It would be hard to live in North Florida and not notice the growing number of people who seem to be walking on water along our waterways, holding only a paddle. This trend, referred to as SUP (short for stand up paddle boarding) is a multipurpose water sport that generally anyone can participate in. Although it is a west coast brainchild, over the past few years SUP has become a very popular alternative to kayaking and surfing along our eastern coast.

The sport has quickly picked up popularity across the country because of its ease and versatility. SUPing can be done in almost any type of body of water, from lakes, rivers and small canals to bays and oceans. In addition, SUPers can participate in an array of activities while paddle boarding, including surfing, yoga, racing, touring, and fishing.

Ease is probably the key factor in stand up paddle boarding’s wide age range of participants. After first time SUPers learn how to stand up and balance themselves on a paddleboard- a skill that can generally be mastered with an hour lesson or quickly through private practice. The sport is simple and it is also a great workout, even at its most basic level! Shape Fitness Magazine boasts that participants can burn 500-700 calories in a one-hour workout. SUP surfers and yoga SUPs look to burn even more than that!

It is also an inexpensive sport, all things considered. While more advanced paddleboards average around $900-1200, beginners can find some as low as $300 in the Jacksonville area.  After the purchase of the board and paddle, the sport has virtually no extra expenses! It is a one-time purchase that can last paddlers for years with little maintenance. Also, for people not looking to purchase a board right away, many businesses in the Jacksonville area allow customers to rent SUP boards at low costs. Jax Surf Training, for example, offers SUP rentals for as low as $30. They also offer one-on-one SUP training classes, group training classes, SUP eco tours, as well as weekly SUP classes and weekly Yoga SUP classes.

Another great thing about SUP is its ability to unite people who enjoy the sport together. For example, in Jacksonville, no paddler ever has to paddle alone! This website is a great way for SUPers to connect in the Jacksonville community to participate in the sport together. Here, anyone from beginning to experienced SUPers are invited to weekly and monthly SUP events, ranging from SUP yoga, to races, to fitness training and even SUP fishing.  Some events advertised are free, some have a small fee, and others offer food and drink specials at local restaurants.

Don’t expect to see this water sport going away any time soon—and rather than idly watching SUPers paddle on by, grab a board of your own and find out what all the hype is about, because something is definitely ‘sup’!