Imagine gliding gently across the water, passing peacefully through magnificent mangrove tunnels, revealing rarely seen shorelines and animals found only in the Bradenton Area. You’ve just pictured stand-up paddleboarding, locally referred to as “paddle boarding” or “SUP”. This popular activity combines fun and a little bit of skill, and provides an excellent opportunity to experience the destination from a different perspective — from atop the water.
To begin your SUP adventure, you’ll need a few pieces of equipment: a stable paddleboard, a properly-sized paddle, and a personal flotation device (or PFD, but locals typically call them a lifejacket). Since paddleboards don’t fit in overhead bins on airplanes, you’ll find many local companies that specialize in renting high-quality SUP equipment, such as Beach Bums, Surfer Bus, AMI Paddleboard Adventures, and others. Many of these local outfitters will actually deliver and pick up your equipment after your paddleboarding excursion.
Choosing the right location is important, as you’ll want to look for tranquil bodies of water, such as Palma Sola Bay, the water trails of Robinson Preserve, or the coves of Anna Maria Island.
Once you have your equipment and location, you’ll want to set out on the water with your paddle on top of your board. Standing in shallow water, somewhere around knee deep or more, you’ll want to mount your paddleboard. From standing next to your board, slide onto it in a prone position, then slowly transition to a kneeling position and establish your balance. Once you feel stable and secure, pick up your paddle and slowly stand with knees slightly bent. Your feet will naturally want to stand just outside our hips in “side stance” or “surf stance”. Each stance offers a difference in stability and control, so experiment to learn what suits you best. Take your paddle and dip it into the water as you draw it down the side of the board in alternating strokes. As you gain proficiency and confidence, you can try different techniques to move forward, backward, and to turn.
Where to Paddle
You’ll quickly find that paddleboarding offers an excellent opportunity to connect with nature while finding solace on the water, but also an enjoyable way to get a gentle workout.
Palma Sola Bay is a popular location for novice and advanced paddleboarders, and you’ll quickly understand why. Besides the peaceful location and proximity to Robinson Preserve, you’ll find the Surfer Bus parked next to the beach, with paddleboards, kayaks, and paddles on display for rent. This shallow bay is shielded from the wind, which makes it a wonderful spot to try SUP for the first time, or to gain confidence in your abilities. As your proficiency grows, you can venture off into the mangrove tunnels to the west, which connect you to the trails of Robinson Preserve.
If you’d prefer to begin your adventure in Robinson Preserve, check out Kayak Jacks, where you can rent a paddleboard and chart your own adventure. Better yet, you can partake in an expert-guided eco-tour of this fascinating, 682-acre park. With nearly three miles of aquatic trails that lead you though tidal marshes, small bays, and other coastal waterways, you’re sure to spot some magnificent scenery and wildlife. This preserve is well known for its many inhabitants, including osprey, rosette spoonbills, and even a bald eagle or two.
Try Something Different
Anna Maria Island offers many lagoons and coves that are ideal for paddleboarding. In addition to a typical paddleboarding excursion, you can enjoy a SUP yoga session with Salty Buddha. The light gulf breeze and ample sunshine offer the perfect opportunity to channel mother nature and harmonize with a little H20. These one-hour sessions typically include an introduction to paddleboarding, a short paddle across the clear waters of Anna Maria Island, and a guided yoga. Immerse yourself in nature, then connect your mind and body as you flow through yoga poses from atop your paddleboard. With beginner and advanced classes, this is truly a unique experience for everyone, and especially yoga enthusiasts.
Whether you’re new to stand-up paddleboarding or you have enjoyed the activity for many years, you’ll find that the Bradenton Area provides is the perfect location to enjoy this water activity.