If you are a first time paddler or still consider yourself a beginner then listen up! I typically warn first timers to refrain from going out and buying a board right off the bat. The reason being is most first timers have no earthly idea what they’re doing, where to go, how to paddle, etc., so my first piece of advice is TAKE A LESSON. Now there are multiple options for lessons, and with this being the fastest growing watersport in the world there are a LOT of “lessons” available… Do NOT be fooled by the lowest prices, usually the lowest prices are a result of the lowest quality. That doesn’t mean you should go out and find the highest priced lessons, what you should be most concerned about it vetting the individual or company that is offering the “lessons”. Click here for our post on Vetting a SUP Shop.
So the first thing you need to do is take a lesson, look for an instructor who: Paddles regularly, has experience teaching, paddles multiple different disciplines (SUP: Surf, Fishing, Racing, Touring, Etc.), is familiar with the local area and environment.
“I had a lady come to our shop for a lesson who had previously passed us over because another local shop was offering lessons cheaper. When I asked her why she ended up coming back to us she said the other company sent her out, unsupervised, on the inlet and she ended up landing on an oyster bed and getting 22 stitches in her foot. After several months of healing, both emotional and physical, she came out for round two… Only this time she was in good hands. She did wonderfully and didn’t fall a single time, even got to see some alligators!” – CW Instructor “Mowgli”
Your first experience should be on flat and calm water. You want to avoid wind, waves, boats, currents, etc.; you want balancing on the board and paddle technique to be your only hurdles for the day, and trust us that those two things are enough to focus on!
This is where we like to leave this post. Find a local shop that has a solid background and paddling experience, you don’t want beginner paddlers trying to teach you how to paddle or what to buy – That’s the blind leading the blind. Once you find a home shop then let them take it from there, that should be your paddling community headquarters. Do not look at your local shop like a one time “stop and shop”, they should be your paddling family and go-to source for all things SUP. SUPport your local shops!