Stand up paddleboarding can be described in so many ways, perhaps the best is simply to say that it’s is the new thing. Everyone is trying it, all over the world. I might be biased, but I believe Costa Rica really has the best stand up paddleboarding in the world, first, because there are instructors who have been trained and practicing for years, before the craze hit, and secondly, because there is such a variety of bodies of water.

paddleboard1Stand up paddling is kind of a mix between surfing and kayaking. You have an angled paddle and a surfboard. Advanced practitioners of the sport take it to the next level by paddle surfing. There are plenty of areas for beginners, too. You might choose to start in a river, bay, lake, or mangrove before hitting the open ocean.

You can also choose to start by riding on your knees, for better balance. It’s not necessary to conquer balancing on your feet and paddling all at once, don’t worry. Plus, part of the fun is falling in the water.

The feeling of the cool ocean breeze on your face and the energized feeling you get from being on the water combine and you get almost a runners high. It’s an addictive feeling. Once you learn the basics, riding the (small) waves is thrilling.

To get a better sense of balance, you’ll want to kneel in the center of the board, with your paddle on the edge. After checking that neither end of the board is sticking up, stand up with just one foot at a time. You will want to replace your weight exactly as it was when you were on your knees, by placing your feet in the spot your knees were in. Your instructor will help you stabilize the board, on your first few attempts. Keep your toes facing forward, eyes on the horizon, and balance with your hips.

Maintaining balance is the only other challenge. Keep your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Point your toes forward and keep your back straight and knees bent. Don’t look at your feet. They never go missing. Instead, keep your glance on the horizon. Use your hips, not your head, to balance. Don’t fear speed, as more speed equals more stability. If you feel wobbly, paddle just a little harder. If you feel off balance, pick up the speed a bit. Think about it like riding a bike; you need speed in order to balance. The nice thing is that if you mess up, you go swimming. That’s all. No scrapes or bruises. No re-injuring weak joints. It’s not physically difficult or tough on the body. It’s more fun than exercise.

The best places to try stand up paddleboarding in Costa Rica include Room2board in Jaco, which is also a hostel, and Agua Vida in Pavones. Both Jaco and Pavones have warm water and consistent waves.


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