Get On Board with Standup Paddleboarding!

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii.

Photo: Joyce Harkins

Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddleboarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. Variations include flat water paddling for outdoor recreation, fitness, or sightseeing, yoga and even fishing.

Standup paddleboarding (SUP), the act of propelling oneself on a floating platform with the help of a paddle or pole, traces back to thousands of years ago and across many continents, but its current form and popularity originated in Hawaii in the 1900s. Records of earlier forms of SUP have been found as early as 1,000 B.C. (i.e. 3,000 years ago) and its origins span over various regions such as Peru, Israel, Italy, China, and beyond.

“A View of Karakokooa, in Owyhee” by John Webber, sketched in the 1770s.

The contemporary form of the sport originated in the 16th century.

Hawaiian surfers used boards of up to 5 meters in length. These surfers used a paddle to operate boards that were otherwise unwieldy.

Today’s form of stand up paddleboarding, where a surfboard-like vessel is used, dates back to the 1900s. It emerged from a collection of activities by a few individuals, including Duke Kahanamoku and Dave Kalama. Once it reached California in the early 2000s, stand up paddling formed four epicenters. Each had its own fountainhead:

  • Rick Thomas (San Diego)
  • Ron House (Dana Point/San Clemente)
  • Laird Hamilton (Malibu)
  • Bob Pearson (Santa Cruz).

From there, the sport gained exponential popularity and California served as the catalyst for worldwide adoption.

By 2005, SUP, which had till then been almost entirely a surfing discipline.

It diversified into racing, touring, rivers, yoga, and fishing. Its surfing heritage coupled with its various disciplines made the sport a way for individuals to seek adventure, serenity, personal achievement and a deeper connection with nature.

Now that you know what SUP is, give it a try for yourself at the following watersports companies on Hilton Head Island: