If you’ve ever sat on a beach watching stand-up paddle boarders glide past you and thought it looked fun, you would be right. If you’ve watched people run into the ocean with their boards and gracefully jump to their feet before serenely paddling away and thought it looked easy, you would be less right.
Three years ago, we did a group paddle boarding lesson on Maui. With the exception of learning some basic paddle boarding skills and having a chaperone on the water, the lesson was otherwise pointless. Perhaps because of years of yoga and acrobatics practice, I took to SUPing easily. As such, I was ignored by the instructor who focused his efforts on people who couldn’t do headstands on their paddle boards. For Laura, who like many people, found standing up to be challenging, the lesson provided little support or guidance.
Laura never did stand up on her board that day. Nor did she stand up the next day when we went together for extra practice. A lot of people would have written off stand-up paddle boarding at this point. Though she was frustrated and exhausted, not to mention pessimistic about ever being able to paddle standing up, Laura was determined to stand on that board (perhaps, more honestly, I was determined to get her standing up).
To help Laura reach her goal, we booked a private SUP lesson in Makena with Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding (a sister company of Hawaiian Paddle Sports). Our guide Curtis was amazing and provided Laura with helpful tips to get her standing. He was encouraging without any pressure or expectations. For my part, he gave me some tips on more advanced skills which helped me paddle more efficiently.
Laura didn’t get up this day either. However, she found the lesson so encouraging that, despite being anxious about going out in the first place, she left actually wanting to try paddle boarding again.
The next morning, very early while the waters were still calm, we headed out again on our own. Motivated by the previous day’s lesson, Laura hit the waters with confidence (and maybe a little trepidation:). As the sun made its appearance over Haleakala, Laura stood up on her board and paddled for the first time! She did fall, because it does take the body time to develop the necessary muscles to balance, but she continued to get up and paddle more. It is not an understatement to say that this achievement was the highlight of her two weeks on Maui.
More About Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding (MSUP)
As well as providing a stand-up paddle boarding lesson, MSUP also includes a tour of the coast while SUPing. We wanted to focus more on creating space for Laura to practice standing, so we didn’t go too far, but the tour and lesson are individualised based on each person’s skill and ability. Our guide led us out to a nearby reef where we were able to throw on some snorkelling gear and get in the water. We swam next to a turtle, colourful fish, and other sea creatures. On the return journey, our guide took us to a tiny little bay where four turtles were sunning themselves on the rocks. Beyond the lesson and tour, Curtis had some great local tips and suggestions for us that were specific to our interests.
MSUP is an eco-conscious company that understands the environment needs to be respected in order for us to continue enjoying it. They do a mini beach clean-up before each lesson, as well as provide water in re-useable stainless-steel containers. They educate their customers on the importance of treating our oceans well and have reef-safe sunscreen for sale. In addition, MSUP also participates in a monthly activity supporting a non-profit organisation. The month we went out, they were joining the Paddle for Hunger fundraiser for which they helped raise over $8000 for the Maui Food Bank in 2016.
This lesson and all photos were provided by Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
If you’re interested in surfing lessons on Maui, we did that too and you can read about it in our Learning to Surf on Maui article:)
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