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Hawaii was full of many firsts for me. First time skydiving, first time surfing, first time ATV riding, and so many more. While I loved all of those activities, there was one that stuck out to me as a true life-changer, a new passion that I’m confident will follow me around the globe — Stand Up Paddling, or SUP for short.
Hawaii is the birthplace of Stand Up Paddling, where lifeguards once used outrigger paddles on regular surfboards to patrol the seas from a better vantage point. But in the past ten years, the sport has begun to explode among water lovers, fitness enthusiasts and surfers alike. Today, there are international paddleboarding competitions, paddleboarding retreats, and entire business dedicated simply to promoting the sport of Stand Up Paddleboarding.
Cruising around the North Coast for the final time, and Meihoukai and I made a stop at Hanalei Bay — perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever laid eyes on. We intended on renting surfboards, but a Stand Up Paddle stand enticed us otherwise. Without any formal training, we rented two boards between the three of us (because, you know, general poorness) and giggling with nerves, paddled on our knees out to the Bay.
After a few entertaining false starts (see above), pretty soon we were standing like big girls! Moving from kneeling to standing was definitely the most balance-tricky part, but once that was through it was smooth sailing. I could immediately see why the sport was so popular — it was a great low-impact core workout, we were surrounded by stunning scenery, and with the crystal water below we were practically Stand Up Snorkeling — we even saw a turtle swim beneath our boards! I could picture myself moving to Kauai and starting every morning with a paddle across the bay.
Hanalei Bay is filled with water-sports enthusiasts of every variety — boaters, surfers, SUPers, kayakers, and more. At one point, Angie turned to me and said excitedly, “That’s !” At the time, I was not sufficiently impressed, considering I had no idea who Laird Hamilton was. But suffice it to say that once I got myself to a Wikipedia-enabled device, I was very humbled to have paddled in the same waters as one of the greatest surfers of all time — according to the internets.
Getting the hang of the logistics of paddling took up most of our rental hour, but we did have some extra time to do what we all just happen to do best: goofing around.
I couldn’t believe how quickly our time was up! Without question, this was the highlight of my trip to Kauai. My only regret is that it took me until my last day in Hawaii to try it. The sun on my back, the sea at my feet, getting a great workout and a tan at the same time — I think I found my sport.
Soon I’d be in Florida, taking a Stand Up Paddling 101 lesson and trying Stand Up Paddle Yoga! But first it was time to say goodbye to Hawaii.
It’s no secret that Hawaii had a massive impact on me (in fact, you guys might be getting sick of reading about it by now!) Hawaii revived me — reminded me of my love of travel, my love of adventure, my love of life. But most of all it reminded me of the goodness of people, and the importance of friendships both new and old.
‘A ‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.
No task is too big when done together by all.
And with that, I said my final aloha to the great state of Hawaii. My heart was heavy, but one thing kept it light: I know that I will be back here again someday.
Thank you all so much for reliving my Hawaii travels along with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them.
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