In New Smyrna Beach (NSB), Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the local rages. With the Intracoastal Waterway and low waves at the beach, SUP is exceptionally popular. I have my beautiful sister to thank for finding the killer internet deal that got us to spend a little sister time together. Both former Girl Scouts, the thought of going back to our outdoorsy roots was quite exciting. We joined Central Florida Standup Paddleboard at Wekiva Springs for a river tour.
A beautiful, summer morning with a quick drive the open highway took me to Wekiva. Driving out into the park, I simply put down the windows and cranked up the radio. One of the best things about having the backroads to myself is the ability to sing completely off-key at the top of my lungs without anyone to document my automotive karaoke sessions. Having Mumford & Son’s “I Will Wait“ followed up by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise“ painted a lovely countryside montage as I bumped along roads. These are my driving anthems of summer, so I’m starting think there might be a little country in this suburban gal.
The instructors were very organized and explained the basics of SUP in plain language, helping to take off the initial shock of hearing “there’s alligators, but we’ll keep away from them.” The guide pushed my board onto the water, and then the next big challenge presented itself: standing up on the board without being the only person to tip over and fall into the river. Looking over at my sister, I smiled as she eased herself to her feet. Being one of the last onto river is just as stressful as being the first one out: no one wants to the first to fall into the water. Trying to find my river legs, I carefully balanced myself and rose slowly. I coached myself, “deep breaths… not going for a swim today…” over and over because although the summer sun glittered off the water, it was still bracing and refreshingly crisp for July.
SUP is one of those sports that looks quite laid back, but the core workout involved is mind blowing! After finding our river legs, sis and I made our way to the front of the group with the guide. The guide distracted my racing mind from fears of playing dunk tank, by talking about Wekiva Springs and the trail we’ve navigate, including tips for easier paddling and board control. Our trip out and back was relatively quiet, the river calm, and was most definitely without Pocahontas and her animal friends. The workout continued as we headed up stream through some dense lily pad clusters and made our way to the turnaround point.
We took a break at the midway point, sitting on our boards and letting the river carry us back a little. As we prepared for our return journey, the guides snapped pictures of us on the river. I couldn’t rely on my dexterity to guarantee that I wouldn’t send my phone for a swim, so I only have the single photo from our adventure. I should invest in a waterproof housing for opportunities like these. On our way back, we got to challenge ourselves with navigating underneath a low hanging tree branch! Eat your heart out, Pocahontas!
After we cleaned up and hydrated, we left the park and headed to historic, downtown Sanford for a post-SUP brunch. Unfortunately, Sundays are sleepy for this string of Mom & Pop shops and restaurants. Luckily, we were able to find a place open, and grabbed food before heading home.
Bottom Line: I have to find an affordable way to learn SUP. CF SUP also ventures out on the NSB waterways, so having an activity near home would certainly be an incentive. I think I’ll need to start chatting up the local folks and see what advice they could provide me with because SUP is definitely something worth persuing!