Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, is a reasonably new activity (or sport, if you’re really into it) that has quickly become very popular around Australia. It’s really catching on here on the Coffs Coast, too.
I remember the first time I saw people standing up on a board with a long paddle in their hands – and that was only a few years ago. At that time, you couldn’t hire SUPs anywhere in Coffs Harbour.
How things have changed. At the time I’m writing this (January 2014) there are at least 3 SUP hire businesses in and around Coffs Harbour.
I’ve been very keen to give SUP a try, and I’m glad I finally did. I loved it!
Because I’m not that confident in the ocean, and wasn’t sure how difficult stand-up paddleboarding would be, I decided to start my adventure in easy conditions close to my home: on Coffs Creek.
At Mangrove Jacks, where they hire out paddle boards (at $15/hour), you get a quick explanation on how to stand on the board, hold the paddle and turn around. Easy peasy!
Things to know about SUP
- Exercise: It’s a good workout for your core and ab muscles, back and upper arms. You can make your paddle boarding trip as easygoing or as strenuous as you like. You only need a bit of balance, but nothing else. Anyone can give it a go.
- Just starting out, or not confident in the waves? Start on a creek. You can focus on your technique without having to worry about conditions. You may not even get wet.
- Want more adventure? Get down to the beach and paddle in the surf. Be prepared to fall off and climb back on regularly.
- What to do with your bag? Check with the hire company if they’ll look after your bag/valuables while you’re on the water. Mangrove Jacks does. I was glad not to have to worry about my phone getting wet or losing my keys, but unless you have a waterproof watch, it makes it tricky to know when your hour is up!
- Check the tides! Especially if you go paddle boarding on a tidal creek like Coffs Creek, it’s best not to go too close to low tide, because you may get stuck in the mud in places. It’s much nicer (and safer) to have plenty of water around. Also consider which way to go first. I’d recommend going against the tide for about 40 minutes or so and then turning around for an easy paddle back.
- Is SUP difficult? I didn’t find it difficult at all. But then again, I haven’t tried it in the surf! I didn’t lose my balance or fall off the board, until we came back to Mangrove Jacks. I came in too fast and hit the sandy bottom of the creek, which made me lose my balance and fall off the board. But the water is shallow so only my legs got wet. I actually found it quite refreshing after an hour of paddle boarding in the sun. Paddling in shallow waters can be hazardous though, so always take care.
- Sun protection! Don’t forget that standing on top of a board, your entire body is exposed to the sun, so bring a hat and sunscreen and/or wear sun-smart clothes.
Coffs Harbour SUP hire companies
Wondering where you can hire stand-up paddle boards around Coffs Harbour? These are the SUP hire companies I have found. Click on the links for further details:
- Mangrove Jacks Café and Canoe Hire
The Promenade, 321 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour
Phone: (02) 6652 5517
Website: Mangrove Jacks paddle board hire
- Coffs Jetty SUP
No permanent location, but often set up at Jetty Beach, Coffs Harbour and Boambee Creek Reserve, Sawtell Road, Sawtell
Phone: 0422 391 951
Website: Coffs Jetty SUP
- C Change Adventures
Often set up at Boambee Creek Reserve, Sawtell, with kayaks, but operating SUP on Bonville Creek which is deeper and therefore less hazardous
Phone: 0468 406 222
Website: C Change Adventures
Qualified SUP instructors (only ones on Coffs Coast), with lessons held at various locations around Coffs Coast teaching you some techniques to get the most out of the SUP experience
Website: C Change SUP lessons
Personally, I really enjoyed paddle boarding and think it’s something I wouldn’t mind doing regularly. It’s a social activity and a workout rolled into one, all for just $15 an hour (at Mangrove Jacks anyway; check prices for other operators).
And after an hour of getting a fun workout on the water, what’s better than to sit down at one of the two cafés at The Promenade (photo above) to enjoy a coffee while overlooking the creek? Sounds pretty good, right? I think I may just have found myself a new hobby!