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 Bay 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 Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is great for kids; the water here is especially calm and gentle. If you're more daring, you can easily paddle out of the bay and along the coast for some great exploring. Alii Dr., next to Kailua Pier, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
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'll 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 mile from downtown Hilo, Hilo, HI, 96720.
Equipment and Lessons
Ocean Sports. At the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, this outfitter rents equipment, offers lessons, and has the perfect location for easy access to the bay. Stand-up paddleboard rentals are $30 per hour. Ocean Sports also operates rental shacks at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Whale Center Kawaihae, 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. This full-serve ocean sports shop offers 11-foot inflatable stand-up paddleboard rentals at $45 for four hours or $65 for a full day. They also rent and sell snorkel, scuba, surfing, and kayaking equipment. Hilo Bay front, 244 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, HI, 96720. PHONE: 808/934-0902.