SUP Lessons. Whether your paddler is a first timer or experienced, SUP lessons or even private instruction can be a great gift. For first timers, proper instruction shortens the learning curve dramatically and educates the paddler on all the safety aspects important to having fun on a paddle board. A SUP lesson can be just important for a seasoned paddler. From our experience, we find most self-taught paddle boarders have developed poor paddling habits. Having a certified SUP instructor watch and even video your paddling stroke can result in dramatic improvement in efficiency and power. Check with your local outfitters to purchase gift cards or vouchers.
SUP Safety Essentials. Many people getting into paddle boarding spend all the money they budgeted on the paddle board. In some cases they have nothing left over for a decent paddle much less the necessary safety equipment. Help them out and equip them with basic SUP safety equipment. This includes an inflatable PFD belt, marine whistle and a SUP leash. All ensure your paddler has fun on the water. Moreover, PFDs are required by USCG if outside the surf zone.
Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle. As I mentioned above, too often new paddler boarders over spend on the paddle board and skimp on the paddle. Cheap paddles are typically heavy and uncomfortable to the hand especially on long paddles. They are also not as durable. We suggest to all our paddle boarders that they select a full carbon fiber paddle (Kevlar is fine too). In fact, because of their durability we use full carbon fiber paddles for all our SUP lessons and tours. Unless you are going to buy multiple paddles (i.e., one for surfing, touring, racing, etc.), we suggest getting an adjustable paddle. Bottom line - they are light, comfortable and durable making them well worth the extra cash.
Paddle Year-Round with a Wetsuit. Paddle boarding is not just a summer activity. While the fall and winter seasons bring the cold they also tend to bring the swell and wind for downwinders. Winter is also a much more peaceful time to be on the water as the summer crowds have dwindled. That said, being safe on the water this time of year requires some neoprene. We have found a 3/2 mm full suit provides the necessary warmth and flexibility to be comfortable this time of year.