Featured across social media as the trending vacation recreation, stand up paddleboarding (S.U.P.) is surprisingly accessible. A trip to Bora Bora is not required for this meditative day trip. Sparkling clear waters and nature-filled coastlines are readily available in Tampa.
A range of environments for paddleboarders of varying skill levels and interests are relatively abundant. Unlike many areas of the state, Tampa hosts both inland and coastal paddleboarding hot spots. It is also home to the Florida Boarder Company, an especially helpful hand for novice boarders. Working from the Hillsborough River, the business holds skill classes, offers group tours, and keeps a reference list of areas that allow boarding.
Similar to a cross between surf boarding and kayaking, S.U.P. offers the best of both activities. It requires an obtainable skill set that utilizes more of the body than kayaking but less strength than surfing. However, be warned, seeing someone paddleboard makes it appear less challenging than it actually is. It is very beneficial for balance and endurance. Holding stance for a long period of time and constantly contracting at the core is draining.
Keeping the work in mind, do not let the learning process deter any interests of paddleboarding. Out on the open water or gliding down a shaded river, it is worth every ache. Paddleboarding allows a better view of scenery than sitting at the water’s height, especially when viewing wildlife. More than one style of board is available to cater to speeds and other activities. Long and skinny boards allow greater speeds whereas wide and thick boards help with stability. Keeping still offers an array of other activities, such as fishing, yoga and meditation. Being a single rider also means more independence than boating or canoeing.
For any activity, Tampa has a body water, although some areas may require more skill than others. Weeki Wachee Springs is a tranquil water, perfect for beginners and anyone looking to hone in on new skills. It is also ideal for an easy glide downstream. Lettuce Lake park is a natural floodplain with similar waters but does not provide rentals. It has less traffic for this reason and may be better for paddleboarders with personal equipment.
Boarders interested in a group tour or lessons may prefer the Tampa Bay Preserve. This option can be scheduled online and all equipment is included. It is a great option for a taste of paddleboarding before purchasing your own equipment, as well as a family or group outing.
Professional or more experienced paddleboarders are likely to prefer secluded areas to explore or to avoid working around beginners. Davis Island’s calm waters allow one of the best scenic views and a chance to see wildlife. Tours are also available but the large area allows boarders to keep their distance.
Whether it is to view nature or enjoy a relaxing day away from the standard beach crowd, paddleboarding offers something for all ages. Check local rivers, springs and beaches for allowance and equipment availability when planning a trip.