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Stand Up Paddling

What is Stand Up Paddling (SUP)?

Since a few years stand up paddling or SUP is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It is a combination of kayaking and surfing. It is simply standing on a long and wide surfboard using a single sided paddle to play in all types of waters. It looks kind of easy when you see it, but it is actually pretty challenging and lots of fun!

Stand up paddling in Giethoorn (The Netherlands)

How old is Stand Up Paddling (SUP)?

The SUP sport was founded around 2005 on the Island of Hawaii. Surfers were looking for a higher vantage point for making photos or checking their students. This is the reason stand up paddling was first started. The big wave surfer Laird Hamilton is one of the key players in the current popularity of stand up paddling across the world. He used his paddle instead of a jet-ski to tow him in the big waves. Nowadays stand up paddling is done not only in waves, but even on flat water. In The Netherlands the popularity of group SUP tours to paddle the Dutch canals rapidly rises!

Stand up paddling in Gili Air, Lombok (Indonesia)
Stand up paddling in Gili Air, Lombok (Indonesia)

Popular SUP locations/ tours around the world

Stand up paddling can be done in all types of waters. It can be a lake, canal or even the sea. Before you go out on the water, always check the conditions like the weather forecast, currents, tides and the traffic on the water. If you are a beginner and want to find a good locations for stand up paddling, check out the blue spots on active travelmap!

Some locations in the world have become popular for their good stand up paddle conditions.

  • Giethoorn, The Netherlands is a popular destination for its group tours through the famous Dutch Venice canals. Interested? Check out this website
  • L.A., California, United States is famous for the celebrities who use their SUP daily to stay fit and healthy
  • Hong Kong, China, Stanley Bay, stand up paddling in Stanley Bay is a beautiful opportunity to see Hong Kong from a different point of view. 。
SUP in small canals (The Netherlands)


SUP gear

The gear you need for stand up paddling is really simple and straight forward. You only need these three items:

  • SUP Board
  • Paddle
  • Wetsuit

Styles of Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

The sport stand up paddling can be done in more than one style. The different SUP styles are:

Surfing – This is the style where it all started. This style is similar to wave surfing, but the difference is the method of paddling. In wave surfing your hands are used to paddle. In stand up paddling a plastic or wooden paddle is used to paddle out to the waves. The name speaks for itself, in stand up paddling you are standing in an upright vertical position while paddling. In wave surfing you will lay done on your board while paddling. The benefit of stand up paddling is that you do not have to stand up from a horizontal laying position. For beginners standing up is one of the toughest parts of wave surfing.

Famous SUP surfers are Robby Naish (also popular from windsurfing) and Laird Hamilton (popular from big wave surfing). They both use SUP as a work-out, but also to catch the Hawaiian waves.
The board used for this style has more rocker and is a little shorter than other SUP boards. This makes it easier to turn and catch waves.

Yoga SUP – Stand up paddling is a healthy exercise for the body and the mind. Gliding on water through an inspiring environment can be pretty relaxing. This is why Yoga SUP was founded. Yoga is an exercise to sharpen the mind while training your body. These exercises can be done on a SUP board, which can be pretty tough depending on the stability of the SUP board.

Touring – The most accessible style for the majority is the touring style. This means cruising around on all type of waters. This can be done on an old windsurf board or even on inflatable SUP boards. There are even combination windsurf-SUP boards available to combine stand up paddling with windsurfing on light wind days. The touring style is mostly done in groups trough inspiring environments. Some groups even bring camping or fishing gear to combine their SUP tour with fishing, eating or even sleeping in the nature.

Racing – The racing style is a competitive style wherein the fastest stand up paddler wins the race. Long and sharp boards are used to gain more speed. The boards are less stable than normal boards, because they are mainly produced to go as fast as possible. If you like competition, speed and stand up paddling, than this might be your style!

SUP Yoga
SUP Yoga

Gear up and find the best one from the checklist of the Stand Up Paddle locations. So, choose your type of style and relish a new paddling experience.