Stand Up Paddleboarding In Key WestDispatches from the Road, Fitness & Workouts, Florida Keys — By Nancy Y on April 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm
by Nancy Yeomans
LG Air Travel Editor
When in Key West one must head to the water. As the island is surrounded by the stuff, some of the most fun activities are to be had there. I’ve been keen to try the celebrity sport of choice, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), for a while now. The chance to check it out in a spot not requiring me to wrestle myself into a wetsuit was too good to pass up.
SUP looks like it should be impossible, but it’s truly not. It’s suitable for all sizes, ages and athletic ability. Our group of women had a first-rate experience with Megan and her staff from SUP Key West. Megan offers full day as well as half-day and sunset tours so you can just test the waters if you don’t want to commit an entire day. Pricing is very reasonable: $45 for the half-day and sunset tours and $60 for a full day; prices include equipment, lesson and guided tour. She’ll also pick you up at your hotel or pier if necessary.
None of us had ever tried the sport before, but no worries, the learning curve isn’t very steep. The pre-briefing was short and sweet and within about 10 minutes we were up and moving about, if a bit gingerly at first. SUP feels like a combination of yoga, pilates and kayaking. You get a great core workout just trying to stay balanced on the wobble-board. The vibe at SUP Key West is low-key and forgiving. There is no pressure to perform – if you’re not very confident you’re good to just kneel or even sit on the board. You’ll still have a pleasurable experience and the paddling works just fine from either of those positions.
We were visiting Key West from our cruise ship so opted for the morning half-day option. (Megan is quite accommodating about working with the constraints of the cruise schedules.) The day we were in town was a windy, unsettled one and the water current was fairly strong. Megan took care of us though, and we had a 1-way paddle so as not to fight the current on the way back to the marina. Our 2 hour paddle, guided by the friendly and knowledgable Rachel, took us through salt ponds and mangrove forests. The latter required a seated position to fit through the shallow tunnels formed from the trees.
As we glided along the water we got an education about the flora and fauna we were passing. We learned about the sea creatures present around and beneath us and when Rachel spotted a school of jellyfish she drew our attention to them. The tiny anemones also would have gone unnoticed if not for her eagle eye.
We were picked up at our finish point and transported back to the marina where we rewarded our efforts with a Key West specialty – a slice of frozen key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate.
Next time you find yourself in the Conch Republic, take a detour from Duval St. and try walking on water instead.
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