Updated: May 29, 2015
Paddle Board Reviews:Stand up paddleboarding has become quite popular. I have been to Hawaii the last 2 years and each time I go I vow that I will try this new sport. You see the paddle boarders slowly making their way across the water - looks so relaxing. My wife was the first to get up on a paddle board this year and she loved it. We rented the boards while staying in Ko Olina resort area on Oahu. We had first seen them in Wailea (Maui) and talked with some of the people riding them to find out about the sport. The great thing that I saw were parents taking a child along for the ride. The stand up paddle boards (SUP boards) are very stable so you could have a child sitting on the board while you are paddling through the water. The real question is - Can you find the time and water to use one back at home? We live in Portland, Oregon so there are plenty of lakes and calm ocean areas near us. Here is my search for a paddle board for beginners.
Choosing a Paddle Board - I started with one of my neighbors who likes to surf and owns a few paddle boards. The first thing to understand is that these boards are not cheap - prices range from $500 to $2000. The paddle board you get will depend on things like your weight and overall experience. We found a great article online at REI.com with lots of good pointers on "how to" get involved in paddleboarding (read it HERE http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/paddleboarding.html). Essentially, the more experience you have (and lighter you are) means you can go with a narrower board. Paddle boards for beginners should be the most stable one you can find - that means wide and flat. Some come with paddles - we suggest an adjustable carbon fiber paddle. Experts say you should go with a paddle that is 6 to 10 inches taller than you are. With an adjustable paddle, you'll be able to find the right height. The boards are made with high density foam but the best quality boards will use EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam cores. A paddle board can weigh anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds. Keep in mind that you will have to transport the board from car to ocean or vice versa. Some boards have built in handles, although with many you could be looking at carrying the board on your head. Yes, this is the tricky part of owning a paddle board - getting it to your destination. It's nice when you do this activity with another person who has a board because then you can assist each other with getting the boards onto a car rack or out to the water. Top brands include Tower, Surftech, Naish, Greco Surf, ARK, Walden, Cruiser, Tahoe, and Laird. Your local surf shop should have a decent selection and you can find them online at Paddleboarddirect.com. REI.com has a good selection online with some owner comments and reviews. We found some basic paddle boards on Amazon.com - the consumer opinions and feedback posted online are very helpful in making a decision. You can browse the best selling stand up paddle boards here. When it comes to actually riding one of these, there are dozens of videos posted to YouTube that give you general pointers. We always say start in calm, flat waters so that you can build up your confidence and ability. The more stable you become, the more conditions you can take on. Whenever possible, rent a board for a few hours and get the feeling for the board and the exercise required before buying a paddle board.