Stand up Paddle (SUP) boarding is making waves in Costa Rica, where this burgeoning sport has proven an excellent way to explore scenic waterways while improving your balance. If youâ€™re new to SUP, donâ€™t fear. Paddle boarding is a fun and relaxing way to walk on water (so to speak), and can be as easy or challenging as youâ€™d like. Placid waters are a dream to meander and for those who yearn for more heart-thumping action, Mal Pais, Nosara and Pavones offer bigger waves for the advanced. Hopefully, your Costa Rica vacation will include some water sports, and if SUP is on your list â€“ follow these five handy tips for beginners!
Flat water is a SUP beginnerâ€™s best friend
Stand up paddle boarding is a bit like yoga in that it demands a certain degree of balance and flexibility. If this is your first time on a board, consider taking a SUP tour on Lake Arenal, where the waters are calm and the winds usually whip up baby waves that wonâ€™t throw your balance. Â Plus, youâ€™ll be paddling in full view of Arenal Volcano â€“ an extraordinary backdrop for any visitor!
Falling is normal (and fun)
Unless youâ€™re a pro, you can expect to take a tumble or two on your first paddling foray. Everyoneâ€™s learning curve is different, but it usually takes a few tries to get the hang of paddle boarding. A life jacket and ankle leash are important safety gear to use, no matter where your adventure takes you.
Go with experience
There are tons of trusted operators who offer SUP adventure tours in Costa Rica, complete with veteran tour guides who can show you the ropes. An experienced instructor will show you how to take a wide stance, keep your paddle in the correct position and maintain stability in choppy waters. If youâ€™re already an expert at SUP but want to travel light, you can rent gear in popular surf towns including Jaco and Tamarindo.
Keep your eyes on the horizon
In your quest for a Zen-like yoga pose on the SUP board, many paddlers say that looking at a fixed point in the distance really helps keep your balance.
Popular SUP destinations in Costa Rica
Learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding or test your mettle on Costa Ricaâ€™s epic waves in these hotspots:
Lake Arenal near La Fortuna
Playa Herradura, on the outskirts of Jaco
Playa Avellenas, near Tamarindo Beach
Pavones â€“ home to one of the worldâ€™s longest left breaks