Stand-up paddling (or SUP for short), a sport with roots in the Hawaiian Islands, has grown popular worldwide over the past few years. It's available for all skill levels and ages, and even novice stand-up paddleboarders can get up, stay up, and have a great time paddling around a protected bay or exploring the gorgeous coastline. All you need is a large body of water, a board, and a paddle. The workout will test your core strength as well as your balance but truly offers a unique vantage point from which to enjoy the beauty of the island and the ocean.
Anaehoomalu Beach. This is a well-protected bay, so even when surf is rough on the rest of the island, it's fairly calm here. Boards are available for rent at the north end and the safe area for stand-up paddling is marked off by buoys. Off Waikoloa Beach Dr., south of Waikoloa Beach Marriott, HI, 96738.
Kailua Bay and Kamakahonu Beach. The small, sandy beach that fronts the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is protected by the harbor; the water here is especially calm and teeming with ocean life. If you're more daring, you can easily paddle out of the bay and along the coast for some great scenic views. Alii Dr., next to Kailua Pier, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
Kealakekua Bay. The most protected deepwater bay in the islands, conditions at Kealakekua Bay are typically calm. You might see spinner dolphins (in the morning) or even the occasional whale in season. There aren't any shacks for rentals right at the bay, so you'll have to load up your board and transport it there yourself. Bottom of Napoopoo Rd., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96750.
Hilo Bay. Hilo Bay is a favorite stand-up paddling spot for locals. The best place to put in is at Reeds Bay Beach Park. Most afternoons you can share the bay with local paddling clubs. Stay inside the breakwater unless the ocean is calm (or you're feeling unusually adventurous). Conditions range from extremely calm to quite choppy. Banyan Way and Banyan Dr., 1 mi from downtown Hilo, HI, 96720.
Equipment and Lessons
Kona Boys. If you rent from the main location above Kealakekua Bay, your rental comes with the necessary gear to transport your board to the water on your car; or visit the beach-shack location and carry your board straight from the shack to the water. Board rentals at this outfitter are $25 per hour or $65 per day. Kona Boys also offers group lessons for $75 per person, private lessons for $125 per person. 79-7539 Mamalahoa Hwy., Kealakekua, HI, 96750. PHONE: 808/328-1234 or 808/329-2345. www.konaboys.com. 75-5660 Palani Rd., Kailua-Kona, 96740.
Ocean Sports. At the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, this outfitter rents equipment, offers lessons, and has the perfect location for easy access to A-Bay. Stand-up paddleboard rentals are $30 per hour. Ocean Sports also has rental shacks at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and the Waikoloa Queen's Marketplace. Waikoloa Beach Marriott, 69-275 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, HI, 96738. PHONE: 808/886-6666. www.hawaiioceansports.com.
Sun and Sea Hawaii. There aren't a lot of options for board rentals in Hilo, however, Sun and Sea Hawaii does offer 11-foot inflatable stand-up paddleboard rentals at $45 for four hours or $65 for a full day. Hilo Bay front, 244 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, HI, 96720. PHONE: 808/934-0902.