If you’re thinking of grabbing a paddleboard and heading to the coast for a few nights away, I could not be more jealous of you right now. This blog will cover all you need to check before you leave and what essentials you absolutely cannot miss when packing.
First things first, do not leave checking the usual weather of your destination to the last minute. Sunny locations such as Florida are pretty much always reliable when planning a vacation; however, be prepared for the occasional summer storm. While it is named the sunshine state for good reason, it actually has more thunderstorm activity than any other part of the nation. Don’t let this put you off, though, as once these storms have passed, the rest of the day is always glorious and perfect for paddleboarding. Destinations such as the UK are much more of a constant grey drizzle, making it absolutely essential to check the weather before planning a trip to the coast.
Next, have a look to see if there are any paddleboarding groups that you can tag along to. These are full of friendly, outdoorsy people who generally always know the area well and are full of valuable tips to improve your paddleboarding. I usually look on local Facebook groups or inquire at a local surf shop if there are any heading out. If you are looking for the UK, the website ‘Go Paddling’ has a host of information regarding paddlers planning trips together. The bottom line is don’t be too shy to go along! I am yet to meet a fellow paddleboarder who is anything less than delightful, so you will undoubtedly make some great new friends. If you are heading out with a group of friends already, they are still good to go along.
Another essential thing to check is your ability and experience, and if it matches the destination in which you are going. Ask yourself if you are confident steering your board to avoid a potential hazard, accelerating at will, swimming back to your board quickly if you fall off, and climbing back onto it. If you are slightly unsure about any of these, a solo trip out in deeper water away from the shore might be something to consider once you have built up your ability a little more. Suppose you are heading to Florida, for example. In that case, St John’s ‘lazy’ river is perfect for beginner paddleboarders due to its very slow ebb and flow; however, out on the sea can be more of a challenge, and therefore when headed to the beaches, make sure that you are checking out the wind strength and wave size.
While paddleboarding is so great you could do it all day; your trip will also be a lot more fun if you stay somewhere with good places to eat, drink, and sightsee. I always recommend Trip Advisor for checking out the local areas. For example, anywhere near St Augustine’s is abundant in historic landmarks, fantastic eateries and bars, and countless different activities. If you are considering a SUP holiday to Florida, I would consider adding St Augustine to your list.
With sunny Florida in mind, I would start off the packing list with sun cream. No matter how tough you may think your skin is, sun cream is a non-negotiable necessity for any water sport. An SPF 50 is essential in my opinion, as anything less will simply not offer enough protection, even on an overcast day. Even if you aren’t too worried about burning a little, the aging effects of the sun are so fierce that no anti-aging cream will be able to combat them at a later date, so it’s best to invest in sunscreen now!
Following sun cream, my second highest recommended item to bring with you has to be a waterproof backpack. Personally, I love to play music while I’m out on a paddleboard, and knowing that your speaker is safe in a completely waterproof bag attached to your board is the best way to properly relax and enjoy it. This also means that you can take extra sun cream or layers with you without worrying about them getting wet.
While it goes without saying that you will need swimwear to take out paddleboarding, it is highly recommended to cover your skin from the sun’s harsh rays. A rash vest is a perfect in-between for warm summer days when it seems silly to pull a thick and heavy wetsuit on, but need something to cover your shoulders at least. They come in such a range of different colors and styles that you can still look great while out on your paddleboard but also manage to protect your skin from the sun, sand, saltwater, and everything else. My personal recommendation for a brand would be Quiksilver since they are generally reliable and high quality.
On the topic of looking great, I would really recommend investing in a waterproof camera. While a GoPro is a household name due to its reliability in delivering high-quality photos, you don’t need to spend too much on one. Akaso offer 4k video for a fraction of the price yet will still show great photos of your SUP in an unreal location. It makes it fun to bring out with you, and sharing the pictures you take on social media is a great way to connect with other paddleboarders. If you are lucky enough to ever head to Vilano beach at sunset, you can only imagine how cool a SUP photo of the sun going down can look. Getting a waterproof camera makes a waterproof backpack more necessary, just so that you have somewhere to store it when you aren’t using it safely.
So those are my top tips on planning a SUP trip. Basically, don’t underestimate the sun, waves, or wind, but have the most fantastic time.