SUP or stand up paddle boarding or stand up paddle surfing is ALL the craze now. When we went surfing at Playa Hermosa, there were a good chunk of people who were paddle surfing and we see SUP’ers all the time in Playas del Coco. You can do it pretty much at any beach since you don’t necessarily have to be surfing, you can just paddle board out in open water as long as it is calm.
SUP has been an activity I’ve had my eye on for awhile. I was planning on trying it back in Seattle but didn’t have the time to make it nor did I have a wetsuit and it was going to be cold! I do love being out in the water but I try to avoid it when it’s only 40 degrees outside.
Finally we got a chance to try our hand at stand up paddle boarding in Jaco with Kayak Jaco. OK so it’s not like we had expected it to be a leisurely walk in the park but it LOOKS easy.
And like with all the things in life, when something looks easy, it most definitely is not.
My first time stand up paddle boarding in Jaco
Was I nervous? Yes but I was really excited so my excitement took over my jitters. I met with my guide, Wilber who has been working in the company for 6 years so he had a good handful of experience to teach me the newbie.
We met at Playa Agujas which is about a 20 minute drive from Playa Jaco and I could see why their home base is at this beach. It’s beautiful with very calm waves all around, the perfect scenario for stand up paddle boarding. He got ready his kayak and taught me basic moves on how to get up, how to balance and how to paddle.
Very important things to know!
The Art of Standing Up on a Board
I was pumped and ready to go. I love trying new things and although I’m not the best athlete, I do like testing and pushing my limits though I will always respect the ocean. I grabbed my board and paddle, walked out into the water and plopped down on my belly, paddling out into the open ocean.
After several strokes, I heard Wilber yell “Up try to get up!” So I placed my hands flat on the board, got up on my knees and looked out at the sparkling water.
“OK now push up, nice and steady” I told myself. Taking the paddle in my hand and using it to balance myself as I stood up, I planted my feet firmly shoulder length apart and started paddling. “I’m up! I’m up!” I excitedly yell.
OK now three strokes on each side, grab the paddle from the top and just enjoy. Hey, it wasn’t that hard! I paddled alongside Wilber as he kayaked and after I got my balance solid, we were able to start talking and carry on a conversation.
We went around some rocks towards Punta Leona, a resort and the waves started getting only the tiniest bit rockier. I found that I really had to grip my toes and keep my balance with the waves or each time I hit one, I would fall.
Which did happen a few times when I wasn’t paying attention and I just flat out fell on my butt. Never fell into the water but just on the booty. Se cayo!
Thankfully Wilber gave me a tip to bend my knees and lean whenever I felt like I was going to fall. Best tip ever.
Getting the hang of it
Around the corner, we stopped at Playa Limoncito a small but pretty beach. Playa Blanca was on the other side of the point but I think Wilber and I both knew we weren’t going to make it that far.
We stopped for a few minutes to rest and enjoy at the little beach before we set off past Playa Manta towards Punta Leona where we saw groups of manta rays swimming silently in the water like a group of giant brown leaves drifting by.
Punta Leona is gorgeous. There is this rocky area they call the point where you can go snorkeling and fishing so we headed over to that direction. By that time, I was pretty much getting the hang of it and able to relax a little bit while still using my knees to keep my balance.
We pulled up to the shore and went snorkeling. The current was a touch strong but we were able to see lots of fish, sea stars, sea cucumbers and he brought up those funny looking puffer fish for me to touch! (The spikes actually didn’t hurt as much as I thought).
The Long Journey Back
You know when you go for a run and you feel so great after a few miles that you keep going until you’re dog tired, stupidly forgetting you still need to get back somehow?
I was so excited that I made it this far on my first time that I kind of blocked out the part where I needed to paddle back. I wasn’t extremely tired, my knees and upper thighs were a bit sore but the snorkeling actually took a bit out of me since we weren’t wearing flippers. I bashfully asked Wilbert if I could use his kayak for a little bit on the way back and switch later.
After we got halfway, we switched from kayak to paddle board as I was refreshed and ready to enjoy my paddle boarding back.
SUP – recommended!
If you’re interested in doing some stand up paddle boarding, be warned. It is not as easy as it looks! Luckily I was able to stand up pretty easily and catch my balance but Wilbert told me of people who couldn’t stand up on the board at all.
It’s a real test of your balance and inner core. It doesn’t take a great deal of strength if you’re paddling out on very calm waters like we did, but it does require you to have good stamina and good balance. You can also try paddle surfing like we saw some people do at Tamarindo which people can take to an extreme level.
I had a blast as it was a gorgeous day out, the ocean was beautiful and it was just so nice and tranquil, taking in all the brilliant scenery and wildlife. Wilbert was an excellent guide as he patiently waited for me to catch up to him, keeping a careful eye on me during the rockier parts.
SUP – check! And I will most likely be doing it again. Kayak Jaco has just started doing stand up paddle tours and we were also with some kayakers and kayak fishermen, both operated by Kayak Jaco.
More fun things to do in Jaco
We were guests of Kayak Jaco and were not compensated for our visit. All thoughts and opinions remain our own as we select which companies to work with to recommend only high quality services and businesses.