Cool Things to do with Tweens on Maui: Stand Up Paddling

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Stand Up Paddling…or SUP to you and me

I am a wife of a surfer so it pains me that I have to admit that I’m not the most adventurous person when it comes to certain water-related activities. Yes, I’m more of a sand spectator. I LOVE watching my husband surf but I’ll admit I’m a wee bit afraid of waves, deep water and big swimming things in the sea. With that said, this past week I stepped out of my box and went for it.

While staying at the Sheraton Maui in Kaanapali I was able to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding, or SUP for short. With my coach, Daiton by my side I carried the big, giant (that means more sturdy, fyi) board down the Kaanapali Beach and strapped on the leash. Now, this is where I got a tad nervous and the memories came rushing back….

A Surfing tale

I was in high school and out swimming in the sea with a bunch of girlfriends while our boyfriends surfed. Out of nowhere the surf got big. We were stuck. The only way in was riding a surfboard. My then surfer boyfriend (and now surfer husband) plopped me onto his long board and told me that at the count of three he’d push me into the wave. He told me to then paddle as hard as I could. Now, as an 80 pound petite little thing at the time, my paddling skills lacked. BIG time. (what was he thinking!?)

At “Three!” I was off, shot into a wave and hearing “paddle paddle paddle” being yelled behind me. My boyfriend’s voice trailed off and as I paddled my little heart out, but I just couldn’t keep up with the power of the wave and over I went, thrown into the washing machine of the sea. I remembered my boyfriend always telling me “just don’t panic” so I found my zen and looked for the sun to show me the way to the surface. I did eventually come up…with a long board on top of my head.

It was then that I said, to hell with surfing! I’ll just watch and take pictures from the shore. And so began my life as a surfer wife.

(I have since tried to surf and have indeed stood up and even got a little reef rash while in Fiji…I was so proud of those scrapes, it meant I tried to surf Fiji! Go me! And I did surf Waikiki…now that’s a must-do!)

Stand Up Paddling isn’t like that

Fast forward to last week and putting on that leash. I was nervous to have to get past the waves to the calm ocean waiting for me, but with the help of my SUP guide, I was standing up and out floating on the sea in no time. Out in front of the majestic Kaanapali coast with the West Maui mountains smiling at me from afar, I glided with each stroke.

A shadow swam below me and I soon realized it was a turtle! He had popped up to the surface almost reassuring me that all was ok. He then swam under me as I paddled south, past anchored catamarans. Lanai to one side, Maui to the other…now this was my kind of water sport.

Stand Up Paddling is perfect for the older tween/teenager. They do want you to be a good swimmer should you fall (which I did not…it was awesome!) But this is the perfect way to get on a board in Hawaii, to glide on the sea and look down on the little city underneath the water.

You can book Stand Up Paddle lessons at the kiosks at the Sheraton Maui. They offer a shore lesson and then let you take the leash by the hand (or ankle) and go for it.

Have you done stand up paddling? Did you love it? Share!


  1. You had me at “I carried the big giant board”. I have yet to carry my own board, what a chick yeah? Fortunately da man is big, tall and muscular and can carry two boards. But I feel guilty now, you’re little so if you can do it, so should I (although you may be a tad taller than me).

    It’s fun, isn’t it? I’m not that great at it but with a little practice. Oh and placid is for me, none of this riding big waves in stuff…

  2. All my friends here have been telling me that I need to try SUP. I’m a bit of a water-adventure wuss, but SUP looks like fun. I’ll have to try it soon and I feel more comfortable doing that after reading what you had to say about it. Thanks!

  3. Three things: I heart SUP and you rock for getting out there! I love that you and your hubs are high school sweethearts. And we just went to Fiji this Spring! We went on mission to work with a trafficking ministry though so we didn’t get any surf. Next time! Great post and happy weekending!

  4. I’ve never tried SUP, but totally want to some day – it looks soooo fun! Good for you for giving it a go! :)

  5. Good job! So nice for a honu to stop by and offer some encouragement. The couple times I’ve gone paddle boarding were so nice and pleasant and natural. I love how you don’t have to paddle out to enjoy it. Just get it in the water and go! I have a theory that smaller people have an easier time balancing because it was a breeze for me but not the (much larger) mr.

  6. Brave, beautiful and fun! I was like – is that Sarah??? It is, right?
    I think it’s awesome you tried this…and when we come to Maui, I’ll make Denis do it!
    Can’t wait!

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