By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is considered an ancient form of surfing, traced to early days in Polynesia. More recently, in the 1940s, surf instructors on a Waikiki beach in Hawaii are said to have used the skill to allow them a better view of their students. Today, families can indulge in the sport at many resorts and scenic recreation areas.
Here are five to consider:
Three Lakes, Wisconsin
Perfect your balancing act on this charming chain of freshwater lakes in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Bring your own gear or rent from one of several accessible shops in the region. Slather on the sunscreen and set out to explore the 20 lakes — ranging in size from 123 acres to more than 1000 acres — that attract adventuresome families. Stop along the way to swim at small sandy beaches or grab lunch or a snack at the waterside Pike’s Pine Isle. Water skiing, boating, wakeboarding, canoeing and fishing are also popular. Plan a sunset paddle and you may share the scenery with a loon family.
For more: www.TravelWisconsin.com
Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Resort. Amelia Island, Florida
Learn to paddleboard on the Atlantic while staying at this luxury, family-friendly 446-room resort located on a 13-mile stretch of pristine coastline. Take lessons from the local pros or head out on your own. Add other water sports to the mix by trying jet skiing, boogie boarding, kayaking and surfing. Children 5 through 12 can look forward to the Ritz Kids program that offers adventures designed to introduce young people to the natural wonders of the island. Hopefully, the kids won’t be too tired to appreciate story time, snacks and a tuck-in offered by a friendly pirate.
For more: www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/AmeliaIsland/Default.htm
Slickrock Adventures, Belize
Check out this sun-drenched sport in a Caribbean paradise where newbies can practice in sheltered lagoons and the more experienced can try their skills on surf breaks. Challenge yourself via long paddles to nearby cayes or use the board as transport to top-notch snorkeling spots. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, fishing, diving, kite surfing and beach time with a family-friendly adventure package on Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef.
For more: www.slickrock.com
Sana Cruz, California
Paddle among sea otters and playful seals when you take to the calm waters of the Santa Cruz Harbor. Local pros will help you attain the proper stance and paddling technique before touring the Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing. This special outing enables paddlers to explore the second largest remaining salt marsh in California and one of the most significant biodiversity hot spots in the world. Expect to see peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, great blue herons and great egrets while moving through the tidal channels.
For more: http://covewatersup.com
This ancient sport is a natural fit in a region where outdoor pursuits top many lists. Beginners and experts can be spotted paddling their way on the Deschutes River through the center of this central Oregon town, sometimes accompanied by furry friends aboard rafts or inner tubes. A variety of local outfitters provide lessons, gear and encouragement for interested paddlers of all ages. Sign up for instruction or a tour. Later, with experience and skill under your belt, head out for your own independent adventure.
For more: www.VisitBend.com
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com
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