Over the holiday weekend, I tried something I have been dying to do since last summer. I’ll give you a hint… it involves water, a board and paddle, and nice weather wouldn’t hurt… You guessed it – stand-up paddle boarding. Every time I am at the beach I see people enjoying the calm water while getting a good workout paddling. Since I spent last summer recovering from a thyroidectomy and trying to avoid the sun and getting my neck wet, I had to forgo the paddle board experience then.
Now that my neck is fully healed, I am always on the lookout for new activities to vary my routine, and stand-up paddle boarding was number one on my list. It has become a very popular activity on Long Island in recent years. Most of the local beaches and marinas offer either lessons or paddle rentals. I checked the rates online at a few places and they were steep – around $75 for an hour lesson, whereas just the paddle board rental ran around $40 for an hour. I was pretty sure that I did not need a lesson and was planning on just renting the board and taking it from there. However, the last call I made was to the Long Island Stand Up Paddleboarding Company, where I was greeted by a friendly voice offering to extend the Groupon price of $39 for an hour lesson to me. SOLD!
With several convenient locations across the North and South Shores of Long Island, this place has you covered wherever you live. On the day I wanted to go out on the water, Saturday, the South Shore had strong rip tides and I was advised that they would be giving lessons in Saint James, on the North Shore.
I love exploring Long Island – so I welcomed the opportunity to see yet another locale. The drive up to the water through Saint James was exquisite, and if you are a horse person, the equestrian estates along the way will leave you speechless. It seemed like every house on Long Beach Road was a Dutch Colonial with a barn in the backyard. The rolling, manicured front lawns complete with horse-proof fencing were similar to the Kentucky landscape. Almost every house had their horses grazing on their property. The Knox School at the end of the road was the pièce-de-résistance. I had heard of this private school before because of its equestrian program, but seeing it in the flesh was a whole different story. At first, I thought it was just another stable, but the sign was too obvious to ignore. If I were a kid, this would be where I would want to go to school. There were horses out in the paddocks welcoming you down the long majestic driveway, and it looked more like a showground than a K-12 school. I digress!
After regaining my composure, it was time for the paddle boarding (the whole reason for the trip in the first place). The final destination was not a beach, but rather a bay with some boats docked in the water. The paddle board instructor, Scott, was young, but seemed experienced. There really wasn’t much instruction needed on land or on the board. Scott helped me get on the paddle board and attached the board to my ankle. Once up, I paddled away, taking a stroke on each side with my paddle. The winds were strong, fueled by the fading but still powerful Hurricane Arthur, and trying to avoid a collision with the docked boats was probably the hardest part of the whole experience. But the cool breeze felt great under the hot sun, although be sure to don sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses (although not expensive ones, as people have lost them falling into the water). A few other people took the lesson-rental when I did, and I was even able to carry on brief conversations with them while paddling and maneuvering around the bay. The hour flew by and I was sad when I had to return to shore.
Overall, I found paddle boarding to be every bit as exciting as I thought it would be. It provides a great upper body workout without being too strenuous on the legs and back. I enjoyed being out on the water, and the whole experience had a peace and serenity to it. It was liberating not to have to talk, text, or answer emails for one whole hour, and to be able just to concentrate on myself. I enjoyed paddling by the boats, silently moored in the bay, and from the vantage point of the water I could observe the shore, too, with its beachgoers, fishermen, and traffic.
I would highly recommend the Long Island Stand Up Paddleboarding Company if you are in the area and interested in giving paddle boarding a try. (Even at their remote, mobile locations, they take credit cards, which was a marvelous convenience.) I certainly plan on renting a board from them in the near future and enjoying another hour of peace.
If you are new to paddle boarding, I suggest calling a few different places to get rates and also look for a Groupon. I didn’t particularly find the lesson very helpful, but if you aren’t sure, go ahead and take one. The key to paddle boarding is remaining balanced. Once you can do that, it’s not very difficult to stay on the board and paddle.