‘SUP’ or ‘stand up paddle’ is the latest craze to be taking the Costa del Sol by storm and on every stretch of beach from Málaga to Tarifa, we are seeing new surf schools and clubs shooting up with men and women paddling along the horizon on giant boards, all keen to try out this emerging global sport.
Stand up paddle originated in Hawaii as an offshoot of surfing. It began as a mode of transport enabling surfers to paddle further into the ocean than they would ordinarily be able to. With the aid of a paddle and a larger sized board surfers were amazed at how much faster and further out they could travel, and soon it became a sport in its own right; stand up surfing! SUP is pretty much the same sport as SUS, only without the waves.
Here on the Costa del Sol, it is growing rapidly in popularity, primarily because of its broad appeal to all ages and all abilities. Unlike kite surfing or wakeboarding, it’s not fast, it’s not dangerous and it requires very little kit. Then of course, there’s the difficulty factor; SUP is easy to learn and fairly uncomplicated. All you need is a board and a paddle and you’re off! Another aspect that is making this sport so fashionable is the pain/pleasure issue – unlike so many other sports that can be exhausting, painful and laborious, SUP is one of those activities (a little like yoga) that gives you maximum results without leaving you sweaty, out of breath and aching from head to toe. In fact, SUP is a sport that you are meant to truly enjoy.
Allergic to sport of any kind but always keen to try something new, I decided to take a class to find out what it’s all about. A quick browse around Google tells me that there are plenty of schools to choose from and they all offer very similar packages; from lessons by the hour, group classes and expeditions to simple board and paddle hire – the beaches of the Costa del Sol have every aspect of the sport covered. The Paddle Surf Marbella Club gives classes in front of the Hotel Iberostar Marbella Coral Beach, but also moves around the area in search of the best location depending on wind and waves. Stand Up Paddle Marbella is a completely mobile company that delivers boards, paddles and instructors to any beach in the Marbella vicinity. But it was the superb photos of AWA WaterSports in Nerja that finally caught my eye! This company offers a veritable adventure in SUP, less of a class and more of an exciting exploration. Meeting up at Burriana Beach to form a group, we are given our equipment and some brief information, hints and tips – I am amazed; it’s easy! We get to grips with our boards, shifting ourselves about and practicing our paddling, and then we’re away. The expedition takes approximately two and a half hours, which passes by in no time at all as we paddle along the turquoise waters of the coast, passing beautiful waterfalls, huge cliffs and spectacular rock caves. The atmosphere is fun and jovial as we chat and laugh, and our guide points out notable sights and offers us history and insight into this beautiful rocky coastline.
Most interesting of all – you don’t feel like you are ‘doing a sport’. It feels like a relaxed, enjoyable and pleasurable adventure. When the excursion comes to end, I feel exercised, a little bronzed and high on sunshine, sea air and laughter.