Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) in Playa Del Carmen

Filed under: Things to Do - by Louise Hennessy

“Welcome to Stand Up Paddle,” was the greeting.

But surely, if it looks like a surfboard, and feels like a surfboard, and you stand on it like you would a surfboard…?

Well, it isn´t a surfboard, so there!

We shouldn´t scold as we were just as sceptical. From a rowing background, it seemed slightly weird and perhaps even a bit of a softcore activity from an onlooker’s perspective, as they never seemed to get their back into the whole rowing concept, like we had had to do in our heavy fibre-glass canoes. For this reason, it actually took us a good long while before giving Stand Up Paddle a whirl.


The lovely Fernando gave us a brief explanation and helped us heave the huge boards down to the water’s edge. It wasn’t rocket science really; put the Velcro band around your ankle to ensure you and the board remain as one, pick a paddle about your height, hold the paddle with one hand near the top and the other a bit further down, and spoon away. Oh, and not to mention the placement of the feet either side of the hole in the centre of the board.

It all seemed so straightforward.


Well, the whole balance thing, literally, threw us for a while. The position of the feet is seemingly clear, but there’s more to it. You really need to grip on as if you have the claws of an eagle, and make sure you’re not leaning too much on either leg; or, as we had the annoying habit of doing, paddling with such enthusiasm that we tipped ourselves off balance with our own gusto! And it was into the water for us!

The lovely thing was that even at 630 am, the water was so deliciously warm that falling off the Stand Up Paddle was nowhere near a punishment, it was a delight. In fact, we were glad of the refreshment factor and would thoroughly urge you to fall off as much as possible!

To be honest , it didn’t take us long to get the hang of it, and although the veterans sped off along  the surface as if they were on wheels, we managed to pick up a speed we felt happy with. It just gave us all that more time to admire the glistening early morning Caribbean splendour all around us, and sigh happily.


There is a decent amount of effort required, which we had definitely underestimated, particularly in order to become adept at switching the paddle from side to side; we were used to rowing at one side for a while and then swapping sides, but in Stand Up Paddle this is not an option. Your arms get a good workout without you even realising it…well, until the next day, that is. Speaking of the next day, we never imagined our legs would ache, but the birdlike grip to the board also has it consequences.

Our session of an hour and a half seemed to fly by, and was complemented by a stop where we attached our boards to a string of buoys and did a spot of snorkelling and Go-Pro sessions underwater. Back on the beach we hauled the boards up gently, and as tends to be the case with any kind of strenuous water activity, we found we were famished, pleasantly tired, and most of all thoroughly content. A perfect way to start the day, and make that breakfast all the more hearty…

Our tip: If you know how to swim, give Stand Up Paddle a try!

Don’t forget, our concierge can help you organize a Stand Up Paddle session or two! The turquoise water beckons…

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