The first time I went surfing I was in high school, and I was hooked. Eighteen years and a dozen lessons later, no one would ever call me good at surfing, but I still love it. I like being out on the water, the feeling of catching a wave, the victory of not wiping out. Unfortunately, I wipe out a LOT, because I rarely have the time to surf and it definitely requires lots of practice. But I miss being out on the water, so I wanted to find something easier I could do that could give me a similar experience. I knew that Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) would fit the bill, but it took me years to finally try it.

For my birthday (you know, back in June) my friend Meghan gave me a gift certificate/groupon thingie for a SUP lesson for two. We finally used it last Thursday. Luckily, California is pretty hot through early fall (it was still 100 degrees last week!). I arrived at the surf shop first, so I signed us in and shimmied into a wet suit.

wet suits are such a good look for me.
Such a good look for me.

After Meghan arrived and suited up, our instructor took us down to the beach. He quickly went over the basics, and then it was time to get in the water. The hardest thing for me to adjust to was how big the board was. The SUP board was about three feet longer than any surfboard I’d ever used, and it felt unwieldy at first. But after about five minutes, my body adjusted and I began to really enjoy it.

It was so awesome to be far from the shoreline, away from the pounding waves. We saw sea lions and different kinds of birds, and Meghan and our instructor both saw dolphins swimming behind me. It was so peaceful, the only constant sounds were paddles hitting the water. It was a beautiful Santa Barbara day with little wind, which meant we could see deep into the ocean below us. While our instructor spouted off sea facts to excited marine-geek Meghan, I looked down at the kelp and fish below my feet.

I loved it. I can’t wait to do it again. I felt alive out there, breathing the salty air.

It really wasn’t that hard – yes, I have surfing experience, but Meghan doesn’t and she never fell off her board. I only lost my balance once, when the tail of my board caught in some sea weed, but I just dropped to my knees. I wasn’t sore at all the next day, and I have always ALWAYS been sore the day after surfing. So if you live near a body of water that offers SUP I highly recommend trying it.

And yeah, I know it’s winter for some of you, so obviously you all should just come visit Southern California, where the weather is always perfect.