SPAIN // Stand-Up Paddlig

14.10.15

Stand Up Paddling at sea - Punta Prima beach

I can't remember where I first came across the concept of Stand Up Paddle-Boarding, but I know that I've been longing to give it a go for a very long time now. 

Thought to have originated in Hawaii (in its current form, at least), SUP is a surfing derivative in which the rider stands upright on the board, using a paddle to propel themselves through the water. Known as Stand Up Paddle-Boarding, Stand Up Paddle-Surfing, or simply Stand Up Paddling, the activity has been around in various forms for decades now, but it's only in the last ten years or so that it's come into mainstream popularity, growing at a particularly rapid rate since around 2010.

Reliant on the use of the paddle (and sometimes aided by a bit of tailwind) rather than the force of the waves, the activity can be done on a whole range of water surfaces: lochs and lakes; rivers and canals; ocean waves or gentle inlets along the coast.

It was in the warm July waters of the Mediterranean, on Spain's Costa Blanca, that I was finally able to give SUP a go..

Learning to Stand Up Paddle - Punta Prima

Whilst on holiday near Torrevieja, in the country's Alicante region, dad and I booked ourselves in for an introductory session with Sun Sea Adventures - a locally-based Stand Up Paddle club run by ASI-qualified instructors, Marc and Natalia.

The pair offer SUP activities for participants of all ages and abilities: first-time lessons, children's birthday parties, stag/hen dos, sunrise adventures, guided coastal tours, technique-improving courses, or equipment hire for those already well practised.

Falling firmly into the first-timer camp, we met Marc at Punta Prima beach late one morning, a little apprehensive and unsure of what to expect.

Learning SUP with Sun Sea Adventures Spain

We started out with a brief lesson on the shore covering standing positions and simple paddling techniques, before we waded into the water and set out into the sea.

"Into the sea" was a more-than-accurate description of how things began! There's a certain degree of skill involved in manoeuvring from a kneeling position on the board to an upright one, trying to stand, find your balance and begin paddling from this new height, all the while navigating the motions of the sea. It's safe to say that "grace" and "poise" are two words which could never be used to describe me. I looked a lot like Bambi on ice as I tried to fathom how to keep my balance and those first attempts resulted in a fair few tumbles into the sea!

Learning Stand Up Paddling with Sun Sea Adventures
Case in point. LOL. (Photos by Sun Sea Adventures)

Luckily Marc was an incredibly patient instructor, paddling alongside and guiding me through the process over and over again until it finally, eventually clicked. And once it clicked, it clicked!

From that point on we were off, able to paddle away quite happily, following Marc's lead as we headed further along the coast. Mum - our little photographer on the beach - was surprised by just how far we travelled, but it was such a leisurely experience that it really didn't feel that far to me.

Stand Up Paddling near Torrevieja - Costa Blanca
Photo by Sun Sea Adventures.
 It was a brilliant feeling to be afloat atop the water, stood tall on a simple board while we paddled alongside kayaks and speedboats and yachts. There's something incredibly relaxing about the repetitive motion of a slow and steady paddle stroke while taking in the coastal sights from such a unique point of view.

The Spanish coastline is really pretty too. Outlined by beaches and cliffs, it's dotted by gentle inlets and caves to be explored. We didn't have time for much exploration on this trip, but we got to appreciate the still, clear waters closer to the shore, so popular with snorklers for their perfect views of the landscape underneath, which we were able to take in from right up there on the board. Beautiful!

Stand Up Paddling on the Costa Blanca

The trip back felt much easier than the one out - perhaps because we spent far less time nosediving into the sea. That said, I perhaps got a little too confident on the board towards the end and took another tumble or two as our session drew to a close and we navigated our way back to mum on the beach. It was all good fun though.. and nobody really minds being in the water when it's as warm as the Mediterranean Sea!

Stand Up Paddling with Sun Sea Adventures Costa Blanca

I really loved my first Stand-Up Paddle experience and am keen to do it all over again. It seems like such a relaxing sport - though it gave my core and my thighs a jolly good workout! - and one which can be done at a pace that allows you to really slow down and connect with the here and now - focussing on this wave in this moment - while appreciating a unique perspective on the scenery.

I'm sold. I can definitely see why it's gained such popularity and I can't wait to have another go!


Big thanks to Sun Sea Adventures for their expert guidance. 
La Zenia, Paseo del Mar
03189 Alicante, Spain

xo

1 comment:

  1. Hello, it was lovely to meet you!

    Your days in Spain sound so lovely! I never had a chance to try Stand-Up Paddling. However I would love to.

    I’m so happy to connect with you! You can add me at: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/igaberry-13323143 & https://instagram.com/igaberry/ Thank you! Iga x

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