sea otters and playful seals when you take to the calm waters of the Santa Cruz Harbor. Local pros will help you attain the proper stance and paddling technique before touring the Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing. This special outing enables paddlers to explore the second largest remaining salt marsh in California and one of the most significant biodiversity hot spots on the world. Expect to see Peregrine Falcons, Brown Pelicans, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets while moving through the tidal channels. Contact: 831-600-7230;http://covewatersup.com