6 compelling arguments to explore stand up paddle

stand up paddle tavira algarve
Stand up paddling in Tavira, Eastern Algarve.

To be honest, I had a false start when trying to stand up paddle.

A friend very kindly took me out for a paddle in the ocean. However it was a pretty chilly and choppy day and I wasn’t that keen to fall in without a wet-suit. A few months later I drifted down the glassy Ria Formosa, with a wintry sunset exploding under the clouds behind me. Fish darted through the crystal clear water below and I was hooked.

So here is a little tip – start your first stand up paddle (SUP) experience with as little wind as possible and you’ll love it. Here are five reasons to get excited about SUP.

1. Get fit!

If you’re looking for a new way to get fit, you’ve found it! Have a look at any of the people involved in Stand Up Paddle and there’s one common thing you’ll find. They’re all pretty fit!

Stand Up Paddling is a fantastic workout as it excercises all your major muscle groups:

  • arms,
  • shoulders,
  • your core
  • and your legs.

Basically, if you SUP regularly you’ll get fit and the great thing about it, is its a low impact sport. All ages enjoy SUP, from kids right through to the older crowd. No jarring on your bones like running, no full impact like rugby. You can push yourself as fast as you want, or you can drift with the elements, the choice is yours.

2. Soak away the stress.

We all need to get away from the daily grind and SUP is the perfect vehicle to transport your mind into a state of calm. The excercise combined with being fully immersed in a foreign environment can focus you into a near meditative state. The result of an hour’s paddle can be truly and powerfully calming.

3. A new perspective on travel

Apart from seeing your home town through a fresh, new lens, you’ll have a new-found ability to explore rivers, lakes and oceans. Soon you’ll find yourself travelling to stretches of water further afield and who knows, you could end up in the Algarve paddling into exotic coastal caves or stroking down the Spanish/Portuguese border under a zipline.

4. You can compete

People are making a career out of stand up paddling. You can race and get sponsorship like surfing (or football but that’s on another level already!). There is even a Stand Up Paddle World Tour called the “Waterman League”. You could also become a certified SUP instructor or open up a SUP school like we have. Alternatively you could belong to a SUP Club and have fun with new friends on a weekly basis.

5. SUP is a highly versatile sport

Stand Up Paddle has evolved since it regained popularity in the late 90’s. Nowadays there are different disciplines with boards evolving to match each and every one. Check out this variety of activities:

  • Touring. Strap your camping gear on board and paddle off for a night outdoors or simply explore your local dam at sunrise. The possibilities are endless but the nature of the game is to explore.
  • Surfing. Nothing can quite beat the thrill of gliding down the face of a wave, bottom turning and powering off the top. Stand Up Paddle boards are longer than surfboards and have a powerful paddle – these two factors make it ten times easier to catch a wave than a surfer. Use this super-power with respect and share the waves.
  • Racing. If you’re competitive or need a mission to train for, get involved in your local SUP races. You may not believe this but there is already a SUP World Tour. It’s not quite up to the standards of the surfing one yet but it’s rapidly getting there. SUP Racer is a great blog to get initiated.
  • Downwinding. This is can be one of the most extreme aspects of the sport. On a windy day, paddle out into a heaving ocean and paddle with the wind, surfing “bumps” as you go. It’s tough, but seriously rewarding.
  • Yoga. People practice yoga on stand up paddle boards which adds a brand new liquid dimension to the practice.
  • SUP Fitness. There are fitness programmes out there that use paddle boards. Paddle FIT is one.

6. Check out the wildlife

Floating on remote expanses of water may look pretty boring but you’ll be amazed at the life forms you’ll encounter. As you probably know there are some crazy videos on YouTube and some SUP videos are right up there with the craziest. There is even a SUPing pig in Hawaii.

However, you’ll be able to view tons of birds, fish and other interesting creatures. Get a camera and document them all!

Do you need any more reasons to jump on a stand up paddle board?

Stand up paddle warm up exercises

SUP warm up

It’s vitally important to warm up properly before any exercise session, and even though stand up paddling is a low impact sport, there is still the possibility of straining relatively unused muscles.

Robin Williams (no name jokes now!) from the UK takes us through a great set of exercises to prime your body for the often peaceful act of paddle boarding. I’m not sure about you, but I wish I was prepping for another SUP session right now!

The basic SUP warm up

  1. Light jog increasing into a vigorous knee and arm pump.
  2. Heel flicks
  3. Body weight squat
  4. Alternate left and right front lunges
  5. Joint mobilization
    1. Rotation of both arms
    2. Twist the trunk
    3. Rotation of the feet
  6. Dynamic stretches
    1. Leg swings
    2. Stretching the calves

SUP warm up video

After that I would move into some intense shoulder and tricep exercises with the paddle. Any doubts? Join me down in Faro, Algarve for a paddle session.

Huge thanks to Robin Williams for sharing.

Faro stand up paddle board lessons

Quick info

Where? Doca Faro, 8000-541 FARO. See map below.
When? 09h00, 11h15 and 18h30 every day. Please book here before arrival
How much? €40 per person
Tours run by: Algarve SUP (Gravity Rhythms Lda.) CP91A Corotelo, São Bras de Alportel, 8150-029
Make a reservation Call Mauro on +351 968 736 604 or book online.

Book now

Welcome to the Algarve!

Faro airport is your most popular entrance gate to the Algarve. However, instead of pausing and taking in this jewel of a city, most push on to their holiday destination along the coast. We urge you to stay a while and enjoy the Algarve’s capital… from the water.

Stand up paddle board tours

Run by our WSA certified instructors we offer two hour tours throughout the year. Stand up paddle boarding is fairly easy to master and especially so in Faro’s glassy, calm and protected marina.

After a few minutes of expert instruction, you’ll be chomping at the bit to get out into the rich water life of the Ria Formosa. This 60km long natural park and wetland stretches from Faro eastwards (almost to Spain).

The Ria Formosa

Check out this video we filmed in the Algarve’s 60km long Natural Park: Ria Formosa

Algarve SUP’s location

We are based on the southern side of the Faro Marina and operate from the Clube Naval de Faro. Here is a map of Algarve SUP’s base to make it easier for you, however please make sure your make a booking before arriving.

Enjoy something different and get out on the water, to see life in Faro from a different angle. You can book online, send a message through our contact form or call Mauro on +351 968 736 604

Book now

The Guadiana Challenge – preliminary infomation

guadiana challenge
The Guadiana Challenge

Algarve SUP is organizing a (hopefully yearly) paddle down the Guadiana River from Mertola to Alcoutim. The initial trip is planned for March 28, 2015 when the days are starting to lengthen. If you’re a Facebook fan please join the event (if not let Nick know you’re coming).

In order to confirm you’re coming, we need you to pay a fully refundable €20 fee. It will be refunded at the start in cash at 08h30. Please pay with Paypal or a credit card.

Pay here

What you need to know

  • Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
  • Start time: 08:30
  • Length: 32km
  • Duration: Anywhere from 3 to 9 hours depending on how fast you want to paddle.
  • Wind Conditions: Wind is always a factor when stand up paddling and should we meet an oncoming wind it will naturally be a lot tougher.
  • Tide: It’s tough to tell exactly what the tide will be doing that day as the paddle is so far away from the ocean, however there is a large tidal influence all the way to Mertola.
  • Location: We meet at Alcoutim and transfer to Mertola by vehicle. We paddle back to our cars. A map of the route is provided below.
  • Way-points: We have detailed six easily recognizable way-points, so you’ll know how far to go without having to worry about GPS’s and maps.

It’s three months away so still on the to do list is the following:

  • organize the transport (from Alcoutim to Mertola),
  • accommodation/camping options for people who are travelling from far and or who would like to stay the weekend,
  • a dinner on the Saturday night in Alcoutim

So stay in touch with the Algarve SUP blog. Oh and you can read about our initial River Guadiana trip if you haven’t already.

Learning to stand up paddle – great video

Meet Lunden. I guess she’s from Germany or Austria or the USA? Anyway she’s superfit, lovely and is Runtastic’s Fitness Coach & Healthy Living Motivator. That’s quite a tag line but this video is pertinent as I often use Runtastic to track my paddle boarding sessions (until the time I took my iPhone for a swim… but thats another story altogether).

If you’re contemplating getting on a paddle board for the first time, then this video is a perfect intro. We’re about to kickstart a series of “Learning to SUP” holidays, so if you’re keen on perfecting your SUP technique or learning stand up paddle from scratch, then stay tuned to our blog (or give Nick a call!). News on those holidays is coming soon.

Over to you, Lunden!