Stand Up Paddle Boarding with East Coast Paddle
I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. My buddies Rori from RoriTravels and Mike and Catrell from Cooney World Adventures had both experienced Stand Up Paddle Boarding with East Coast Paddle and both reviews of their trip were awesome. They spotted manatees, dolphins and more on this eco-tour through the estuaries of the Canaveral National Seashore.
So last weekend (perhaps the last nice weekend before the cooler weather advances into Florida), Brian and I had the chance to travel to New Smyrna Beach, FL and try Stand Up Paddle Boarding with East Coast Paddle*.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Stand Up Paddle Boarding – I hadn’t. With Hawaiian roots, Stand Up Paddle Boarding uses a paddle and a surf board-like board to travel across the top of the water. Sure you can take these out on the ocean waves, but for beginners like ourselves, our introductory course would be in much calmer waters.
It wasn’t long after our arrival on the dock until we saw a manatee breach the surface of the water. This was the first time I ever saw a manatee outside of an aquarium setting.
And soon thereafter, we saw dolphins swimming in the water. As it was shared with us, these dolphins are born in these waters and spend their entire lives there. They never travel out to the ocean.
We hadn’t done anything yet and I was already in awe.
Trust the Board
Physics would tell you, that if you step on something light that is floating on water, your weight would cause it to submerge. So my first curiosity was, how on earth will I be able to stay afloat. Could I balance? Would it flip over?
Our lesson on paddle boarding was provided by Tim, one of the owners of East Coast Paddle. In only five minutes, we learned all we needed to know.
The First Paddle
Entry into the water was a piece of cake. Tim kept the board steady while we knelt down onto it. And like magic, the board stayed afloat. After a few strokes of the paddle I was on my way.
About 100 feet away from the boat I managed to turn myself around just fine and transition from a kneeling to a standing position.
And in no time, I was cruising on my paddle board. I was surprised at how easy it was to balance and how stable the board was. But this was just the beginning.
Our Paddle Board Adventure
With the boat behind us, we ventured forth into the estuaries surrounding the nearby island. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is calm, peaceful and so relaxing. Our boards gently glided over the water. Traveling with the current, only a few strokes here and there were needed to steer us on course.
What I really appreciated was the solitude we felt. We traveled on water that was only a foot and a half deep (life preservers are provided as required by law). Due to the shallow water, not even kayaks can travel in the waterways we were on – a benefit to our chosen mode of transportation.
We saw oyster beds, stingrays, fish and birds, amongst the mangroves.
Why Choose East Coast Paddle?
Aside from the fact that I absolutely loved my time on the water, there are a lot of other great reasons why you should check out East Coast Paddle.
The excitement of the owners Tim and Cheryl is infectious. They quit their jobs to start this dream business of theirs. Ask Cheryl how it all began and she’ll quickly exude the passion she has for sharing this sport with fellow travelers. They do it because they love it, which makes all the difference in the world in your tour experience.
Included with the tour are free photographs of your experience. And I’m not talking about the one “token” photo to remember your experience, but dozens of photos of each moment along the way. They’ll be emailed to you after your tour concludes. When you’re on the water, carrying a camera to capture your travels is always a risk (unless you have a waterproof one). Rest assured that you can travel camera-free as your guide will take plenty of photos that look great. Virtually every photo in this post was taken by East Coast Paddle (and published with their permission).
And the final reason, is this is a genuine “Made in the USA Company”. This may or may not be important to you, but I love supporting small businesses AND all the boards East Coast Paddle uses are made in the U.S.A. In fact, they make them all themselves (and sell them retail too).
Our tour was just a small snapshot of a whole portfolio of offerings. You can take Yoga on the water, fish, tour with a marine biologist and more.
After only 90 minutes I was hooked and could easily see myself paddle boarding on my own in the future. The City of Orlando isn’t know for it’s plethora of outdoor, adventure activities, which makes East Coast Paddle a true gem that’s worth making the trek out to the coast.
Two paddles (er, thumbs) up!
Have you ever tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding? What was your experience like? Share by commenting.
I’ll see you out there…!
*East Coast Paddle provided me with a complimentary tour.