What’s SUP?

Three years ago I would have gone on record as saying SUP was a passing fad, an excuse to sell more things to people who already have enough toys.

Not any more.

Over the past two seasons, not only has my opinion on Stand up Paddling changed, so has my overall paddling preference.

In 2014 we even began offering an overnight Algonquin Park SUP Adventure

Over the past twenty plus years that we’ve been based here at Algonquin Park’s Kawawaymog Lake I’ve paddled canoes more than any other on-water vehicle.  Oh, sure there were years when I sea kayaked a lot, but overall, the canoe – Canadian Icon of the adventurous soul has always been my mainstay.  If I was going on the water, canoe was my choice.  I’d amble over to the canoe rack, ease a canoe onto my shoulders and portage out to the dock, carefully lowering my boat into the water.

A few years ago, I’d more often than not choose my sea kayak.  Faster than a canoe and providing a good way to tool around Kawawaymog lake quickly,  I greatly enjoyed the new sight-lines sitting much lower to the water surface.  I’d paddle with the ducks, sneak up on herons or even moose browsing the water lilies.  I loved the way the water reflected off the bow in the early morning sun.  But a couple of years ago I injured my back, which has made sea kayaking uncomfortable.  For most of that first summer after being injured I stayed off the water entirely.

Then we started offering Stand up Paddling retreats and purchased ten SUP boards for our Algonquin Park guests.  Still feeling not quite up to sitting in a boat I thought I’d give it a try.


I’ve never looked back.  Over the past two summers I have been in a canoe twice, while I have taken to the water on a SUP board in all kinds of weather conditions, at all times of day.  At least 30 times each summer I’ll go for a Stand up Paddle, sometimes many times a day.

What I’ve come to love about SUP:

  • Super easy to carry to the water; extremely light with a built in handle.
  • Beginner friendly; if you’ve got previous paddling experience in a canoe or sea kayak you’ll be navigating around pretty easily.  Paddling strokes learned in the bow or stern of a canoe, or even a sea kayak can be put to excellent use turning a SUP board more easily than a canoe or sea kayak.
    Without paddling experience you’ll see first hand how your strokes make a difference.  Paddling SUP will probably even make you a better paddler for other watersports.
  • The freedom of sea kayaking; solo paddling.
  • New vantage point;  high up stand-up paddlers can see a lot more than when sitting.
  • Comfort plus for my chronic back issues; on the SUP board I can get into my two favourite positions in my daily life (standing or laying prone), way more comfortable than sitting.
  • Easy to change positions – standing, sitting, kneeling, laying down – when I get bored of one way of paddling I just shift to a new position and use my muscles in a different way.
  • Yoga – well, have you ever tried to do yoga in a canoe or sea kayak?  Exactly.

Watching our guests Stand up Paddle at our Algonquin Park nature retreat is really enjoyable.  It looks intriguing seeing all those people “Walking on Water” together.  It doesn’t take folks long to get the hang of it.  Folks with no previous paddling experience learn pretty quickly the strokes required to turn the board, and our SUP instructors make learning fun.

The long and the short of the SUP experience, Fun, Fun, Fun.  Beginner-friendly.  You’ll be back for more.

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